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Weekly News: November 2007
November 2007

November 30, 2007
November 16, 2007
November 9, 2007
November 2, 2007


November 30, 2007

NOAA Data Help Document San Francisco Oil Spill Damage
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) supported the Office of Response and Restoration cleanup and analysis efforts after the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay.  NCCOS’s Bioeffects Program recently collected sediment samples throughout the Bay and in the Gulf of the Farallones to document sediment-related contaminants including those associated with oil.  Samples are currently being collected at the Mussel Watch site on Yerba Buena Island, beneath the Bay Bridge, to help determine the extent of damage associated with the spill and to compare to the baseline data previously collected by NCCOS.  The NCCOS Mussel Watch Program has been documenting the health of the Bay since 1986 for the same set of contaminants.  For more information, contact or

First Iraqi Continuously Operating Reference Station Installed
NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS), with the assistance of the United States Embassy, is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Water Resources, General Directorate for Surveying and Mapping in Iraq, for the first Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) to be installed by the Iraqi government.  CORS is a permanently operating Global Positioning System (GPS) base station, which enables GPS users to determine highly accurate GPS positions.  The new Iraqi-installed CORS, part of the Iraqi Geospatial Reference System, will improve the quality, accuracy, and cost of airfield and boundary surveys and other precise positioning activities in Iraq.  For more information, contact

Discovery to Improve Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) researchers have found that certain harmful algal blooms (HABs) species are adapted to low concentrations of the nutrient ammonium, even though blooms of these species typically occur in environments that are ammonium-enriched.  This adaptation allows these species to outcompete non-harmful algae and may explain why HAB events can persist for months or even years, adversely impacting sea grass beds, clams, and oysters.  This discovery should improve forecasting for HABs and help coastal managers mitigate damage to living marine resources.  Texas brown tide species (Aureoumbra lagunensis) and the Long Island green tide species (Nannochloris atomus) are the two species shown to be adapted to low ammonium concentrations.  For more information, contact



November 16, 2007

NOS Aids in San Francisco Oil Spill Response
NOAA organizations remain active in San Francisco, aiding in the response to last week’s spill of an estimated 58,000 gallons of intermediate fuel oil when the container ship M/V Cosco Busan struck the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco Bay.  NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) continues to provide trajectory predictions to the Unified Command, led by the U.S. Coast Guard.  National Marine Sanctuary Program staff and volunteers have also been involved in response activities, working both at the Incident Command Center and in the field to monitor the situation, conduct natural resource damage assessment, and coordinate response efforts, including contaminated beach cleanup and collection of oiled seabirds.  For more information, contact (OR&R), (NMSP), or (NMSP).

U.S. Coastal Land Cover Maps Available Online
Land cover maps for the coastal areas of the conterminous U.S. are now available online in a standardized database of information used to document regional development trends, habitat losses and gains, changes in sources of pollution or sedimentation, and other factors affecting coastal ecosystem health.  The Coastal Change Analysis Program at the NOAA Coastal Services Center spent several years acquiring and processing this information, with 2007 marking the first time the entire set of baseline data has been available.  This baseline effort will make future updates easier to acquire and more useful.  For more information, visit or contact

New Model on Initiation of Florida Red Tides
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science released a new research model that links nutrients from the Mississippi River outflow and the initiation of harmful algal blooms on the continental shelf off the west coast of Florida.  The study provides models and data that support the hypothesis that red tide blooms originate offshore and not near the coast.  The algae grow offshore, supplied with additional nutrients that appear to have originated from the Mississippi River in a process driven by normal seasonal wind patterns.  The new hypothesis provides an important explanation that can aid in predicting when these blooms might start.  For more information, contact Rick Stumpf.



November 9, 2007

New Marine Debris Web Campaign
First Lady Laura Bush announced a new multi-agency marine debris initiative during a designation ceremony for the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on November 2.  She spoke of the effects of marine debris she had witnessed on a visit to Midway Atoll (Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument – Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) and about the people’s obligation to protect natural resources.  Mrs. Bush recognized activities to increase public education on marine debris, including the launch of the new NOAA Marine Debris Web Education Campaign.  Titled "Marine Debris 101," the new educational portion of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Web site informs people about the sources of marine debris, impacts marine debris can have on the environment, and solutions to the problem. On this site, you can download informative marine debris brochures, posters, fact sheets, guidebooks, and activity books.  For more information, contact

Research Points to Bottlenose Dolphins as Environmental Sentinels
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science scientists have found that levels of trace metals and mercury in the skin of bottlenose dolphins appear to be correlated more with geographic location than with age and length of dolphins.  These results, published in Science of the Total Environment, provide further support that bottlenose dolphins may serve as environmental sentinels for contaminant levels, and skin may be used as an indicator for measuring trace elements and mercury accumulation.  Differences in several trace element concentrations in skin tissue may also be potentially useful to discriminate between dolphin populations.  For more information, contact or

Research May Improve Fish Population Assessments
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) recently reported research on the utility of hydroacoustic surveys for assessing fish abundance and distribution at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.  This work addresses the needs of Sanctuary managers to develop quantifiable metrics to assess ecological condition.  The NCCOS study found hydroacoustic surveys are an efficient, non-destructive approach to providing measures of baseline conditions and assessing the state of fish populations over time.  A Technical Memorandum has been produced to assist managers and researchers interested in applying underwater acoustic techniques as a tool in integrated assessments.  For more information, contact



November 2, 2007

New Lidar Data for Georgia and South Carolina
Lidar-derived topography is now available for areas of Jasper County, South Carolina, and areas adjacent to the major port in Savannah, Georgia.  Gathered for use in updating flood insurance maps, the data have vertical accuracy measurements of 12 centimeters in open terrain and can be used for detailed hydrologic mapping.  Data verification was provided by staff members from the NOAA Coastal Services Center and National Geodetic Survey.  The Center and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources partnered to collect the data, available for user-customized download at  For more information, contact

Deep Coral Mortality Identified in U.S. Virgin Islands
Using photos taken with a remotely operated vehicle during a 2005 sea-floor mapping mission, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and their partners, including the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service, estimated a coral cover decline of 25 percent on a deep reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The photos show that deeper coral colonies were more affected than shallower colonies on the same reef, marking the first discovery of such a pattern of coral loss on a deep reef in the Caribbean.  The extensive loss of deep reef coral is especially noteworthy as these reefs could serve as a source of future recruits for shallow reefs during times of stress.  For more information, contact

Removing Connecticut College Riverbank Debris
Goodwin College of East Hartford, Connecticut, received $40,000 from NOAA’s Community-based Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Grants to remove more than 900 cubic yards of partially submerged debris that has accumulated along the riverbanks of its property on the Connecticut River.  The buildup of debris threatens aquatic life, creates hazards for boaters, and poses a risk to ecologically sensitive tidal marshes downriver.  The project will help rehabilitate more than two miles of riverfront along the site of the college’s new campus and will raise public awareness of the need to keep the river clear of debris.  For more information, contact


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