What is marine telemetry?

This item was filled under Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life, Ocean Science


Marine telemetry interprets into data the movements and behavior of animals as they move through oceans, coastal rivers, estuaries, and the Great Lakes. Telemetry devices, called tags, are affixed to a wide range of marine species, from tiny salmon smolts to giant 150-ton whales. Tags are attached to the outside of an animal with clips, straps, or glue, and are sometimes surgically inserted in an animal's body.

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Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail

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The Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail is an unbroken marsh and river trail that meanders for hundreds of miles down America's picturesque Southeast coast, passing through several National Estuarine Research Reserves along the way. Maps and guides are available for the more than 800-mile trail that extends from Virginia through the Carolinas and down into Georgia.

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Get to Know Your National Marine Sanctuaries

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National marine sanctuaries are special areas that protect important marine ecosystems around the nation. Some sanctuaries are breeding and feeding grounds for endangered whales, others contain thriving coral reefs or kelp forests, and many are home to historic shipwrecks and other archaeological treasures. NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries manages a national network of such places, encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of U.S. ocean and Great Lakes waters. The goal of the sanctuary system is to protect important natural and cultural places, while still allowing people to enjoy and use the ocean. In total, NOAA manages thirteen national marine sanctuaries and co-manages two marine national monuments.

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What are the doldrums?



Known to sailors around the world as the doldrums, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, (ITCZ, pronounced and sometimes referred to as the “itch”), is a belt around the Earth extending approximately five degrees north and south of the equator. Here, the prevailing trade winds of the northern hemisphere blow to the southwest and collide with the southern hemisphere’s driving northeast trade winds.

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Meet Vernon Smith, national media coordinator for NOAA’s national marine sanctuaries.

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As the national media coordinator for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, my job is to increase visibility, public awareness, and support for national marine sanctuaries through outreach to print, broadcast, social media, and special events. I work with our leadership team, along with our headquarters and field site staffs, to develop and implement strategies and materials to engage our partners, stakeholders, and the public.

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How the Great Lakes Observing System Supports Regional Health, Safety, Economy

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The Great Lakes are a vital shipping channel for the U.S., annually carrying billions of dollars of cargo to and from the Atlantic. They also contain 20 percent of the world's freshwater, have 10,000 miles of coast, and—much like the ocean—the waters of the Great Lakes heavily influence the climate in the region. Knowing what's happening and forecasting what's to come in Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario keep us safer, healthier, and economically sound.

In June 2016, NOAA certified the Great Lakes Observing System as a Regional Information Coordinating Entity—only the second organization to achieve this. The certification signifies a high quality of observing data and operational practices. In simple terms, it means that NOAA and IOOS stand behind GLOS's observing data, and that all users can rely on GLOS for data that meet the reliable, compatible standards being implemented across the IOOS network.

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What are beach advisories and beach closures?

This item was filled under Basics, Economy, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Places


A beach advisory leaves it up to users as to whether they wish to risk going into the water. In the case of a beach closure, the state and/or local government decides that water conditions are unsafe for swimmers and other users.

How can beach-goers avoid the disappointment of arriving at their summer vacation destination only to find that authorities advise them not to swim there or that the beaches are closed altogether?

Unfortunately, there is no central database that provides information on beach closures and advisories in real time. The best way to find information on the current water quality of a particular beach is to plan ahead.

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What are microplastics?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Life


Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.”

As an emerging field of study, not a lot is known about microplastics and their impacts yet. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is leading efforts within NOAA to research this topic. Standardized field methods for collecting sediment, sand, and surface-water microplastic samples have been developed and continue to undergo testing. Eventually, field and laboratory protocols will allow for global comparisons of the amount of microplastics released into the environment, which is the first step in determining the final distribution, impacts, and fate of this debris.

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How does land-based pollution threaten coral reefs?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Life


Impacts from land-based sources of pollution—including coastal development, deforestation, agricultural runoff, and oil and chemical spills—can impede coral growth and reproduction, disrupt overall ecological function, and cause disease and mortality in sensitive species. It is now well accepted that many serious coral reef ecosystem stressors originate from land-based sources, most notably toxicants, sediments, and nutrients.

Within the U.S., there are numerous locations where coral reef ecosystems are highly impacted by watershed alteration, runoff, and coastal development. On U.S. islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, significant changes in the drainage basins due to agriculture, deforestation, grazing of feral animals, fires, road building, and urbanization have increased the volume of land-based pollution released to adjacent coral reef ecosystems.

Many of these issues are made worse because of the geographic and climatic characteristics found in tropical island areas. Together they create unique management challenges.

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Can a coral reef recover from bleaching and other stressful events?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Life


Climate change and ocean acidification can result in mass coral bleaching events, increased susceptibility to disease, slower growth and reproductive rates, and degraded reef structure.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to a changing climate. In the long term, coral reefs around the world will benefit the most from the reduction of greenhouse gases. In the short term, we can improve coral reef resilience by addressing local stressors, like runoff from land-based sources of pollution and overharvesting of fish.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is helping local managers and communities do just that. The idea is simple. We know climate change is the single greatest global threat to coral reefs. Promoting reef resilience is a local solution. A resilient coral reef is one that can either resist a large-scale stressful event or recover from it. For this to happen, local threats must be kept to a minimum to reduce stress and improve overall reef condition. Scientists are also honing ways to evaluate how resilient a coral reef ecosystem is so that managers can take targeted actions that have the greatest impact.

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