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July 23, 2007

Contact: David Hall
(301) 713-3066, ext 191

New Web Site Provides Pacific Northwest Shellfish Growers with Real-time Water Quality Data

Shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest can now closely monitor the safety of their oysters, mussels, and clams thanks to a new Web based information system that provides near-real time water quality information. This information is available from the System Wide Monitoring Program operating at NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRS) in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, as well as from four buoys in Hood Canal operated by the University of Washington’s Oceanic Remote Chemical-Optical Analyzer project.

“NOAA is committed to working with our partners to provide coastal and ocean resource users with accurate, timely environmental data,” said Laurie McGilvray, chief of NOAA’s Estuarine Reserves Division, which administers NERRS. “This project demonstrates the value of such partnerships, the core principle of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.”

The data are provided for shellfish growers through a Web site,, jointly sponsored by NERRS and the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, or NANOOS.

The Web site displays up-to-date water temperature, salinity, oxygen, turbidity, pH, and chlorophyll data from the Kachemak Bay, Alaska; Padilla Bay, Wash.; and South Slough, Ore. reserves, as well as from Hood Canal, Wash. Future sites are also being planned.

“Current, accurate assessments of water quality data will help commercial shellfish growers manage their stocks to protect public health from potentially dangerous shellfish diseases that can result from sudden changes in water quality,” said Cathy Angell, the coastal training program coordinator at the Padilla Bay reserve, who spearheaded development of the Web site with support from research coordinators at the three reserves. “For example, in Alaska, growers are particularly concerned about vibrio, a bacterium that flourishes with excessive temperature or salinity changes. Growers in Kachemak Bay could reposition their nets based on data that comes out of the reserve.”

The project received funding from NOAA’s Coastal Services Center, the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association, and NANOOS. Technical assistance was provided by the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association and the Pacific Shellfish Institute.

The data are available thanks to the telemetering capability added to the System Wide Monitoring Program last year in order to strengthen the burgeoning Integrated Ocean Observing System. Water quality and weather data are transmitted every 30 minutes via satellite from monitoring stations at all 27 National Estuarine Research Reserves. NANOOS added other real-time sites from their system.

NERRS is a network of 27 estuarine areas in 23 states and Puerto Rico protected for long-term research, education and stewardship. Each reserve is managed by a state agency or university in collaboration with other local partners. NOAA provides matched funding and national program guidance and technical assistance.

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.

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On the Web:


NOAA’s National Ocean Service:

National Estuarine Research Reserves:

Real-Time Water Quality Data for Pacific Northwest Shellfish Growers:


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