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Making Waves: Episode 56 (July 22, 2010)

... A new NOAA game for kids about loggerhead sea turtle conservation
... have your say about NOAA’s new strategic plan
... and the next round of existing Marine Protected Areas on the list to join the national system of MPAs is up for public comment

Those stories are coming up. It’s Thursday, July 22nd, and you’re listening to Making Waves from NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

(New NOAA Game)
The National Ocean Service and Fisheries Service launched a new online educational game last week. This is the second educational game in the the WaterLife series (the first game, called ‘Where Rivers Meet the Sea,’ came out last year). The new game is called “Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest,” and it encourages and explains loggerhead sea turtle conservation through a series of games and animations aimed at fourth through seventh grade students.
The new game is about NOAA’s educational strategy to engage students in challenges that maintain an interest in science and technology.

“Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest” takes place in a seaside town in the southeastern part of the country. It revolves around six stakeholders critical to the protection and recovery of the loggerhead sea turtle, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Players navigate a series of mini-games from a beach cleanup to clear the way for nesting turtles to a food chain version of Sudoku to improve the likelihood of survival of the loggerhead turtle. To win the game, young players must understand human actions affecting loggerheads and what people can do to improve the chance for survival of the species on land and in the ocean.

“Quest to Nest” was developed through a partnership with Montgomery College’s Computer Gaming and Simulation Program based in Rockville, Md.

Check it out online at

(NOAA Strategic Plan)
NOAA is seeking final public comments on a new plan that charts the future of the agency. You can download a copy of the draft strategic plan and submit comments online via NOAA's Next Generation Strategic Plan website. That’s at -- NGSP is short for Next Generation Strategic Plan -- don’t worry, we’ll have that link in our show notes.

The plan renews NOAA’s mission and vision of the future and lays the foundation for NOAA to play a leading role in responding to the nation's most urgent challenges ... and those challenges range from climate change, severe weather, and natural or human-induced disasters to declining biodiversity and threatened or degraded ocean and coastal resources.

NOAA conducted more than 20 regional stakeholder forums, a national forum in Washington, D.C., and hosted web-based surveys to develop the plan. Through these sessions, the greatest challenges facing the nation and the highest priority mission areas for NOAA were identified.

Final public comments on NOAA’s strategy including the organization’s mission statement, vision of the future, long-term goals, and five-year objectives will be accepted through Aug. 10. The final plan is expected to be released in early September.

(MPA Nominations)
Next up, we have another opportunity for you to express your thoughts and opinions.
The National Marine Protected Areas Center has received the third round of nominations for existing marine protected areas to join the national system of MPAs. Those nominations were rounded up from March through May 2010.

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. marine waters are protected in some way. If you have ever gone fishing in central California, diving in the Florida Keys, or boating in Thunder Bay in Lake Huron, chances are you’ve visited a marine protected areas.

In the U.S., there are over 1,600 MPAs spanning a range of habitats, including the open ocean, coastal areas, inter-tidal zones, estuaries, and the Great Lakes.

The thing is, there are different federal, state, tribal and local agencies managing these 1,600 marine protected areas all over the nation. As you might imagine, it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on at each of the protected areas, and it can be easy to miss opportunities to share lessons learned or coordinate planning and management of so many different areas.

That’s exactly what the the national system of MPAs is all about. While the marine protected areas that are part of the federal system are still managed independently, the national system ties them all together to help collectively enhance conservation of the nation’s natural and cultural marine heritage. 

National system sites have the opportunity to work with other MPAs in their region and nationally on issues of common conservation concern. Now, public participation is vital to the success of this effort, so that’s why the general public is invited to provide comments on all sites nominated to join the national system.

There are currently 254 members of the national system of MPAs.

And, pending a 30-day public review period, four more nominated sites are slated to join. You can take a look at the nominated sites online at Following review of public comments, NOAA will make a final decision about the nominations of these four sites this Fall.

Visit us online at And while you’re there, check out some of our new pages that explore different ocean service topics ranging from marine navigation, to contaminants in the environment, to Marine Protected Areas, to coral reefs. That’s just a small sample of what you’ll find there. Just click on the ‘Explore’ tab on our home page to start your own exploration. And let us know what you think.

And that’s all for this week.

If you have any questions about this week’s podcast, about the National Ocean Service, or about our ocean -- or if you have an ocean fact you’d like answered -- send us a note at

Now let’s listen to the ocean...

This is Making Waves from NOAA’s National Ocean Service.