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Gray’s Reef Draft Management Plan in Federal Register

A draft management plan for Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary will appear in the Federal Register today, October 31, beginning a 60-day comment period. The sanctuary is located 17.5 nautical miles off Sapelo Island, Georgia, and encompasses 17 square nautical miles of live-bottom habitat. Revised regulations in the plan would prohibit anchoring in the sanctuary and restrict all fishing except by rod and reel and hand-line gear. For more information, contact Becky Shortland.

NOS Dedicates Florida Center of Population

On October 30, NOS’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS), in cooperation with the Florida Surveying & Mapping Society, dedicated a geodetic monument marking the Florida center of population at Fort Meade City Hall. The state center of population was determined using data from the 2000 U.S. Census. The Global Positioning system will be used to determine the actual position of the benchmark. For more information, contact Dave Doyle.

Ship-naming Contest Under Way in New England

NOAA’s Office of Education and Sustainable Development is conducting a contest to name NOAA’s new National Marine Fisheries Service survey vessel. Students in grades K-12 in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont are invited to compete. Visit the Web site for more information, or contact Caritta Lee for a promotional poster.

October 24, 2003

Seafood Monitoring in California

The contamination of fishery resources (e.g., shellfish, finfish, invertebrates) with the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA) has become commonplace along the California coast. The California Department of Health Services (CDHS), the regulatory agency responsible for protecting the state’s seafood consumers from DA exposure, currently operates a highly effective biotoxin monitoring program. In an effort to lower DA detection limits and thus provide advance warning of possible toxic events, the Marine Biotoxins Program of NOS’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, hosted CDHS scientists at a week-long workshop on the DA receptor binding assay (test). Participants received a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory training, which included testing naturally contaminated shellfish and finfish samples. As the California scientists come to routinely perform the technique, it will enhance their agency’s ability to detect low, but rising, toxicity levels. Future collaborative trials between CDHS and NOS are planned, with the aim of evaluating the test as a potential alternative to established regulatory protocols. For more information, contact Greg Doucette.

Law of the Sea Advisory Board

NOS’s Office of Coast Survey will represent NOAA at the annual meeting of the Advisory Board on the Law of the Sea, to be held Oct. 28-30 in Monaco. The board is co-Sponsored by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the advisory board deals with the hydrographic, geodetic, and marine geo-scientific aspects of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, specifically Article 76. Article 76 contains specifications whereby a coastal nation may claim an extended continental shelf, and thus the resources associated with, on, or below the sea floor, beyond 200 nautical miles. When the United States accedes to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, it could possibly submit a claim for sovereignty over an extended continental shelf. For more information, contact Jerry Mills.

Lewis and Clark Commemorative Mark

On October 25, NOS’s National Geodetic Survey dedicated a commemorative survey mark in Clarksville, IN, as part of the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Similar marks have been placed at other significant sites, including Monticello in Virginia, and will continue to be placed along Lewis and Clark's cross-country route during the next three years. The Lewis and Clark Legacy on NOAA’s Ocean Explorer Web site highlights a 2001 exploration of Astoria Canyon, a submarine abyss just 10 miles offshore from the mouth of the Columbia River, the most westward reach of the famous 19th-century explorers. For more information on the commemorative survey mark, contact Nancy Doyle.


October 17, 2003

NOS Helps Improve Surveying in Ethiopia

The National Ocean Service’s (NOS) National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is leading an assessment team that will review and evaluate the technologies and capabilities of the Ethiopian mapping system. Two months ago, NGS approved a plan to modernize the spatial reference system in Ethiopia. Through a partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Land Management, the plan will improve national mapping and establish a national land parcel registry system. This project is part of the U.S. Agency for International Development's effort to enhance the economy and political stability of developing countries. By setting up a geodetic foundation, landowners can define boundaries and document the location of their land. Even today, land ownership in Ethiopia is documented solely by verbal agreement. This creates difficulties when owners want to put up their land as collateral on bank loans. This modernization will also improve agricultural methods and land and water management. For more information, contact Dave Doyle.

NOS Releases New Version of nowCOAST Web Portal

The National Ocean Service’s (NOS) Office of Coast Survey Development Laboratory recently released version 1.4 of its Web mapping portal called nowCOAST. The site provides spatially referenced links to real-time information from meteorological, oceanographic, and estuarine observing networks. It also links to National Weather Service weather and marine forecasts for major estuaries and seaports, the Great Lakes, and coastal regions. Highlights of the new version include links to observations from additional land and marine locations, and links to an additional 1,000 U.S. Geological Survey observing stations. For more information, contact Bruce Parker.

Pacific Services Center Receives Coastal America Partnership Award

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Services Center in Honolulu, HI, received a 2003 Coastal America Partnership Award on Oct. 11. Virginia K. Tippie, director of Coastal America, and Timothy R.E. Keeney, deputy assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, hosted the ceremony. As a partner with the Hawai’i Marine Algae Group, the Pacific Services Center joined with other federal, state, and local partners, as well as with nongovernmental and community organizations, in ongoing cleanups of alien algae at the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District reef fronting the Waikiki Aquarium. In addition to developing and implementing management protocols, the project has increased community and political awareness through media coverage. For more information, contact Bill Thomas.


October 10, 2003

NOS Supports Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, comprising 27,000 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has lost about 8,000 acres of marshland since the 1950s and currently loses 150 to 400 acres per year. NOS’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services recently signed a work order with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reestablish a tide station for one year at McCready’s Creek in Fishing Bay. Tidal data from the station will be used for high-water analyses to support wetlands restoration. NOS’s National Geodetic Survey will connect the tidal data to geodetic data using static Global Positioning System techniques. This information will assist with restoration planning efforts. The National Aquarium in Baltimore and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are also partners in this project. A press event will take place at the refuge on October 17. For more information, contact Kristen Tronvig.

NOS Researchers Study Littleneck Clams in Alaska

Researchers in NOS’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research have found that littleneck clams -- an important commercial and recreational fishery species found in Alaskan waters -- rely heavily on intertidal benthic microalgae (primarily diatoms) for growth rather than phytoplankton in the water column. This finding could potentially affect shellfish aquaculture operations. It also could help scientists predict the consequences of oil spills and climate change on food webs in Alaskan coastal ecosystems. For more information, contact Carolyn Currin.

NOS Releases Data on Chesapeake Bay Contamination

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment recently released final data on chemical contaminant levels, toxicity tests, and the distribution of benthic fauna in the Chesapeake Bay. The data provide the largest geographically comprehensive assessment of the bay in terms of the extent and severity of sediment contamination. Researchers will use this data to produce a comprehensive assessment report for the bay. Preliminary assessments indicate that the northern bay and selected tributaries are more contaminated than other regions, but distribution of contaminants and local effects are influenced by physical parameters and other stressors (e.g., hypoxia). For more information, contact Ian Hartwell.


October 3, 2003

Another Season of Discoveries at Sea

The NOAA Ocean Explorer Web offering completed its third successful season on October 2 with dives exploring deep-sea coral habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This year's eight main expeditions investigated underwater locales including sea-floor methane seeps off the coast of North Carolina; submarine volcanoes in the Mariana Arc, north of Guam in the western Pacific; and the steamship Portland, which sank off the coast of Massachusetts in 1898. Ocean explorers of all ages follow the expeditions via the NOAA Ocean Explorer Web site, maintained by the National Ocean Service. For more information, contact Brian Johnson.

MPA Connections Corrects Misconceptions

The latest in a series of articles on misconceptions about marine protected areas is in the September 2003 issue of MPA Connections. Other articles include a report on the first regional social science research strategy workshop held for the Caribbean and South Florida, and the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program's use of the Marine Managed Areas Inventory to study U.S. coral reef ecosystems. The newsletter reaches more than 1,800 people worldwide. For more information, contact Dana Topousis.

New Great Lakes Geodetic Tool

This month, the National Ocean Service will release a new Web-based tool for datum conversion.   The tool will allow data to be shared between the North American Vertical Datum 1988 (NAVD 88) and the International Great Lakes Datum 1985 (IGLD 85). While NAVD 88 is the official vertical datum for the United States, the IGLD 85 is used in many applications involving Great Lakes water levels. Development and review of the project involved a number of partners, including the International Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data. The tool will be available through the NGS Geodetic Tool Kit produced by NOS's National Geodetic Survey. For more information, contact Dennis Milbert.

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