Ocean Research Receives Funding From NOAA

Ocean Research: Off the coast of the Pacific, Dungeness crabs are dying due to dangerously low oxygen levels, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has allocated $4.2 million over the next four years to study these shifting maritime conditions.

Ocean Research Receives Funding From NOAA

The agency announced the award of $967,505 to Oregon State University on November 2. This is the first installment of a four-year, cross-state collaboration project that will span the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

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Northern California Current Ecosystem is experiencing unprecedented environmental stress due to ocean acidification, hypoxia, rising temperatures, and destructive algal blooms, according to NOAA.

“Hypoxia has resulted in widespread mortality of crabs in commercial pots,” says the Fish and Wildlife Service. “HAB episodes have led to considerable fishing curtailment including season-scale bans.”

According to NOAA, the tourism industry lost $40 million and the Dungeness crab fishery lost $97.5 million due to the harmful algal bloom off the West Coast in 2015.

Ocean Research Receives Funding From Noaa
Ocean Research Receives Funding From Noaa

The Associated Press reported last month that Alaska shut down its red and snow crab harvests owing to dwindling numbers.

By projecting future ocean conditions and the responses of marine species to the numerous stressors on their habitat, the program aims to aid preparation for the impacts of climate change.

As part of the study, researchers from several institutions will work together to analyze previously collected data, update oceanographic models, and examine Dungeness crab and krill in controlled laboratory settings.

Kimberly Puglise, a spokeswoman for NOAA, said that Oregon State will allocate the monies among more than 18 scientists working with 9 other institutions.

Participating institutions include Oregon State University, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the University of Washington, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, the University of Connecticut, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, all of which are part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Jenny Waddell, a research ecologist at NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary based in Port Angeles, remarked, “It truly is a wonderful chance to integrate this data to understand better the geographical determinants.”

According to Waddell, NOAA has been in charge of a network of oceanographic moorings off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula for more than 20 years. These moorings may be found in the waters between Grays Harbor County and the United States and the Canadian maritime border north of Cape Flattery.

Due to the moorings’ ability to collect data from a wide range of depths, scientists now have a clearer picture of how climate change is influencing a wide range of ocean ecosystems.

According to Waddell, data such as this will be combined with data from other universities to assist in design studies to be conducted in a lab at Oregon State.

“It’s extremely intriguing to look at the spatial patterns of how these marine stressors are playing out in the ocean right now.”

“We are incorporating the findings from the data synthesis into our research and experimental design.”

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Waddell believes all this data will help them come up with a management plan to safeguard fish stocks for the future.

The research scope includes all of Northern California as well as the Olympic Peninsula.

The Hoh Tribe, the Quileute Tribe, the Quinault Indian Nation, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will all be partners in the program’s Washington iteration.

Visit the NOAA coastal science website (coastalscience.noaa.gov) for further details.

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