NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. The ship's ruptured hull spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil. Within hours after the spill began, a team of scientists from NOS's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) arrived at the remote location. For the next six months, OR&R experts worked at the scene nearly around the clock, predicting the spill's trajectory, participating in overflights, collecting samples in the affected area, and providing scientific support.

There are a number of opportunities to learn more about the spill. OR&R has set up an excellent page with background on the spill, lessons learned, and information about studies of the environment's recovery from the spill. The office is also adding several blog posts reflecting on the event. On March 24, OR&R will host a Tweetchat at 12:00 p.m. Pacific/3:00 p.m. Eastern. Participants can ask questions of OR&R biologist Gary Shigenaka---who began his career in oil spill response with this very spill. To learn more about the Tweetchat, visit this page.

In addition to these resources, be sure to check out the the Ocean Today video, "Lessons from Valdez: 25 Years Later." On March 21, you will also be able to listen to the newest Making Waves audio podcast, "Exxon Valdez: 25 Years Later" that includes an interview with Mr. Shigenaka.

Thank you,

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service

Around NOS

Galveston Bay Closed to Oyster Harvesting After Toxic Algal Bloom Detected

The Texas Department of State Health Services is temporarily closing all of the Galveston Bay system to the harvesting of oysters, clams, and mussels because of elevated levels of an alga that can produce a toxin in some shellfish. Texas A&M University scientists, funded by NCCOS, detected the harmful algal bloom and notified the state agency which then issued a precautionary closure of shellfish harvesting in Galveston Bay and adjacent areas. The NCCOS-sponsored researchers contributed to the development and operation of an instrument on a Port Aransas pier called FlowCytobot which continuously collects, identifies, and counts tiny algae in the water.

Contact: Quay Dortch or Marc Suddleson

Coastal Services Magazine Features Lessons in Resilience from Indigenous Tribes

How do you create a community resilient to climate change? Outside of the largest cities in the state of Washington, indigenous tribes are leading the way in creating plans for the predicted changes. The cover story of the April/May/June edition of Coastal Services highlights the plans developed by the Swinomish and the Jamestown S'Klallam tribes, as well as lessons learned from tribes across the country.

Contact: Hanna Goss

Emergency Information Now Available For Mobile-Friendly Users in Hawaii

Mobile internet users can now access tsunami evacuation zones and flood hazard zones for the State of Hawaii. Voyager Mobile now includes this information and nearest emergency shelter locations. IOOS obtained each of these data layers from the State of Hawaii GIS Program. Sources include flood hazard zones from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and tsunami evacuation zones and emergency shelters from the State of Hawaii Civil Defense.

Contact: Jennie Lyons

Promoting and Participating in Bench Mark Campaign

NGS encourages anyone with survey-grade Global Positioning System receivers to join the 2014 GPS on Bench Marks Campaign, a National Surveyors Week event planned for the week of March 16 to 22. The program will help improve the National Spatial Reference System, the coordinate system defined and maintained by NGS to provide latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation for the United States. The nation's height system is founded on historic geodetic leveling survey bench marks that are often difficult and expensive to access. Additional GPS data collected during this campaign will provide cost-effective benefits in many areas of the country.

Contact: Christine Gallagher

Into the Gyre Panel Discussion

Staff from the Marine Debris Program participated in a panel discussion on Into the Gyre, an award-winning documentary about plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Ocean following a public screening at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, Georgia. Into the Gyre follows a team of intrepid NOAA-funded scientists investigating the location, extent, and concentration of marine debris floating on the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean. The team sailed east from Bermuda to the Sargasso Sea collecting, counting, and archiving the more than 48,000 pieces of plastic debris.

Contact: Jason Rolfe

New Flower Garden Banks Long-Term Monitoring Report

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published a new report, Long-Term Monitoring at the East and West Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, 2009-2010.  The report highlights the continued stability of the coral reef community and associated fish populations at East and West Flower Garden Banks. Random transect results revealed the average coral cover within study sites at both banks to be nearly 57 percent. Macroalgae cover was significantly higher in the east than the west and high seawater temperatures were observed during the late summer months of 2010, exceeding the 30°C coral bleaching threshold. However, minimal bleaching was observed within the study sites. Fish populations continued to be robust but sea urchin and spiny lobster abundance remained low.

Contact: Michelle Johnston

NOS Assistant Administrator
NOS Assistant Administrator Holly Bamford

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford

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