Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary: Proceedings of the 1998 Research Workshop, Seattle, Washington

C. Edward Bowlby1, Barbara A. Blackie1, Julia K. Parrish2
1NOAA, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
2University of Washington, Department of Zoology and School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary: Proceedings of the 1998 Research Workshop, Seattle, Washington (pdf, 1.7MB)
The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS or Sanctuary) planned and organized the 1998 Research Workshop as part of its mission to protect and improve understanding of its marine resources through research and education programs. The Sanctuary is also mandated to coordinate and facilitate information exchanges and sponsors periodic research workshops to that end.

The goals of the 1998 Research Workshop were as follows:

  1. Highlight and prioritize research needs for the Sanctuary relative to the development of a framework for a five-year research plan;

  2. Build on results from the Olympic Coast Marine Research Workshop of 1996;

  3. Present recent/ongoing research;

  4. Share multi-disciplinary information;

  5. Select priority sites for multi-disciplinary studies; and

  6. Promote student participation and research.
Pre-workshop information packets were sent to a targeted audience of marine scientists, resource managers, interested individuals, and students. This packet contained the major recommendations from the 1996 Research Workshop. It also contained a list of potential topics that would be open for discussion during the two-day workshop. The topics included:
  • Funding partnerships for long-term mooring(s) for temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, current velocity, chlorophyll a, turbidity;
  • Ways to promote student participation and research;
  • Ways OCNMS could support and/or leverage existing programs as well as new projects;
  • El Niño Southern Oscillation effects;
  • Harmful Algal Blooms effects;
  • Tenyo Maru restoration plans;
  • Marine biodiversity; and
  • Introduced species.
To promote a multi-disciplinary information exchange and to highlight general disciplinary areas, the Sanctuary invited a series of speakers to provide overviews on: 1) the Sanctuary program; 2) the bigger NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) picture; 3) Coastal oceanography; 4) Harmful algal blooms; 5) Trawl surveys and habitat types; 6) Geological surveys; 7) Intertidal ecology; 8) Sea otter and subtidal surveys; 9) Pinniped population trends; 10) Seabird colonies; and 11) At-sea distribution of seabirds.

The Sanctuary also solicited researchers to share information on their on-going investigations off the Washington coast. Twenty-two abstracts were submitted and are included with the proceedings, as part of the Sanctuary's mission for information exchange.

After plenary presentations, the 68 participants broke into concurrent focus group sessions that addressed the following disciplinary topics: 1) Nearshore Communities; 2) Fish and Shellfish Biology; 3) Seabirds and Marine Mammals; 4) Physical and Biological Oceanography; and 5) Cultural and Historical Resources. To assist in formulating recommendations and priorities for the Sanctuary's research program, facilitators led the groups through a discussion list. Representatives from each group reported back to the re-assembled plenary session on their major findings and recommended priorities.

Recommendations from the Workshop included several basic needs and identified several outstanding data gaps. The need to inventory living and cultural/historical resources, as well as following-up with long-term monitoring, was identified throughout. Participants also recommended that monitoring include distinctions between natural versus anthropogenic influences. High-resolution seafloor mapping, for both living and cultural/historical resources, was noted as a primary data gap.

Assessing linkages between offshore, nearshore, and watershed processes was highlighted, as well as the need for year-round information on currents and other physical parameters.

The need for centralized databases to be shared across disciplines was another common theme. Requests were also made for resource inventories to be placed in GIS for both researchers use and for public awareness.

Several groups expressed interest and concern with harmful algal blooms, from both an ecosystem level as well as a harvest-related concern.

Participants cautioned that more information was needed before the selection of which long-term monitoring sites or indicator species could be determined. The use of endangered/threatened species as criteria versus using trophic-based or habitat-based communities was discussed.

The Workshop concluded with a note of thanks to all the participants for their very constructive recommendations and comments.

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