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Weekly News: March 2005

March 18, 2005
March 11, 2005

March 18, 2005

Bacterium that Inhibits Growth of Toxic Organisms Identified

A bacterium that inhibits growth of Pfiesteria piscicida and two other potentially toxic unicellular organisms was recently isolated from the Delaware Inland Bays by scientists sponsored by NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS). Scientists are interested in this bacterium because Pfiesteria blooms have been blamed for fish kills and human health problems in estuarine areas, especially along the mid-Atlantic coast. As a result, there is considerable interest in both understanding natural control and developing effective short-term biological control. Additional testing will be necessary before this can be considered as a form of biological control. NCCOS-sponsored scientists recently published this finding in the journal Harmful Algae, noting that it will only be effective in very limited settings, such as aquaria or aquaculture facilities. For more information, contact Quay Dortch.


Algae Monitoring Network Expanded

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and its partners, North Carolina Sea Grant and the Southeast Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, recently expanded the Southeast Phytoplankton Monitoring Network by adding 14 new North Carolina groups to the network. Sixty volunteer groups now monitor 72 coastal sites weekly from Georgia to North Carolina, for 26 species of algae, but chiefly for five species that cause harmful algal blooms. This program connects hundreds of volunteers to coastal stewardship efforts and increases the awareness of teachers, students, state park personnel, and community interest groups to harmful algae issues. Observing and identifying algae along the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia coasts also assists coastal managers to identify species and their distribution patterns, and can provide early warnings regarding the presence of potentially harmful species. For more information, contact Steve Morton.


Sea Floor Mapping Related to Continental Shelf Claims

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) and the University of New Hampshire’s Joint Hydrographic Center (JHC) are collaborating on sea floor mapping related to claims to the continental shelf that extend beyond the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone under provisions of the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). According to Article 76 of UNCLOS, the 2500-meter depth contour and the foot of the continental slope are key features in delineating national claims for the continental shelf beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone. Since October 2004, OCS, JHC, the Naval Oceanographic Office, and a private survey contractor have mapped 300,000 square kilometers of U.S. continental margin along the East Coast to support potential claims. This group is planning additional surveys in the Atlantic and Pacific. NOAA supports the U.S. ratification of UNCLOS for the purpose of sharing science with other UNCLOS nations that are currently submitting continental shelf claims without U.S. participation in UNCLOS. The recently released U.S. Ocean Action Plan supports accession to UNCLOS "as a matter of national security, economic self-interest, and international leadership." For more information, contact Andy Armstrong.


March 11, 2005

Real-time Data Helps Identify Coastal Oregon Erosion Hotspots

Hourly data from observing platforms along a nine-mile stretch of the Oregon coast is being incorporated into an interactive, Internet-based geographic information system (GIS) application. The data helps state coastal resource managers assess the potential for shoreline erosion and establish safe distances for home construction and other development away from unstable shoreline. The application was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coastal Services Center and the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Program as part of the Coastal Storms Program, Pacific Northwest Pilot effort. The data from the observing platforms is input to an empirical wave runup model designed for coastal Oregon. The NOAA National Data Buoy Center and the NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services' National Water Level Observation Network maintain these observing platforms. The application can be accessed on the Web page for the Coastal Storms Program Oregon Coastal Inundation Tool. (Use Internet Explorer.) For more information, contact Ethan Gibney.


Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria Found in Wild Dolphins

Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) have found antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria in wild dolphin populations in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida and Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Dolphins harboring multiple antibiotic drug-resistant E. coli were isolated from wild captured dolphins; E. coli from 20 percent of the Florida dolphins and 70 percent of the South Carolina dolphins showed resistance to one or more of 26 antibiotics evaluated. These findings were reported at the semi-annual meeting of the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society held February 28 – March 2, 2005 in Charleston, SC. This study is part of NCCOS’s Dolphin Health and Risk Assessment Project which assesses dolphin health relative to environmental factors. The results of this study increase understanding of the transfer and potential impacts of antibiotic resistance in coastal dolphins. For more information, contact John Bemiss.


NOAA Takes Stock at 13th Meeting of U.S. Coral Reef Task Force

On March 2-3, 2005, NOAA co-chaired the 13th public meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF), held in Washington, DC at the U.S. Department of the Interior. The task force assessed past and current actions of the 19-agency body to highlight collaborative coral reef conservation success and to discuss ongoing needs. It also announced that two reports, both aimed at helping NOAA and partner agencies take stock of U.S. coral ecosystem conservation, will soon be released: “State of the Coral Reefs of the US: 2004” and NOAA's Report to Congress on the implementation of the 2002 National Coral Reef Action Strategy. For more information, contact Beth Dieveney or visit NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program Web site to learn about its coral reef conservation activties.

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