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February 16, 2007

CONTACT: Ben Sherman
(301) 713-3066 ext 178

US Board of Geographic Names Honors Coast Survey Commemorating 200th Anniversary of NOAA Predecessor

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has unanimously voted to name the area off the southwest coast of Alaska at 49N, 159 W, “the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Seamount Province” in recognition of the 200-year legacy of science and service that the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, which dates from a February 10, 1807 executive order by President Thomas Jefferson, has provided. The name is the first to recognize an agency.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is an interdepartmental federal agency whose purpose is to establish and maintain uniform usage of geographic names.

The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, a predecessor agency of today’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the nation’s first scientific agency, charted the nation’s ports and waterways, researched physical characteristics of the ocean bottom, and explored many of the world’s oceans. The organization was known for a tradition of perseverance, scientific integrity, engraving and charting skills bordering on art, and courage demanded of explorers charting the unknown.

“This year we are proud to be holding a year long celebration of 200 years of science, service, and stewardship to the nation with its roots in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey,” said Captain Steven R. Barnum, director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey, which continues to carry out the original agency's mission. “We are honored that the U.S. Board of Geographic Names has helped us to commemorate this distinguished occasion.”

During the mid-1920s and 1930s, the Coast and Geodetic Survey conducted systematic surveys across the Gulf of Alaska and explored much of the northern Pacific Ocean, charting the waters and discovering numerous seamounts. The majority of seamounts and knolls in this region are named for nineteenth century Coast and Geodetic Survey personnel.

There are an estimated 30,000 seamounts, mountains rising from the ocean seafloor that do not reach the water's surface, which occur across the globe, with only a few having been studied. The first undersea island to be called a seamount, located off the coast of central California, was named for George Davidson, one of the great explorers and scientist of the U.S. Coast Survey. Seamounts are important as hotspots of marine life in the vast realms of the open ocean. As they tower over the surrounding seabed they tend to concentrate water currents creating their own localized tides, eddies and nutrient-rich upwellings.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.


On the Web:


NOAA 200th Celebration:

NOAA National Ocean Service:

NOAA Office of Coast Survey:






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