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Weekly News: September 2006
September 2006

September 29, 2006
September 22, 2006
September 15, 2006
September 8, 2006
September 1, 2006

September 29, 2006


NOAA Commemorates Lewis and Clark's Historic Journey

NOAA's National Geodetic Survey recently set a commemorative marker in the shadow of the Saint Louis Gateway Arch.  This marker is set at the base of a new statue that was unveiled on September 23 to mark the return of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  This marker is the last of 15 commemorative marks that have been set at each of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Signature events.  These markers honor Lewis and Clark's contributions to mapping and are positioned using the Global Positioning System.  Their coordinates become a part of the National Spatial Reference System, which serves as the nation’s geodetic reference framework for latitude, longitude, and elevation.  Smaller markers have also been placed at various sites along Lewis and Clark’s route across the continent.  For more information, contact or visit


Determining Cause of Sea Turtle, Bird and Dolphin Strandings and Deaths

Scientists from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, and other organizations are trying to determine what has caused approximately 80 endangered loggerhead sea turtle strandings and sickness and death of high numbers of seabirds in southern Georgia and northeast Florida in mid-September.  Such mass stranding and mortality events among marine species can disrupt the food web, can further decimate populations of endangered species, and may provide warning that human health might also be impacted.  The investigative team has asked for assistance from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) for information on the oceanographic factors that may have caused the event.  NCCOS scientists are analyzing satellite imagery and other data to support field efforts. These collaborative efforts may help to determine the cause of this mortality and stranding event and to provide information to coastal managers and health agencies, for use in decision making and response.  For more information, contact or


Socioeconomic Maps for Florida Report Developed

The NOAA Coastal Services Center and the National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) recently released a report entitled, "Florida Oceans and Coastal Economies." The Center produced a series of maps for this report that illustrate demographic and economic trends in Florida since 1990. Sponsored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and produced with data from NOEP, this report was the first product in a broader study of Florida's ocean and coastal economies. Maps can be viewed by selecting "Florida Economic Maps" under the "Quick Links" heading at  For more information, contact Steven.O’ or



September 22, 2006


Monitoring Coral Reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program recently sponsored two workshops with government and non-governmental partners to identify needs and strategies to improve coordination and effectiveness of coral reef monitoring activities in the U.S. Caribbean.  The workshops, held in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), were organized by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science's Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessmentand NOAA Fisheries' Office of Habitat Conservation.  Participants assessed current levels of monitoring and determined the need and feasibility of monitoring coral reef ecosystems in a more comprehensive manner than is currently underway within Puerto Rico and the USVI.  The workshops will produce an initial plan on how best to integrate NOAA and other coral ecosystem monitoring studies to improve management capabilities and support future reports on the state of U.S. coral reef ecosystems.  A geo-spatial database documenting current coral reef ecosystem monitoring activities will also be produced as a result of the workshop.  For more information, contact


NOS Discusses Charting in Mexico and Cuba

Representatives from the Office of Coast Survey traveled to Mexico City to discuss chart boundary issues within the International Chart Scheme with Mexico and Cuba in anticipation of the MesoAmerican-Caribbean Sea Hydrographic Commission meeting in October.  The Coast Survey is providing essential chart data to Cuba and Mexico, so that they can update International Charts that fall within U.S. waters.  These updates will provide mariners with consistent data across borders.  During the meeting, a navigation safety issue regarding a critical chart component, the Notice to Mariners update report, was resolved by NOAA, resulting in an improvement to Cuba's charting procedures. For more information, contact


Reducing Impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms on Humans

A new report, Harmful Algal Research and Response: A Human Dimensions Strategy (HARR-HD), provides a detailed implementation plan for human dimensions research needed to reduce the public health, sociocultural, and economic impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs).  HARR-HD provides information needed to implement the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Amendments Act of 2004.  The report also offers an implementation strategy for "Public Health and Socioeconomic Impacts" recommendations of the National Plan for Algal Toxins and Harmful Algal Blooms.  The report is available online at:  For more information, contact



September 15, 2006


Hazards and Marine Debris Survey Project in Mississippi

On September 12, NOAA's Office of Coast Survey began implementing the Hazards and Marine Debris Survey project in Biloxi Bay, Mississippi.  The NOAA-funded survey team of contractors will search, detect, and report on any submerged objects left by Hurricane Katrina that pose a risk to commercial fishing and shrimping vessels. The Biloxi Bay survey is the start of a series of planned surveys along the coastal and offshore waters of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  NOAA, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR), and the U.S. Coast Guard (Mobile Sector) have identified the first set of areas to be surveyed.  Approximately 600 square miles of water bottom are to be surveyed in this first effort, which will be followed by additional surveying as funds are available. The survey findings will be used by Mississippi's DMR, the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to report, chart, assess, and remove the hazardous objects.  For more information, contact


Improving Response to Marine Mammal Stranding Mortality Events
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) scientists applied forensic techniques to determine "time since death" for deceased stranded marine mammals.  This information will be incorporated into NCCOS marine mammal stranding responses, to better determine which samples should be taken from animals in different states of decomposition. These more thorough examination and sample collection methods will be applied by NCCOS scientists to improve the processing of future mortality cases involving human interaction.  Additional training in expert witness testimony will allow NCCOS participants to more effectively communicate scientific research in a legal setting.  For more information, contact


Whales Saved from Entangled Fishing Gear

On August 29, a humpback whale entangled in a gillnet in Alaska was disentangled through the cooperation of many organizations in the lower Chatham Straits.  The whale was first sighted on August 20 and tagged with a telemetry buoy.  The disentanglement effort, which spanned ten days, was coordinated by the Humpback Whale Sanctuary's Marine Mammal Response Manager.  The manager was on temporary detail in Juneau, in a partnership between NOAA Fisheries and the sanctuary program to develop whale rescue capabilities along the West Coast of the U.S.

On September 3, there was another humpback whale entangled with commercial fishing gear off Carmel Bay in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Disentangling of the whale was successful due to the coordinated efforts of the sanctuary, the Marine Mammal Center, and NOAA's Fisheries Marine Mammal Stranding Network.  For more information, contact (Alaska) and Officer Bob Yerena at (831) 647-4203 (California).



September 8, 2006


Hurricane Ernesto Damage Images Available
On September 2 and 3, scientists from the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) collected damage assessment imagery following the landfall of Hurricane Ernesto.  NGS collected more than 1,100 images over northeastern North Carolina, which was damaged by extensive flooding. The imagery was requested by the State of North Carolina for assessment and recovery efforts.  The images are posted on the NOAA web site for public and private sector use, and can be found at


No Major Contamination in Gulf Coast Mussels after 2005 Hurricanes

A scientist from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science recently presented Mussel Watch Project data that showed no major indication of chemical contamination in mussels as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Presented at the 93rd annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection, the results were drawn from data collected at 14 Gulf Coast sites during a post-hurricane assessment and from twenty years of monitoring trend data.  The Mussel Watch results supported information presented by NOAA partners and other agencies showing no indication of contamination that would cause problems with food safety. For more information, contact


New East Coast Topographic, Bathymetric Data Available

Combined topography and bathymetry from light detection and ranging (LIDAR) collected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 2005 and 2006 is now available for download. The coverage area of the newly added data extends approximately 500 meters inland and up to 1,000 meters seaward of coastal New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina. The NOAA Coastal Services Center distributes topographic and bathymetric LIDAR data collected by the Center and partners. The data can be accessed via a Web-based application named the LIDAR Data Retrieval Tool (LDART). In the coming weeks, the Center will also be adding USACE LIDAR data collected in coastal North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. To access the data download page, please visit  For more information, contact



September 1, 2006


Enhancing Safe Navigation In and Around Marine Managed Areas

Marine managed areas (MMAs) off Alaska's southern coast are now better understood and perhaps a bit safer as a result of an innovative partnership between NOAA's Office of Coast Survey and the National Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center. Last week, the Coast Survey published the first volume of the United States Coast Pilot (#8), which contains key information about the location, purpose, and allowable activities of existing marine managed areas between Alaska's Dixon Entrance and Cape Spencer. This collaborative effort is intended to improve stewardship and effectiveness of existing marine managed areas and marine protected areas by providing key information to the maritime industry, fishermen, the military, boaters, and other coastal users of sensitive marine ecosystems. The project synthesizes data from the MPA Center's unique national inventory of MMAs, which are then incorporated into the Coast Pilot in a user-friendly format emphasizing issues relevant to mariners. The next volume to be published will cover the North Atlantic, from Cape Henry to Key West. For more information, contact or


Iraqi Delegation to Visit and Work at NOAA

Beginning September 5th, NOAA's National Geodetic Survey will host five Iraqi nationals for three weeks under an agreement sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The delegation represents the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), which will ultimately assume responsibility for the Iraqi Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) network installed by the U.S. Army as part of the Iraqi Geospatial Reference System (IGRS).  NOAA provided critical assistance in the design, development, and implementation of the IGRS, which was modeled after the NOAA-managed National Spatial Reference System in the United States.  Currently, six Iraqi Continuously Operating Reference Stations are fully operational.  Army, Air Force, Marine, and civilian surveyors from many nations and disciplines are using the CORS stations and NOAA's Online Positioning-User Service for projects all across Iraq.  Hosting these technical experts gives NOAA a unique opportunity to demonstrate global leadership by building Iraq's capacity to maintain a contemporary spatial reference system.  For more information, contact


Assessing Mercury Levels in Dolphins

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science scientists report levels of total mercury five times higher in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida compared to those near Charleston, South Carolina. These levels may correspond to higher mercury atmospheric deposition in Florida reported elsewhere. Levels of mercury in skin were found to correlate with blood mercury levels. This research suggests that dolphin skin biopsies may be a useful environmental indicator for mercury accumulation.  Studies on mercury contamination in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins from Charleston and Indian River Lagoon are intended to increase understanding of the potential adverse effects of mercury in marine mammals. For more information, contact



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