Weekly News: October 2006
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science scientists and colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have successfully deployed the first remote, sub-surface test for detection of the algal-produced neurotoxin, domoic acid (DA). The sensors are part of an Environmental Sample Processor designed to integrate with ocean observing systems and provide coastal managers with real time, early warnings of impending toxic algal blooms, to mitigate the frequently devastating impacts of these events. The toxin sensor and a molecular probe-based test for detection of DA-producing diatoms were deployed for up to two-week periods on a stationary mooring located in Monterey Bay, California. Data collected were transmitted to MBARI via radio modem and represent the first concurrent detection of a harmful algal species and its toxin by an autonomous instrument. For more information, Greg.Doucette@noaa.gov.
The NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson provided charting information in the vicinity of the Military Ocean Terminal (MOT) in Bayonne, New Jersey to the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) New York Waterways Division. The USCG requested updated bathymetry and positions on buoys near the terminal to ensure safe transit of the 900-foot-long World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. The Intrepid is moving from its berth on the northwest side of Manhattan to the MOT for a two-year dry-dock and dockside repair period. During the ship’s absence, the USS Intepid Sea, Air and Space Museum at Pier 86, where the vessel is currently docked, will be renovated and expanded. For more information, contact Jerry.Mills@noaa.gov.
Next week, NOS International Program Office staff will participate in a fact-finding mission to Guyana to initiate a pilot project to integrate the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) National Programme of Action (NPA) project format with the World Health Organization's Water Safety Plan (WSP) methodology. NOS is participating in the mission in collaboration with Guyanese government authorities, the Pan-American Health Organization, the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. NOS is involved in ongoing work with UNEP to implement NPAs, a management tool designed to prevent, reduce, control and/or eliminate marine degradation from land-based activities and promote an integrated watershed and coastal management approach. For more information, contact Ed.Kruse@noaa.gov or Karen.Salvini@noaa.gov.
The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) has upgraded equipment at the last of 33 water level stations to make them "Tsunami Ready" for the NOAA Tsunami Program. Tsunami-ready entails use of specific tide gauges, called Sutron Xpert Data Collection Platforms, configured to collect one-minute, averaged water level observations and transmit data via Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites every six minutes. Water level data from these tide gauges is directly accessible to NOAA's National Weather Service (Pacific and Alaska) Tsunami Warning Centers and may be used to confirm a tsunami event and better forecast the magnitude, direction, and speed of a tsunami wave. CO-OPS has also installed 15 new Tsunami-ready water level stations in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and on the West Coast. For more information, contact Manoj.Samant@noaa.gov.
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Special Projects Office scientists have published a spatial analysis of changes in submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in Vieques Sound, east of Puerto Rico, and provided recommendations for future monitoring. SAV provides important habitat and food functions for a wide variety of fish, invertebrates, and birds. Changes in SAV can have impacts on the species that depend on it. The analysis identifies specific areas of seagrass expansion and decline from 1985 to 2000, and discusses possible causes. Landsat image pairs, NOAA benthic habitat maps, and other data from the Summit-to-Sea project were used to identify significant changes in SAV, and link these to satellite-derived depth, characteristics of coastal watersheds on Vieques, and recent hurricane paths. The publication is available as a Portable Document Format (pdf) file from http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/bms, and a summary of the Summit-to-Sea characterization of coastal watersheds is available at http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/ecosystems/coralreef/summit_sea.html. For more information, contact Aurelie.Shapiro@noaa.gov.
Coastal managers of the Gulf and South Atlantic states and Mexico were recently informed of the possible threat to their native reef fish communities during the biannual meeting of the Gulf and South Atlantic Regional Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species. A scientist from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science told managers that no eradication or control measures for lionfish appear practical. Given the expanse of habitat and cost of eradication and control measures, coastal managers were encouraged to focus efforts on prevention of potentially invasive marine finfish. The Gulf and South Atlantic Regional Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species is one of six regional panels of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.To learn more about the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force visit http://www.anstaskforce.gov. For more information, contact James.Morris@noaa.gov.
Staff from the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and National Marine Fisheries Service's Pacific Islands Regional Office led a workshop last week to further the development of a national management framework for marine parks in the British Virgin Islands. Twenty government, non-government, and community stakeholder representatives developed goals and objectives for the national system and a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure the effectiveness of the monitoring and evaluation systems. The workshop results will strengthen coral reef ecosystem management efforts throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. For more information, contact Jason.Philibotte@noaa.gov or John.Parks@noaa.gov.
Beginning this month, NOAA and partners from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department started providing forecasts of harmful algal blooms (HABs) along the coast of Texas. The HAB Forecasting System is a collaborative effort that relies on satellite imagery, real-time and forecast winds, and field samples of the algae Karenia brevis to provide information on the location, extent, and movement of HABs. This information is integrated and analyzed by a team of ecological forecasters and then sent out as a bulletin to coastal managers twice a week in the event of a bloom. Previously released bulletins and information about potential health impacts and confirmed fish kills are available on the HAB Forecasting System Web site at http://www.csc.noaa.gov/crs/habf/. For more information, contact Rebecca.Love@noaa.gov or Richard.Stumpf@noaa.gov.
Working together, staff from the Fagatele Bay Sanctuary, the National Park Service, the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, the (Western) Samoa Government, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary have documented a record number of whales in American Samoa waters. Last week, up to eighteen individual whales were sighted in a single day over a relatively small area of the shelf to the west of Tutuila. This shelf is part of a recently mapped system of submerged reefs and banks that surround Tutuila and extend up to five miles offshore. These shallow areas provide unique habitats where humpback whales calve and breed after spending the southern summer months feeding in Antarctic waters. Ideal survey conditions over the last week have helped scientists to obtain unprecedented data that includes population demographics, individual identification photos, and samples for genetic analysis. The team is also training local staff in field techniques so future data collection efforts can occur over greater time periods and areas. American Samoa's territorial waters are designated as a whale sanctuary and the work of the team reinforces the importance of American Samoa as a significant southern hemisphere site for Pacific whale research and protection. For more information, contact William.Kiene@noaa.gov.
NOAA Administrator Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, along with representatives from NOAA's National Geodetic Survey and the National Marine Fisheries Service, unveiled a commemorative geodetic marker at the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington. The celebration and marker honor three quarters of a century of science and stewardship at the center. The special commemorative positioning marker will be installed at the facility after completion of a major renovation project. The geodetic marker will then be surveyed and incorporated into the National Spatial Reference System, which serves as the foundation for latitude, longitude and elevation in the United States. For more information, contact Casey.Brennan@noaa.gov.
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority led the production of a new document entitled "A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching." Over 50 experts from 25 organizations contributed to the guide, including multiple NOAA offices, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, and others. The document, a product of a 2002 resolution by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, meets the need for information and tools addressing coral bleaching. The guide is the first document providing coral reef managers and scientists with the current information on effects and causes of coral bleaching and provides pragmatic, science-based strategies for adaptive management of this threat to coral reef ecosystems. For more information, contact Roger.Griffis@noaa.gov.
In September, NOAA received an official delegation from Chile as part of an exchange program on marine protected area management systems, a project of the US-Chile Fisheries Bilateral Cooperation between NOAA and Chile. The Chileans met with the National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NMSP), International Programs Office, the National Marine Fisheries Service. The trip also included a visit to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Two Chilean staff members from national marine management agencies will work and train for two months with NMSP staff in Silver Spring, Maryland and at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Both activities are part of the ongoing US-Chile Fisheries Bilateral Cooperation between NOAA and Chile's SUBPESCA - the fisheries management agency. For more information, contact Gonzalo.Cid@noaa.gov.
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