Scientists monitor the status and condition of marine life and habitats to detect trends within the sanctuaries. Most sanctuaries have monitoring programs tailored to the information needs of the sites. In addition, some monitoring activities apply to more than one sanctuary. Two such projects are the System-Wide Monitoring Program and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation Fish Survey Project.
System-Wide Monitoring Program
The National Marine Sanctuary Program is enhancing its approach to monitoring the nation's system of sanctuaries to better ensure the timely flow of data and information to the managers who are responsible for protecting resources in the ocean and coastal zone, and those who use, depend on, and study sanctuary ecosystems.
The System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWiM) enables staff at marine sanctuaries to develop effective ecosystem-based monitoring programs by providing a design process that can be applied at all sanctuaries in a consistent way at multiple spatial scales and to multiple resource types. It also provides a consistent strategy for reporting the status and trends of protected resources and the activities that affect them. SWiM also integrates information from partner monitoring efforts in order to enhance its utility, improve local efforts, apply it to broader issues and scales, and contribute to multi-site, regional and national observing, research, and monitoring activities.
SWiM allows for tailored monitoring at the local (sanctuary) level to track natural and human influences as they affect water, habitat, living resource and maritime archaeological resource quality. SWiM focuses on information critical to management while contributing to and benefiting from other local, regional, and national monitoring programs. In so doing, SWiM is a building block for the Nation's Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and contribute significantly to the goals established for the marine protected area network of the United States.
One of the first activities within SWiM was to establish a sanctuary observing network within the regional structure of IOOS along the west coast of the United States. Working with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), the National Marine Sanctuary Program established Sanctuary Ecosystem Assessment (SEA) stations along the west coast to measure near-shore physical transport mechanisms. The Sanctuary Program is working to deliver timely and quality-assured information as well as develop and upgrade observing technologies.
|Technicians from PISCO, a partner on the NMSP West Coast Observations project, adjust the placement of a sensor on the main mooring line during deployment at Southeastern Farallon Island. (Photo: Pederson/Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary)|
A second activity within SWiM is the development of Condition Reports for every sanctuary. These reports will be a summary of the pressures, current state, and responses being addressed or considered at each sanctuary. Included in each report will be a "State of the Sanctuary" section that will describe the current status of the site in detail by addressing a set of questions that were outlined in the Monitoring Framework for the National Marine Sanctuary System. These questions relate to water, habitat, living resource and maritime archaeological quality. Check the NMSP website regularly as the reports are expected to be published during the summer of 2006.
For more information on the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWiM) please read Monitoring Framework for the National Marine Sanctuary System.
Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN)
The Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) is a long-term program that takes an ecosystem approach to identify and understand changes to the Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, with the eventual goal of expanding throughout the National Marine Sanctuary Program. SIMoN enables resource managers and researchers to monitor Sanctuary resources effectively by integrating existing monitoring programs into a searchable database, and by funding new monitoring programs that fill in data gaps identified by the program. SIMoN serves to make this monitoring information available to managers, decision makers, the research community, and the general public. SIMoN is a center for initiating and integrating data collecting efforts and for disseminating information, including interactive maps, and an extensive searchable photo database.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation
The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) aims to educate, enlist and enable divers and non-divers alike to become active stewards in the conservation of coral reefs and other marine habitats. REEF achieves this goal primarily through its volunteer fish monitoring program, the REEF Fish Survey Project. Participants in the project not only learn about the environment they are diving in, but they also produce valuable information. Scientists, marine park staff, and the general public use the data that are collected by REEF volunteers.
The National Marine Sanctuary Program is no exception as it enjoys a cooperative partnership with REEF where sanctuary managers and staff are able to utilize REEF for a variety of applications. Volunteer divers have submitted just over 20,000 surveys from eight sanctuaries since efforts started in the Florida Keys sanctuary in 1993. Other sanctuary locations include Gray’s Reef, Flower Garden Banks, Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale, Olympic Coast and Monitor. In 2003, 528 volunteers submitted a total of 3,413 surveys.
In addition, the total number of surveys submitted from within the Hawaiian Islands sanctuary in 2003 almost doubled and effort at the California sites increased by about 30 percent. Also in 2003, REEF initiated what is hoped to be an annual Advanced Assessment project at the Olympic Coast sanctuary.