Recent Submissions

  • Synopsis of researcher meeting -- Bottlenose Dolphin Health & Risk Assessment Project, February 22-24, 2005

    Fair, Patricia A.; Bossart, Gregory D. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceCharleston, SC, 2005-04)
    A meeting was convened on February 22-24, 2005 in Charleston, South Carolina to bring together researchers collaborating on the Bottlenose Dolphin Health and Risk Assessment (HERA) Project to review and discuss preliminary health-related findings from captured dolphins during 2003 and 2004 in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), FL and Charleston (CHS), SC. Over 30 researchers with diverse research expertise representing government, academic and marine institutions participated in the 2-1/2 day meeting.The Bottlenose Dolphin HERA Project is a comprehensive, integrated, multi-disciplinary research program designed to assess environmental and anthropogenic stressors, as well as the health and long-term viability of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Standardized and comprehensive protocols are being used to evaluate dolphin health in the coastal ecosystems in the IRL and CHS. The Bottlenose Dolphin Health and Risk Assessment (HERA) Project was initiated in 2003 by Dr. Patricia Fair at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service/Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research and Dr. Gregory Bossart at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution under NMFS Scientific Research Permit No. 998-1678-00 issued to Dr. Bossart. Towards this end, this study focuses on developing tools and techniques to better identify health threats to these dolphins, and to develop links to possible environmental stressors. Thus, the primary objective of the Dolphin HERAProject is to measure the overall health and as well as the potential health hazards for dolphin populations in the two sites by performing screening-level risk assessments using standardized methods. The screening-level assessment involves capture, sampling and release activities during which physical examinations are performed on dolphins and a suite of nonlethal morphologic and clinicopathologic parameters, to be used to develop indices of dolphin health, are collected. Thus far, standardized health assessments have been performed on 155 dolphins during capture-release studies conducted in Years 2003 and 2004 at the two sites. A major collaboration has been established involving numerous individuals and institutions, which provide the project with a broad assessment capability toward accomplishing the goals and objectives of this project.
  • Atlas of the shallow-water benthic habitats of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2005-01)
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS) initiated a coral reef research program in 1999 to map, assess, inventory, and monitor U.S. coral reef ecosystems (Monaco et al. 2001). These activities were implemented in response to requirements outlined in the Mapping Implementation Plan developed by the Mapping and Information Synthesis Working Group (MISWG) of the Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) (MISWG 1999). As part of the MISWG of the CRTF, NOS' Biogeography Branch has been charged with the development and implementation of a plan to produce comprehensive digital coral-reef ecosystem maps for all U.S. States, Territories, and Commonwealths within five to seven years. Joint activities between Federal agencies are particularly important to map, research, monitor, manage, and restore coral reef ecosystems. In response to the Executive Order 13089 and the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, NOS is conducting research to digitally map biotic resources and coordinate a long-term monitoring program that can detect and predict change in U.S. coral reefs, and their associated habitats and biological communities.Most U.S. coral reef resources have not been digitally mapped at a scale or resolution sufficient for assessment, monitoring, and/or research to support resource management. Thus, a large portion of NOS' coral reef research activities has focused on mapping of U.S. coral reef ecosystems. The map products will provide the fundamental spatial organizing framework to implement and integrate research programs and provide the capability to effectively communicate information and results to coral reef ecosystem managers. Although the NOS coral program is relatively young, it has had tremendous success in advancing towards the goal to protect, conserve, and enhance the health of U.S. coral reef ecosystems. One objective of the program was to create benthic habitat maps to support coral reef research to enable development of products that support management needs and questions. Therefore this product was developed in collaboration with many U.S. Pacific Territory partners. An initial step in producing benthic habitat maps was the development of a habitat classification scheme. The purpose of this document is to outline the benthic habitat classification scheme and protocols used to map American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.Thirty-two distinct benthic habitat types (i.e., four major and 14 detailed geomorphological structure classes; eight major and 18 detailed biological cover types) within eleven zones were mapped directly into a geographic information system (GIS) using visual interpretation of orthorectified IKONOS satellite imagery. Benthic features were mapped that covered an area of 263 square kilometers. In all, 281 square kilometers of unconsolidated sediment, 122 square kilometers of submerged vegetation, and 82.3 square kilometers of coral reef and colonized hardbottom were mapped.
  • Histological techniques for marine bivalve mollusks and crustaceans, 2nd edition

    Howard, Dorothy W.; Lewis, Earl J.; Keller, B. Jane; Smith, Cecelia S. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceOxford, MD, 2004-08)
    Investigators at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory (COL) diagnose and study crustaceans, mollusks, finfish, and a variety of other marine and estuarine invertebrates to assess animal health. This edition updates the Histological Techniques for Marine Bivalve Mollusks manual by Howard and Smith (1983) with additional chapters on molluscan and crustacean techniques. The new edition is intended to serve as a guide for histological processing of shellfish, principally bivalve mollusks and crustaceans. Basically, the techniques included are applicable for histopathological preparation of all marine animals, recognizing however that initial necropsy is unique to each species. Photographs and illustrations are provided for instruction on necropsy of different species to simplify the processing of tissues. Several of the procedures described are adaptations developed by the COL staff. They represent techniques based on principles establishedfor the histopathologic study of mammalian and other vertebrate tissues, but modified for marine and aquatic invertebrates. Although the manual attempts to provide adequate information on techniques, it is also intended to serve as a useful reference source to those interested in the pathology of marine animals. General references and recommended reading listed in the back of the manual will provide histological information on species not addressed in the text.
  • Boundary options for a research area within Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

    Kendall, Matthew S.; Eschelbach, Katherine A. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2006-05)
    Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) is exploring the concept of a research area (RA) within its boundaries. The idea of a research area was first suggested in public scoping meetings held prior to the review of the Gray’s Reef Management Plan. An RA is a region specifically designed for conducting controlled scientific studies in the absence of confounding factors. As a result, a multidisciplinary group gathered by GRNMS was convened to consider the issue. This Research Area Working Group (RAWG) requested that a suite of analyses be conducted to evaluate the issue quantitatively. To meet this need, a novel selection procedure and geographic information system (GIS) was created to find the optimal location for an RA while balancing the needs of research and existing users. This report and its associated GIS files describe the results of the requested analyses and enable further quantitative investigation of this topic by the RAWG and GRNMS.
  • Histological techniques for marine bivalve molluscs: update

    Kim, Y.; Ashton-Alcox, K.A.; Powell, E.N. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2006-05)
    This chapter describes the procedures for determining the reproductive stage of oysters, mytilid mussels, and dreissenid mussels collected for NOAA’s National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Project. Analyses are conducted on paraffin-embedded tissues sectioned at a 5-μm thickness and stained using a pentachrome staining procedure. Each slide is examined microscopically to determine the animal’s sex and stage of gonadal development. A semi-quantitative ranking is assigned.
  • 1987 ecosystem view of management research in the Myakka River: review of Phase I and Phase II reports

    Browder, Joan A. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceMiami, FL, 2006-10)
    This memorandum has four parts. The first is a review and partial synthesis of Phase 1 and Phase 2 Reports by Dr. Ernest Estevez of the Mote Marine Laboratory to the Board of County Commissioners of Sarasota County, Florida. The review and synthesis emphasizes identification of the most important aspects of the structure of the Myakka system in terms of forcing functions, biological components, and major energy flows. In this context, the dominant primary producers, dominant fish species and food habits, and major environmental variables were of articular interest. A major focus of the review and synthesis was on the river zonations provided in the report and based on salinity and various biological indicators. The second part of this memorandum is a review of a draft report by Mote Marine Laboratory on evaluation of potential water quality impacts on the Myakka River from proposed activities in the watershed. This Memorandum's third part is a review of resource-management related ecosystem models in the context of possible future models of the Myakka River Ecosystem. The final part of this memorandum is proposed future work as an extension of the initial reports.
  • Synthesis of education programs, scholarship, loan, and internship opportunities available to assist in increasing the numbers of minorities working in fisheries and marine sciences

    Thayer, Gordon W.; Cullenberg, Paula; Garza, Dolly (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2007-03)
    This report is divided into six sections, the first of which provides information on documents that emphasize the need for education/training of minorities in the sciences including marine science. Also provided is material students can use to find out about careers in the sciences, some universities that offer marine science education, and curricula that should be considered. The second section deals with existing programs designed to train pre-college students and prepare them either for further education or potential employment in the sciences. The next four sections deal with existing programs in the marine sciences for college-level students, scholarships and scholarship programs, examples of loan programs, and internships and internship programs.
  • Distribution of persistent organic contaminants in canyons and on the continental shelf off central California

    Hartwell, S. Ian (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2007-09)
    The National Status and Trends (NS&T) Program has conducted studies to determine the spatial extent and severity of chemical contamination and associated adverse biological effects in coastal bays and estuaries of the United States since 1991. Sediment contamination in U.S. coastal areas is a major environmental issue because of its potential toxic effects on biological resources and often, indirectly, on human health. Thus, characterizing and delineating areas of sediment contamination and toxicity and demonstrating their effect(s) on benthic living resources are therefore important goals of coastal resource management at NOAA.The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), University of California Moss Landing Marine Lab (MLML), and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), conducted ecosystem monitoring and characterization studies within and between marine sanctuaries along the California coast in 2002 and 2004 on the NOAA RV McArthur. One of the objectives was to perform a systematic assessment of the chemical and physical habitats and associated biological communities in soft bottom habitats on the continental shelf and slope in the central California region. This report addresses the magnitude and extent of chemical contamination, and contaminant transport patterns in the region. Ongoing studies of the benthic community are in progress and will be reported in an integrated assessment of habitat quality and the parameters that govern natural resource distributions on the continental margin and in canyons in the region.
  • Mesophotic coral ecosystems research strategy: international workshop to prioritize research and management needs for mesophotic coral ecosystems, Jupiter, Florida, 12-15 July 2008

    Puglise, K.A.; Hinderstein, L.M.; Marr, J.C.A.; Dowgiallo, M.J.; Martinez, F.A. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2009-11)
    On July 12-15, 2008, researchers and resource managers met in Jupiter, Florida to discuss and review the state of knowledge regarding mesophotic coral ecosystems, develop a working definition for these ecosystems, identify critical resource management information needs, and develop a Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems Research Strategy to assist the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies and institutions in their research prioritization and strategic planning for mesophotic coral ecosystems. Workshop participants included representatives from international, Federal, and state governments; academia; and nongovernmental organizations. The Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems Workshop was hosted by the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) and organized by NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The workshop goals, objectives, schedule, and products were governed by a Steering Committee consisting of members from NOAA (National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research’s NOAA Undersea Research Program, and the National Marine Fisheries Service), USGS, PIMS, the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, and the Bishop Museum.
  • Wave forecasts associated with hurricane landfalls in the vicinity of Cape Lookout, North Carolina

    Fonseca, Mark S.; Malhotra, Amit (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceBeaufort, NC, 2010)
    Hurricanes can cause extensive damage to the coastline and coastal communities due to wind-generated waves and storm surge. While extensive modeling efforts have been conducted regarding storm surge, there is far less information about the effects of waves on these communities and ecosystems as storms make landfall. This report describes a preliminary use of NCCOS’ WEMo (Wave Exposure Model; Fonseca and Malhotra 2010) to compute the wind wave exposure within an area of approximately 25 miles radius from Beaufort, North Carolina for estuarine waters encompassing Bogue Sound, Back Sound and Core Sound during three hurricane landfall scenarios. The wind wave heights and energy of a site was a computation based on wind speed, direction, fetch and local bathymetry. We used our local area (Beaufort, North Carolina) as a test bed for this product because it is frequently impacted by hurricanes and we had confidence in the bathymetry data. Our test bed conditions were based on two recent Hurricanes that strongly affected this area. First, we used hurricane Isabel which made landfall near Beaufort in September 2003. Two hurricane simulations were run first by passing hurricane Isabel along its actual path (east of Beaufort) and second by passing the same storm to the west of Beaufort to show the potential effect of the reversed wind field. We then simulated impacts by a hurricane (Ophelia) with a different landfall track, which occurred in September of 2005. The simulations produced a geographic description of wave heights revealing the changing wind and wave exposure of the region as a consequence of landfall location and storm intensity. This highly conservative simulation (water levels were that of low tide) revealed that many inhabited and developed shorelines would receive wind waves for prolonged periods of time at heights far above that found during even the top few percent of non-hurricane events. The simulations also provided a sense for how rapidly conditions could transition from moderate to highly threatening; wave heights were shown to far exceed normal conditions often long before the main body of the storm arrived and importantly, at many locations that could impede and endanger late-fleeing vessels seeking safe harbor. When joined with other factors, such as storm surge and event duration, we anticipate that the WEMo forecasting tool will have significant use by local emergency agencies and the public to anticipate the relative exposure of their property arising as a function of storm location and may also be used by resource managers to examine the effects of storms in a quantitative fashion on local living marine resources.
  • A geo-referenced benthic habitat survey in support of natural resource management: Port Graham Bay, Alaska

    Burke, John Selden; Malhotra, Amit (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceBeaufort, NC, 2010-08)
    The impact of recent changes in climate on the arctic environment and its ecosystems appear to have a dramatic affect on natural populations (National Research Council Committee on the Bering Sea Ecosystem 1996) and pose a serious threat to the continuity of indigenous arctic cultures that are dependent on natural resources for subsistence (Peterson D. L., Johnson 1995). In the northeast Pacific, winter storms have intensified and shifted southward causing fundamental changes in sea surface temperature patterns (Beamish 1993, Francis et al. 1998). Since the mid 1970’s surface waters of the central basin of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) have warmed and freshened with a consequent increase in stratification and reduced winter entrainment of nutrients (Stabeno et al. 2004). Such physical changes in the structure of the ocean can rapidly affect lower trophic levels and indirectly affect fish and marine mammal populations through impacts on their prey (Benson and Trites 2002). Alaskan natives expect continued and perhaps accelerating changes in resources due to global warming (DFO 2006).and want to develop strategies to cope with their changing environment.
  • Major and trace element analytical methods of the National Status and Trends Program: 2000-2006

    Kimbrough, K.L.; Lauenstein, G.G. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2007-03)
    This document contains analytical methods that detail the procedures for determining major and trace element concentrations in bivalve tissue and sediment samples collected as part of the National Status and Trends Program (NS&T) for the years 2000-2006. Previously published NOAA Technical Memoranda NOS ORCA 71 and 130 (Lauenstein and Cantillo, 1993; Lauenstein and Cantillo, 1998) detail trace element analyses for the years 1984-1992 and 1993-1996, respectively, and include ancillary, histopathology, and contaminant (organic and trace element) analytical methods.The methods presented in this document for trace element analysis were utilized by the NS&T Mussel Watch and Bioeffects Projects. The Mussel Watch Project has been monitoring contaminants in bivalves and sediment for over 20 years, and is the longest active contaminant monitoring program operating in U.S. costal waters. Approximately 280 Mussel Watch sites are monitored on biennial and decadal timescales using bivalve tissue and sediment, respectively. The Bioeffects Project applies the sediment quality approach, which uses sediment contamination measurements, toxicity tests and benthic macroinfauna quantification to characterize pollution in selected estuaries and coastal embayments. Contaminant assessment is a core function of both projects.Although only one contract laboratory was used by the NS&T Program during the specified time period, several analytical methods and instruments were employed. The specific analytical method, including instrumentation and detection limit, is noted for each measurement taken and can be found at The major and trace elements measured by the NS&T Program include: Al, Si, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Sn, Sb, Ag, Cd, Hg, Tl and Pb.
  • Atlas of the shallow-water benthic habitats of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands

    Edwards, K.F.; Kendall, M.S.; Buja, K.R. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2012)
    Digital maps of the shallow (<~30m deep) coral reef ecosystems of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, were created through visual interpretation of remote sensing imagery acquired between 2004 and 2006. Reef ecosystem features were digitized directly into a Geographic Information System. Benthic features were categorized according to a classification scheme with attributes including zone (location such as lagoon or forereef, etc.), structure (bottom type such as sand or patch reef, etc.) and percent hard bottom. This atlas consists of 27 detailed maps displaying reef zone and structure of coral ecosystems around Majuro. Adjacent maps in the atlas overlap slightly to ensure complete coverage. Maps and associated products can be used to support science and management activities on Majuro reef ecosystems including inventory, monitoring, conservation, and sustainable development applications. Maps are not to be used for navigation.
  • Boat wakes and their influence on erosion in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, North Carolina

    Fonseca, Mark S.; Malhotra, Amit (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceBeaufort, NC, 2012-03)
    Boat wakes in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) of North Carolina occur in environments not normally subjected to (wind) wave events, making sections of AIWW potentially vulnerable to extreme wave events generated by boat wakes. The Snow’s Cut area that links the Cape Fear River to the AIWW is an area identified by the Wilmington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as having significant erosion issues; it was hypothesized that this erosion could be being exacerbated by boat wakes. We compared the boat wakes for six combinations of boat length and speed with the top 5% wind events. We also computed the benthic shear stress associated with boat wakes and whether sediment would move (erode) under those conditions. Finally, we compared the transit time across Snow’s Cut for each speed. We focused on two size classes of V-hulled boats (7 and 16m) representative of AIWW traffic and on three boat speeds (3, 10 and 20 knots). We found that at 10 knots when the boat was plowing and not yet on plane, boat wake height and potential erosion was greatest. Wakes and forecast erosion were slightly mitigated at higher, planing speeds. Vessel speeds greater than 7 knots were forecast to generate wakes and sediment movement zones greatly exceeding that arising from natural wind events. We posit that vessels larger than 7m in length transiting Snow’s Cut (and likely many other fetch-restricted areas of the AIWW) frequently generate wakes of heights that result in sediment movement over large extents of the AIWW nearshore area, substantially in exceedance of natural wind wave events. If the speed, particularly of large V-hulled vessels (here represented by the 16m length class), were reduced to pre-plowing levels (~ 7 knots down from 20), transit times for Snow’s Cut would be increased approximately 10 minutes but based on our simulations would likely substantially reduce the creation of erosion-generating boat wakes. It is likely that boat wakes significantly exceed wind wave background for much of the AIWW and similar analyses may be useful in identifying management options.
  • Characterizing Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico: a watershed modeling analysis and monitoring plan

    Zitello, Adam G.; Whitall, David R.; Dieppa, Angel; Christensen, John D.; Monaco, Mark E.; Rohmann, Steven O. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2008-05)
    Land-based pollution is commonly identified as a major contributor to the observed deterioration of shallow-water coral reef ecosystem health. Human activity on the coastal landscape often induces nutrient enrichment, hypoxia, harmful algal blooms, toxic contamination and other stressors that have degraded the quality of coastal waters. Coral reef ecosystems throughout Puerto Rico, including Jobos Bay, are under threat from coastal land uses such as urban development, industry and agriculture. The objectives of this report were two-fold: 1. To identify potentially harmful land use activities to the benthic habitats of Jobos Bay, and 2. To describe a monitoring plan for JobosBay designed to assess the impacts of conservation practices implemented on the watershed.This characterization is a component of the partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established by the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) in Jobos Bay. CEAP is a multi-agency effort to quantify the environmental benefits of conservation practices used by private landowners participating in USDA programs. The Jobos Bay watershed, located in southeastern Puerto Rico, was selected as the first tropical CEAP Special Emphasis Watershed (SEW). Both USDA and NOAA use their respective expertise in terrestrial and marine environments to model and monitor Jobos Bay resources.This report documents NOAA activities conducted in the first year of the three-year CEAP effort in Jobos Bay. Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of the project and background information on Jobos Bay and its watershed. Chapter 2 implements NOAA’s Summit to Sea approach to summarize the existing resource conditions on the watershed and in the estuary. Summit to Sea uses a GIS-based procedure that links patterns of land use in coastal watersheds to sediment and pollutant loading predictions at the interface between terrestrial and marineenvironments. The outcome of Summit to Sea analysis is an inventory of coastal land use and predicted pollution threats, consisting of spatial data and descriptive statistics, which allows for better management of coral reef ecosystems. Chapters 3 and 4 describe the monitoring plan to assess the ecological response to conservationpractices established by USDA on the watershed.Jobos Bay is the second largest estuary in Puerto Rico, but has more than three times the shoreline of any other estuarine area on the island. It is a natural harbor protected from offshore wind and waves by a series of mangrove islands and the Punta Pozuelo peninsula. The Jobos Bay marine ecosystem includes 48 km² of mangrove, seagrass, coral reef and other habitat types that span both intertidal and subtidal areas. Mapping of Jobos Bay revealed 10 different benthic habitats of varying prevalence, and a large area of unknown bottom type covering 38% of the entire bay. Of the known benthic habitats, submerged aquatic vegetation, primarily seagrass, is the most common bottom type, covering slightly less than 30% of the bay. Mangroves are the dominant shoreline feature, while coral reefs comprise only 4% of the total benthic habitat. However, coral reefs are some of the most productive habitats found in Jobos Bay, and provide important habitat and nursery grounds for fish and invertebrates of commercial and recreational value.
  • Historical nitrogen and phosphorus loadings to the northern Gulf of Mexico

    Whitall, David (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2008-11)
    Primary productivity in many coastal systems is nitrogen (N) limited; although, phytoplankton productivity may be limited by phosphorus (P) seasonally or in portions of an estuary. Increases in loading of limiting nutrients to coastal ecosystems may lead to eutrophication (Nixon 1996). Anthropogenically enhanced eutrophication includes symptoms such as loss of seagrass beds, changes in algal community composition, increased algal (phytoplankton) blooms (Richardson et al. 2001), hypoxic or anoxic events, and fish kills (Bricker et al. 2003).
  • Temporal trends in reef fish assemblages inside Virgin Islands National Park and around St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, 1988-2006

    Friedlander, Alan; Beets, Jim (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2008-05)
    This report is a result of long-term fish monitoring studies supported by the National Park Service (NPS) at the Virgin Islands National Park since 1988 and is now a joint NPS and NOAA collaboration. Reef fish monitoring data collected from 1988 to 2006 within Virgin Islands National Park (VINP) and adjacent reefs around St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) were analyzed to provide information on the status of reef fishes during the monitoring period. Monitoring projects were initiated by the National Park Service (NPS) in the 1980s to provide useful data for evaluation of resources and for development of a long-term monitoring program.Monthly monitoring was conducted at two reef sites (Yawzi Point and Cocoloba Cay) starting in November 1988 for 2.5 years to document the monthly/seasonal variability in reef fish assemblages. Hurricane Hugo (a powerful Category 4 storm) struck the USVI in September 1989 resulting in considerable damage to the reefs around St. John. Abundance of fishes was lower at both sites following the storm, however, a greater effect was observed at Yawzi Point, which experienced a more direct impact from the hurricane. The storm affected species differently, with some showing only small, short-term declines in abundance, and others, such as the numerically abundant blue chromis (Chromis cyanea), a planktivorous damselfish, exhibiting a larger and longer recovery period.This report provides: 1) an evaluation of sampling methods, sample size, and methods used during the sampling period, 2) an evaluation of the spatial and temporal variability in reef fish assemblages at selected reef sites inside and outside of VINP, and 3) an evaluation of trends over 17 years of monitoring at the four reference sites. Comparisons of methods were conducted to standardize assessments among years. Several methods were used to evaluate sample size requirements for reef fish monitoring and the results provided a statistically robust justification for sample allocation.
  • The state of coral reef ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008

    Waddell , J.E.; Clarke, A.M. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2008-04)
    In the past decade, increased awareness regarding the declining condition of U.S. coral reefs has prompted various actions by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Presidential Executive Order 13089 created the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) in 1998 to coordinate federal and state/territorial activities (Clinton, 1998), and the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 provided Congressional funding for activities to conserve these important ecosystems, including mapping, monitoring and assessment projects carried out through the support of NOAA’s CRCP. Numerous collaborations forged among federal agencies and state, local, non-governmental, academic and private partners now support a variety of monitoring activities. This report shares the results of many of these monitoring activities, relying heavily on quantitative, spatially-explicit data that has been collected in the recent past and comparisons with historical data where possible. The success of this effort can be attributed to the dedication of over 270 report contributors who comprised the expert writing teams in the jurisdictions and contributed to the National Level Activities and National Summary chapters. The scope and content of this report are the result of their dedication to this considerable collaborative effort.Ultimately, the goal of this report is to answer the difficult but vital question: what is the condition of U.S. coral reef ecosystems? The report attempts to base a response on the best available science emerging from coral reef ecosystem monitoring programs in 15 jurisdictions across the country. However, few monitoring programs have been in place for longer than a decade, and many have been initiated only within the past two to five years. A few jurisdictions are just beginning to implement monitoring programs and face challenges stemming from a lack of basic habitat maps and other ecosystem data in addition to adequate training, capacity building, and technical support. There is also a general paucity of historical data describing the condition of ecosystem resources before major human impacts occurred, which limits any attempt to present the current conditions within an historical context and contributes to the phenomenon of shifting baselines (Jackson, 1997; Jackson et al., 2001; Pandolfi et al., 2005).
  • Field manual for investigating coral disease outbreaks

    Woodley, C.M.; Bruckner, A.W.; McLenon, A.L.; Higgins, J.L.; Galloway, S.B.; Nicholson, J.H. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2008-07)
    Coral reefs throughout their circumtropical range are declining at an accelerating rate. Recent predictions indicate that 20% of the world’s reefs have been degraded, another 24% are under imminent risk of collapse, and if current estimates hold, by 2030, 26% of the world’s reefs will be lost (Wilkinson 2004). Recent changes to these ecosystems have included losses of apex predators, reductions of important herbivorous fishes and invertebrates, and precipitous declines in living coral cover, with many reefs now dominated by macroalgae. Causes have been described in broad sweeping terms: global climate change, over-fishing and destructive fishing, land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation, hurricanes, mass bleaching events and disease. Recognition that corals can succumb to disease was first reported in the early 1970’s. Then it was a unique observation, with relatively few isolated reports until the mid 1990’s. Today disease has spread to over 150 species of coral, reported from 65 countries throughout all of the world’s tropical oceans (WCMC Global Coral Disease Database). While disease continues to increase in frequency and distribution throughout the world, definitive causes of coral diseases have remained elusive for the most part, with reef managers not sufficiently armed to combat it.
  • An assessment of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in sediments and bivalves of the U.S. coastal zone

    Kimbrough, K.L.; Johnson, W.E.; Lauenstein, G.G.; Christensen, J.D.; Apeti, D.A. (NOAA/National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceSilver Spring, MD, 2009)
    NOAA’s Mussel Watch Program was designed to monitor the status and trends of chemical contamination of U.S. coastal waters, including the Great Lakes. The Program began in 1986 and is one of the longest running, continuous coastal monitoring programs that is national in scope. NOAA established Mussel Watch in response to a legislative mandate under Section 202 of Title II of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) (33 USC 1442). In addition to monitoring contaminants throughout the Nation’s coastal shores, Mussel Watch stores samples in a specimen bank so that trends can be determined retrospectively for new and emerging contaminants of concern.In recent years, flame retardant chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have generated international concern over their widespread distribution in the environment, their potential to bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife, and concern for suspected adverse human health effects. The Mussel Watch Program, with additional funding provided by NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative, conducted a study of PBDEs in bivalve tissues and sediments.This report, which represents the first national assessment of PBDEs in the U.S. coastal zone, shows that they are widely distributed. PBDE concentrations in both sediment and bivalve tissue correlate with human population density along the U.S. coastline. The national and watershed perspectives given in this report are intended to support research, local monitoring, resource management, and policy decisions concerning these contaminants.

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