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May 30, 2003

NOAA Ocean Explorer Receives Scientific American Award

This week, NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) received news that Scientific American has selected the NOAA Ocean Explorer Web site as a winner of its 2003 Sci/Tech Web Awards, and one of only five sites in the Earth and Environment category. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in America (since 1845), publishes 15 foreign language editions and has a worldwide circulation of 1 million. Each year, the magazine's editors review more than 1,000 Web sites and select the 50 that they deem the “most innovative, creative, and valuable as science and technology resources for our readers.” Ocean Explorer is keeping impressive company. Other winning sites this year include PBS's Voyage of the Odyssey, the Royal Institution of Great Britain's Molecular Universe, and Rice University's Galileo Project. NOS launched the Ocean Explorer Web site in April 2001 and continues to manage it.

To see the winners in the Earth and Environment category, click on the Sci/Tech Web Awards 2003 article on the front page of the Scientific American Web site, and then select Earth and Environment. For more information, contact Brian Johnson at (301) 713-3060 ext 111.

May 23, 2003

Local Media Teams with NOS to Highlight Coastal Living Issues

On May 13, Washington, DC-area meterologist Bob Ryan and his NBC StormCenter 4 staff joined Peyton Robertson, Holly Dehart, and other National Ocean Service (NOS) staff at the Chesapeake Bay Office aboard the NOAA Bay Hydrographer for a demonstration of hydrographic survey operations. The tour provided the finishing touches for a special news segment about Living Along the Coast. and the National Environmental Education Training Foundation partnered with NOAA/NOS and other federal agencies to use the weather time slot on Channel 4's broadcast news as an opportunity to provide information to the public about the coastal environment. The newscast was Thursday, May 22 at 5pm. View the Along the Coast Web site.

Valuable Civil War-era Nautical Documents Recently Restored

A Civil War-era set of sailing directions and nautical charts has recently been restored, thanks in part to the efforts of NOS’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS). The Notes on the Coast of the United States were first prepared in 1861 under the direction of A.D. Bache, and were instrumental to the Union Army and Navy operations during the Civil War. The Northeast Document Conservation Center provided the specialized expertise needed to properly restore the set of documents, which cover sailing directions for the nation’s east and gulf coasts. Once complete, the restored charts will be housed in the NOAA Center Library rare book room. Eventually, OCS will work with NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program to scan the old charts to make them available on the Internet. Other historic civil war charts and sketches are available on the OCS Web site. For more information, contact John Nyberg at (301) 713-2729.

Marine Wildlife-watching Handbook Now Available from NOS’s Sanctuary Program

NOS’s National Marine Sanctuary Program recently completed Responsibly Watching California’s Marine Wildlife: A Handbook for Ocean Users. The handbook, which was a collaborative effort between the sanctuary program and NOAA’s Fisheries, was first introduced last February during a California marine wildlife viewing workshop. The handbook is the first version of what will become a more refined and comprehensive marine wildlife viewing handbook to complement a sanctuary-wide program. View the handbook on the sanctuaries online Library page. For more information, contact Columbine Culberg at (301) 713-3125.

May 16, 2003

Plan for Louisiana Restoration Activities Now Available for Review

A plan for Louisiana restoration activities has been developed and is now available for public review. The Regional Restoration Planning Program, developed by federal and state natural resource trustees, is designed to help natural resource managers respond to real or threatened oil discharges. The goals of the program include:

  • expediting and reducing the cost of natural resource damage assessment;
  • providing a consistent damage assessment process to minimize uncertainty among the public and industry; and
  • increasing restoration of lost natural resources and services.

The program is described in a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which is available for review on the Damage Assessment and Restoration Program Web site. Comments will be received through July 9, 2003. For additional information contact Lisa DiPinto at 301-713-3038 x187.

Historical Hurricanes Web Site Recognized for Excellence

The Historical Hurricane Tracks Web site, developed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, received a five-star ranking by Emerald publishing company. Sites are reviewed by specialists and rated on five key criteria: style, structure, ease of use, quality of information, and usefulness to the practitioner. The review noted the hurricane site as “excellent” and “a high-tech site, well deserving of a breezy five stars.” The site, an interactive mapping application that allows users to easily search and display data on tropical cyclones of the last 150 years within the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, was also recognized as the Hydraulic Engineering Coolsite for the month of April on the Emerald Web site. For more information, contact Russell Jackson.

May 9, 2003

NOS’s Sanctuary Program Christens New Research Vessel

The National Ocean Service’s (NOS’s) National Marine Sanctuary Program will christen its newest research vessel May 12 at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The high-speed, 62-ft. R/V Shearwater, which has an aluminum hull, is the first research vessel to be built specifically for use within NOS’s sanctuaries. It will be used to conduct extensive research and scuba dive operations within the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries. The christening wil take place at the Sea Landing Dock at Santa Barbara Harbor, which will be the vessel’s homeport. Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Calif), NOS’s Captain Ted. L. Lillestolen, National Marine Sanctuary Program Director Daniel Basta, and Channel Islands Sanctuary Manager Chris Mobley will attend the event. For more information, read the press release (pdf, 88 Kb) or contact Angela Calos at (301) 713-3125 x205.

NOAA Survey Vessel Decommissioned

Another NOAA ship, Whiting, was recently decommissioned after a long and fruitful career. A May 2 ceremony marked the retirement of the survey vessel, which had been in service for nearly 40 years. Whiting was used for many hydrographic surveying missions and contributed to homeland security efforts during its tenure. Speakers Rear Admiral Fields, Rear Admiral Prahl and Captain David McFarland paid respect to the vessel, and numerous former officers and crew who lived and served on Whiting attended the ceremony as well. The naval vessel Littlehales will replace Whiting to continue NOAA’s hydrographic surveying efforts. For more information, contact Lt. Jon Swallow at (301) 713-2702.

NOS’s Electronic Navigational Charts Becoming More Popular

NOS’s electronic navigational charts (ENCs) are increasing in popularity and continue to be downloaded at brisk rates. More than 500,000 ENCs have been downloaded since they were first introduced online in July 2001. In just one day—May 2—more than 7,200 ENC files were downloaded. ENCs essentially are “smart charts.” They help mariners avoid collisions and conduct safe navigation in constantly changing conditions. They also can display real-time tide and current data, which is especially crucial for navigating large vessels. ENCs are available for download online at no cost. Files and more information on ENCs can be found here.

May 2, 2003

NOS Responds to Oil Spill off Massachusetts Coast

NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) responded to an oil spill April 28 in Buzzards Bay, Mass., that had leaked approximately 15,000 gallons of oil after colliding with an unknown obstruction. The Bouchard 120 barge was carrying more than 4 million gallons of fuel oil and was leaking for approximately 13 miles before the leak was detected. The scientific support coordinator from NOS’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) has been onsite providing information about the directional movement of the spilled oil. The coordinator also is providing information about the natural resources at risk and the response options available. OR&R’s injury assessment coordinator also is on the scene, collecting data on the damage to local natural resources. This data will be helpful when restoration efforts begin in the area. Some oiled birds and one oiled seal have been found. For more information about the response effort, contact Tom Callahan at (206) 526-6326. For more information about damage assessment, contact Frank Csulak at (732) 872-3005.

Long-term Florida Bay Data to Aid in Everglades Restoration Effort

Nineteen years of monitoring the composition and distribution of fish in the Florida Bay will help determine the success of restoration efforts upstream in the Everglades, according to NOS’s Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. Since 1984, scientists have been examining the effects of nutrient loads on Florida Bay fish, invertebrates, plants and their habitats. Everglades restoration efforts are expected to reduce the amount of nutrients that end up in the bay, and the Center’s long-term baseline data will help determine if restoration efforts are successful in reducing nutrient flow. The spotted seatrout, which lives in the bay for its entire lifetime, will be used as an indicator species to determine the performance level of the restoration effort. Management techniques will then be adapted as needed. An atlas summarizing the 19 years of surveying is under development. The atlas will include life history characteristics of 67 fish species and their habitat requirements. For more information, contact Allyn Powell at (252) 728-8769.

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