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Monitoring and Interpreting Climate Change through Sanctuary Sentinel Sites
he National Marine Sanctuary System provides an ideal venue for studying our world's changing marine environment. Sanctuaries are "sentinel sites" where NOAA scientists and partners can coordinate and focus research on our ocean ecosystems over time. Through collaboration and monitoring in sanctuaries, we can better understand the ways that global climate change impacts our precious underwater resources and the communities that depend on them.

Staff of Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary developed community-based climate change adaptation strategies and identified education and outreach needs in American Samoa following a socioeconomic study of public perceptions of climate change.

Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary scientists initiated a regional monitoring program to improve our understanding of the central California marine ecosystem, providing the foundation for understanding changes in the ocean environment and a baseline for measuring climate change.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary staff completed energy, transportation and waste audits for the site, and are working to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, the site's historic buildings are being remodeled and a LEED Gold certification will be sought.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council finalized a comprehensive report on ocean acidification, calling out the importance of prioritizing research, monitoring, education and leadership on this issue.

Sanctuary scientists work to understand and predict 
natural and human-caused changes throughout the 
National Marine Sanctuary System. From environ- 
mental monitoring to development of partnerships 
that enhance the system's research capacity, science 
and exploration are essential to the effective manage- 
ment of our special underwater places.

Researchers Study Impacts of Underwater Noise on Whales

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary scientists have developed innova- tive "sound maps" that analyze the impact of underwater noise on marine life such as endangered right whales. The researchers combined three years of whale distribution, ship tracking, recorded sound and environmental data to create the maps, which can be used to study things like right whale communication in areas with intense shipping noise versus those without. Improved understanding of how underwater noise affects marine species will help marine resource managers better protect our sensitive ocean ecosystems. This collaborative research effort involving sanctuary staff, Cornell University, NOAA Fisheries Service and Marine Acoustic Inc. is funded by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program.

Deep-Diving Technology Leads to Species Discoveries

Research divers working off the NOAA ship Hi'ialakai in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument made several exciting discoveries marine debris as they tested advanced deep-diving technology in fall 2009. The scientists documented at least a dozen new fish in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, collected an undescribed species of butterflyfish, and documented previously unknown deepwater nursery habitats for reef fishes. Over the course of a month, the researchers conducted 111 dives to depths of 275 feet, demonstrating the safety and usefulness of the technology for future deep-sea scientific exploration. This technology will enhance our ability to learn more about the poorly understood environment deep below the ocean's surface.

Reports Provide Baseline of Sanctuary Site Resources

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries completed "condition reports" for five sites in the National Marine Sanctuary System in 2009. Condition reports provide a summary of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, the current condition and trends, and management responses. The reports include information on the status and trends of water quality, habitat, living and maritime archaeological resources, and the human activities that affect them. Last year, condition reports were released for Flower Garden Banks, Cordell Bank, Channel Islands and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. These documents will serve as a baseline for monitoring sanctuary resources and are a vital tool in effective sanctuary management. The reports are available online at http://sanctuaries.noaa. gov/science/condition/.

Sanctuaries Use Technology to Remove Marine Debris

marine debrisStetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is littered with trawl nets, boat anchors, scraps of metal and fishing line. Marine debris like this poses a serious threat to ecosystems throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System, but it is often located too deep to be reached by standard scuba diving operations. Flower Garden sanctuary staff partnered with expert technical divers, who are trained to descend deeper than standard scuba divers, to remove various debris from Stetson Bank during a five-day expedition funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Elsewhere, Monterey Bay and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries successfully teamed up in October 2009 to locate and remove derelict fishing gear from the seafloor using a remotely operated vehicle.

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