Kid-Friendly Tool Demonstrates Role Estuaries Play in Water Filtration
Helping students and teachers understand the valuable role estuaries play in our daily lives is an important component of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System's mission. OCM created a new animation, "Estuaries: Nature's Water Filters," to engage and educate kids by demonstrating, in a fun way, how estuaries clean water as it flows from land to sea. The animation also features an interactive pollution game, which helps students understand what can cause decreased water quality and how their actions impact the health of estuaries. The reserve education coordinators will use this animation as a supplement to lessons in the Estuaries 101 curriculum, in presentations, and in exhibits.
Guam Leaders and Locals Unite in Coral Conservation
During this third International Year of the Reef, Guam officials recently also declared it the Guam Year of the Reef, pledging additional support for marine conservation in recognition of the countless ways reefs are critical to the island and its citizens. Tourism accounts for 60 percent of this tropical U.S. territory's business revenue, and at least $56 million pours into Guam's economy annually from scuba diving—all of which would be lost without corals. The year-long celebration, which will feature beach cleanups, festivals, and multiple training and educational events, aims to bring the importance of coral reefs to the forefront of leaders' and locals' minds. NOAA's CRCP was a founding member of the Year of the Reef Initiative.
NOAA Broadcasts Live Exploration of Deep-sea Habitats in Gulf of Mexico
Last week, scientists began a 23-day mission aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect baseline information on poorly understood deep-sea habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. The team is collecting data on areas identified by ocean management and scientific communities as priority exploration areas. Most of the gulf's deep waters are unexplored, but past explorations revealed a variety of habitats, including deep-sea coral gardens, submarine canyons, gas and oil seeps, mud volcanoes, and submerged cultural heritage sites. The telepresence-enabled expedition uses remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to survey deepwater areas and broadcast high-definition video in real-time over the internet. NCCOS staff are co-leading the expedition's science activities and are providing live commentary of all ROV dives, scheduled to occur daily from April 12 to May 2. Follow the expedition by watching the live video feeds or visiting the expedition's website.
CO-OPS Field Team Repairs Visibility Sensor After Ship Strike
The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Service's Gulf Coast Field Team repaired the Pinto Island visibility station in Mobile Bay, part of the Mobile, Alabama Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS®). The team speedily installed a new bulkhead mount with minimal data interruption. The new mount is built to better withstand future ship strikes. PORTS like the one in Mobile help make maritime transportation safer and more efficient by integrating real-time environmental data (water levels, tides, currents, waves, salinity, bridge air gap) and meteorological parameters (winds, atmospheric pressure, air and water temperatures) with forecasts and other geospatial information, tailoring the output to the needs of local communities.
Streamlining Information Sharing during Oil Spills
The Office of Response and Restoration's ERMA® and ResponseLink developers are integrating the two systems in anticipation of a potential oil spill or other sudden pollution event. The password-protected ResponseLink website is an internal site developed by OR&R to share information during pollution response operations within NOAA and between federal, state, and local partners. ERMA, also developed by OR&R, is an online mapping tool that provides environmental resource managers, spill response teams, and natural resource damage assessment personnel with spatial data and analyses to inform decision making.
Cyclone Damages Corals in American Samoa
An assessment of damage wrought by Category 2 Cyclone Gita in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa showed that Fagatele Bay sustained damage mostly to table and branching Acropora corals, which are susceptible to large wave action and marine debris propelled by cyclone-induced waves. The eastern part of Fagatele Bay felt the worst effects, with areas showing an estimated 20 percent damage to coral colonies. Other coral colonies sustained little to no damage.
Fast Chart Update for a Busy Florida Port
NOAA Coast Survey used its NOAA ENC® (Electronic Navigational Charts) system to quickly update essential chart information to accurately reflect the 225-foot expansion of a slip (the portion of a pier where a boat is berthed or moored) in Port Everglades, FL. Port Everglades is one of the top three cruise ports in the world and every slip there is heavily used. OCS used discrete shoreline snippets of the target areas, provided by NGS’s Remote Sensing Division, to ensure a quick turnaround of the corrected charts, which OCS made readily available to the port.
Living Shorelines Help Clams Thrive in Chesapeake Bay
A National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science-funded study tracking the effects of living shoreline construction in the Chesapeake Bay showed that this approach increased the number and size of clams in the areas studied within two years. Human population growth and sea-level rise increase the need to protect coastal property from shoreline erosion. Living shorelines make use of plants and natural materials, instead of retaining walls, to stabilize marshland, but while they are increasingly popular with homeowners, their effects are not well understood. Studies like this one help improve coastal and resource management decision making.
Collaborating on West Coast Benthic Habitat Efforts
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and other national marine sanctuaries work with the broader scientific community to ensure that the most effective and rigorous science is utilized to address resource needs. A new collaborative effort between NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Geological Survey, Monterey Bay Research Institute, and the Expanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems (EXPRESS) focuses on shared interests and needs for benthic habitat studies along the West Coast. The partners overlap in their focus of supporting the sustainable use of living marine resources while assessing and managing coastal hazards and offshore energy. Collaborative efforts are essential to supporting the competing needs of ocean resources and the communities that depend on them.
'CZMA 101' Educates New Coastal Program Managers
New Office for Coastal Management staff members often encounter a steep learning curve, particularly when it comes to understanding Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) funding. OCM’s Coastal Zone Management Act 101 training provides new employees with resources and information by helping them understand CZMA funding and preparing them to manage cooperative agreements. The recent addition of a third training module, “Funding and Cooperative Agreements,” includes examples of funded projects, interactive games and quizzes, quick references, checklists, and a worksheet.
NOAA Co-hosts Sixth International Marine Debris Conference
NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the United Nations Environment Programme co-hosted the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego. The event brought together more than 700 participants from over 50 countries to assess progress made since the last conference , and to strategize ways to minimize the impacts of marine debris going forward. Conference participants attended several plenary sessions and panels, and more than 70 technical sessions featuring 400 oral presentations and 180 posters. Attendees also contributed to Zero Waste initiatives (a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused) throughout the event. As a result, the conference prevented the use of more than 3,000 plastic water bottles, diverted nearly four tons of waste from a landfill, and composted nearly 3.5 tons of food waste.
NGS and Canadian Counterparts Foster LIDAR Integration
Over the last decade, LIDAR sensor enhancements increased the use of bathymetric LIDAR in a variety of applications. As a result, the quantity of bathymetric LIDAR data increased substantially. However, fully integrating LIDAR data into products meeting standard accuracy requirements remains a significant challenge. At the 2018 Joint Canadian Hydrographic and National Surveyors‘ Conference in Victoria, British Columbia, National Geodetic Survey and the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) presented an approach for LIDAR data users to integrate their bathymetric data. CHS and NGS personnel are planning a future meeting to further discuss ways to address current LIDAR challenges.
Marine Protected Areas Featured in U.S. Coast Guard Journal
The Spring 2018 issue of the U.S. Coast Guard (USGC) journal Proceedings showcased the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of marine protected areas (MPAs). Contributors discussed various aspects of MPAs, including national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, as well as the ins and outs of monitoring human use of these areas and enforcing federal laws. The issue featured NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and MPA Center, among others. The journal has a diverse audience that includes more than 30,000 members of the maritime industry, scientists, and NGOs.
Four Algal Toxins Found in San Francisco Bay Mussels
According to a NOAA-funded project published in the journal Harmful Algae, 99 percent of mussels that University of California-Santa Cruz researchers collected in San Francisco Bay were contaminated with at least one algal toxin, and 37 percent contained four. Contaminated mussels pose a serious health threat to people and animals who eat them. Although San Francisco Bay lacks commercial shellfish operations, people still harvest and eat mussels from the Bay. While commercially harvested shellfish are generally safe because they undergo regular testing, two of the toxins found in the mussels from San Francisco Bay are not routinely monitored in California shellfish.
State Plane Coordinate System Report and Training Materials
The State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS) is a system of large-scale map projections created in the 1930s to support surveying, engineering, and mapping activities throughout the U.S. and its territories. As part of its modernization of the National Spatial Reference System in 2022, NGS will adopt a new SPCS. To aid in the transition, NGS published a special report, The State Plane Coordinate System: History, Policy, and Future Directions (PDF), that provides context for SPCS 2022. Additionally, NGS created a collection of web pages to help users learn how the SPCS will change in 2022 and how to use it. Finally, NGS launched a series of educational webinars to inform stakeholders of the reference system changes and how they can get information when using the SPCS in the future.
Navigation Response Team 5 Locates Sunken Vessel off Maine Coast
NOAA Coast Survey's Navigation Response Team (NRT) 5 responded to a request from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to locate a tugboat, the T/V Captain Mackintire, which recently sank off the coast of Maine. The USCG requested assistance due to the potential environmental hazard posed by an unknown amount of fuel remaining on the tugboat. With hazardous weather conditions brought by the nor’easter headed toward the Maine coast, NRT 5 immediately began survey operations. Within 15 minutes, the team located the tugboat.