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National Marine Sanctuary News
Winter 2005/2006

Researchers Explore Undersea Mountain

Map of sanctuary boundary
(Map courtesy MBARI)
NOAA, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and Moss Landing Marine Lab scientists conducted a research expedition Jan. 26-Feb. 24, 2006, to explore Davidson Seamount, a huge undersea mountain that harbors a variety of spectacular marine life, including large, ancient and fragile coral gardens.

Davidson Seamount is located 75 miles southwest of Monterey, Calif., and is one of the largest known seamounts in the United States. An initial survey of the geology and biology of the Davidson Seamount was made by NOAA, MBARI and other partners in 2002. Discoveries during that cruise prompted members of the public to propose that Davidson Seamount be protected as part of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  To learn more about the expedition, visit

Grant Opportunity for Santa Barbara Area Educators

California Congresswoman Lois Capps and staff from Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary announced a new education grant opportunity in January 2006. NOAA’s Bay Watershed Education and Training, or B-WET, program will offer $350,000 for K-12 education efforts that help students and teachers in Santa Barbara and Ventura, Calif., better understand the coastal environment and the connection between land and sea.

B-WET is the first federally supported grant program to focus solely on Santa Barbara Channel watersheds. B-WET programs are also offered in the Chesapeake Bay area, Monterey and San Francisco and the Hawaiian Islands. For more information about the B-WET grant opportunity and deadlines, please contact


New Marine Conservation Series Report Available

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program is pleased to announce the release of a new Marine Conservation Series report, Benthic Habitat Mapping in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The report focuses on a 2002 survey of the northern portion of the sanctuary during which researchers used imaging equipment to produce highly detailed maps of the seafloor. Click here for the report.


Hundreds Help Count Whales in Hawai'i

Whale watching
Sanctuary Advisory Council member Bill Friedl watches for whale alongside HIHWNMS staff members Christine Brammer (left) and Breena Martin during the January 2006 Sanctuary Ocean Count. (Photo: Kevin Brammer)
More than 650 shore-based volunteers counted and documented the surface behaviors of endangered humpback whales off O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, the Big Island and Kaho‘olawe in January 2006 during the annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. The collected data will be used by researchers to monitor the status of the whales that migrate in the winter to Hawaiian waters to breed, calve and nurse.

“The Ocean Count is a unique opportunity for the public to learn about Hawai`i’s humpbacks while participating in a monitoring effort.  It’s wonderful to see that so many people respond to our call for volunteers,” said Christine Brammer, Sanctuary Ocean Count coordinator. Final results from the Ocean Count will be available at in the fall of 2006.

Spotlight On: Ocean Careers

For centuries, the ocean has drawn people to its domain. From Phoenician sailors to modern-day commercial fishermen to biologists studying tiny limpets in tide pools, people have made a living on or near the sea. [Full story]

Popular Gulf of Mexico Dive Site Takes Hurricane Hit

whales breaching
Bleached coral.
When Hurricane Rita plowed through the Gulf of Mexico in late September, scientists became worried about potential damage to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, a popular dive destination and biological hot spot roughly 100 miles off the coast of Texas and Louisiana. With wind speeds of 120 mph, it was estimated that Rita generated waves over the banks of at least 30 feet.

Sanctuary biologists with NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, which manages the sanctuary, waited anxiously for several weeks for seas to calm so they could investigate the damage. [Full story]

Maritime Center Opens in Lake Huron Community

On a brutal November morning in 1913, the steel-hulled ship Isaac M. Scott, built in 1909, sank in Lake Huron. All 28 passengers on board perished. The ship was one of eleven Great Lakes vessels lost during the great storm of 1913, considered one of the most devastating storms of the 20th century to pound the Great Lakes.

Resting in what has become known as shipwreck alley, the Isaac M. Scott is just one of more than 150 shipwrecks found, with others still to be located, in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

To give visitors to the area a greater sense of time and place, and appreciate the number of shipwrecks in Thunder Bay, the city of Alpena opened its new Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center on Sept 17. [Full story]

New Species of Coral Discovered in Sanctuary

whales breaching
Christmas Tree Coral (Antipathes dendrochristos). Photo: Mark Amend
NOAA and University of California Santa Barbara researchers have discovered a new species of black coral off southern California, including in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The discovery came during dives in the Delta submersible. The new species, found at depths of approximately 300 to 725 feet, was reported in the online scientific journal Zootaxa. UCSB researcher Milton Love named the new species “Christmas tree coral” (dendrochristos in Greek), because it grows to a height greater than two meters and resembles pink, white and red-flocked Christmas trees. For more information, click here.

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