University of California
California Sea Grant funded a series of research projects to evaluate the ecological consequences of beach grooming on shorebirds and grunion - a fish that spawns in wet sand. The research, conducted by University of California biologists, has shown that removing kelp deprives shorebirds of foraging opportunities while raking sand damages grunion eggs. Beach grooming, however, can be modified to protect grunion eggs. Scientists presented their findings to city council members in Southern California and to others involved in improving beach maintenance practices at highly populated urban beaches.
Because of this research, City of San Diego beaches are now groomed in a manner that reduces damage to grunion eggs. The research and a volunteer program that developed around the research project received widespread media attention in major Southern California newspapers and TV stations.
Working in collaboration with the boating industry and state regulators, the California Sea Grant Extension Program is educating boaters about non-toxic alternatives to copper-based anti-fouling hull paints. Marine Advisor Leigh Taylor Johnson has collaborated on research showing it would cost recreational boat owners in San Diego Bay $20 million to convert all boats to non-toxic hull paints over 7 years but only $1 million if the transition was spread over 15 years. This economic data is being brought into current discussions on how to clean up bays and marinas.
In separate but related work, an environmental toxicologist at California Institute of Technology was funded to develop instrumentation capable of distinguishing bio-available forms of metallic compounds in seawater from those that are not available for uptake by organisms - work that will help water quality officials monitor and prioritize clean-up efforts.
As part of an effort to stem the tide of exotics into coastal waters, California Sea Grant Extension Program leads a regional ballast water outreach program. With participation from port authorities and the shipping industry, and with co-sponsorship from the CALFED Bay-Delta Program and the National Sea Grant College Program, the West Coast Ballast Outreach Project publishes an educational newsletter called "Ballast Exchange" and maintains an educational website on ballast water issues and aquatic nuisance species, among other things. Nearly 30,000 award-winning ballast water posters developed by the Ballast Outreach Project have been distributed to ships entering state waters.
These educational materials explain how ballast water carries exotics and why this is a serious ecological problem. The Port of Long Beach, San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, U.S. Coast Guard and California State Lands Commission distribute these education materials.
Illustrating the importance of land practices for water quality, University of California scientists recently discovered that microorganisms in cat feces were killing California sea otters, a federally protected species. The findings were shared with wildlife officials charged with protecting otters and are beingincorporated into recovery plans for the species. In related ongoing California Sea Grant research, scientists are helping dairy owners develop cost-effective ways for preventing contaminated runoff from entering Tomales Bay, a major shellfish-growing area often closed to harvesting because of concerns about waterborne pathogens in runoff. The projects have received widespread media attention in state and national newspapers, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.
Proving that introduced species can be contained, federal and state officials are expected to announce in the fall of 2004 that the "killer seaweed" Caulerpa taxifolia has been eradicated from Huntington Harbour in Orange County and from Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad. Infamous for having smothered huge areas of the sea floor in the Mediterranean Sea, Caulerpa was discovered for the first time in North America in 2000. California Sea Grant has supported vigilant Caulerpa eradication efforts led by federal and state agencies, including NOAA Fisheries. In 2002, it was a co-host of the first "International Caulerpa taxifolia Conference." In 2003, it and MIT Sea Grant hosted the "Third International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions," at which recent research on Caulerpa (some of which was funded by California Sea Grant) was presented by leading researchers.
Funded research to model pollution transport in Santa Monica Bay in Los Angeles. The model that was developed is making it possible to simulate the dispersion and fate of runoff and contaminates in this waterway. Supported the development of a set of DNA markers that allow researchers to track sources of fecal coliform bacteria, the primary indicator used to evaluate water quality. The Orange County Water District has used the markers to help it identify sources of strange films on its water filtration systems.
Also supported the development of instrumentation that allows researchers to detect the presence of the human adenovirus, a cousin of the hepatitis A virus, in seawater samples. The research is a first step in being able to monitor viral pollution in coastal waters. Currently water safety standards are based on bacterial counts. Some scientists believe viral pollution is a significant, overlooked public health risk. The Public Facilities and Resources Department in Orange County has used the method developed in this project to examine sources of contamination in the Aliso Creek watershed.
University of Southern California
Sponsored investigations of ocean processes and biology associated with the White's Point sewage outfall, the largest sewage outfall in the United States, discharging an average of 330 million gallons per day onto the Palos Verdes shelf adjacent to Santa Monica Bay. In several interdisciplinary research projects, Sea Grant scientists have investigated the complex oceanographic processes affecting dispersion of the outfall plume and the resuspension of trace metals and nutrient fluxes from bottom sediments near the outfall.
Organized a workshop with Santa Monica Bay Restoration project and Southern California Coastal Water Resource Project about the stormwater runoff form Ballona Creek and Malibu Creek. A package of research projects aimed at determining the impacts of the stormwater stemmed off the success of the workshop.
Funded research focused mainly on the dangers represented by elevated levels of human bacteria and viruses of the coastal waters surrounding Los Angeles. The project results are valuable for the Los Angeles and Orange County Sanitation authorities that have been working closely with Sea Grant in order to provide state-of-the-art methods for detecting such pathogens. Supporting projects that investigate the effects of human impacts on the urban rocky shores. The growing population in Southern California warrants the need to identify the balance between long-term conservation of living resources and short-term pressures of the humans.
Working in conjunction with Maine Sea Grant, USCSG is working to develop protocols with national and international utility for assessing impacts of the rising sea levels and associated process of coastal change, i.e. storm surges, erosion, and shoreline retreat. Operated an active K-12 marine science education program. This outreach project is designed to distribute information about Southern California's marine resources, recreational opportunities, boating, and swimming safety.
City of Wilmington Project Impact Program. Delaware Sea Grant outreach staff serve on the steering committee for the City of Wilmington Project Impact Program. Project Impact is a FEMA-supported program designed to assist communities in building their capabilities to reduce the impacts of natural disasters. Sea Grant’s role has been to provide assistance in public education and awareness of coastal hazards and flooding. Currently, Sea Grant staff are developing interpretive signage about lightning and coastal flooding for the Wilmington riverfront.
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. Delaware Sea Grant outreach staff also serve on the Board of Directors for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. This non-profit group supports the work of the Delaware Estuary Program through public education and outreach throughout the tri-state watershed (DE, NJ, and PA). The major urban areas of Philadelphia, PA, Trenton, NJ, and Wilmington, DE, are targeted for education and outreach programs about the Delaware Estuary.
Delaware Clean Marina Program. Delaware’s Clean Marina Program was officially launched June 16, 2003. The voluntary program is coordinated by Delaware Sea Grant with support from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Center for the Inland Bays. The new program’s goal is to enlist marina operators and boaters in reducing pollution in Delaware’s waterways. Qualified marinas will be recognized for their pollution-control efforts with the “Delaware Clean Marina” certification.
Delaware NEMO. Delaware Sea Grant is the primary contact for Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) in Delaware. Working with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and several other agencies, Sea Grant outreach staff have organized a number of water-quality related activities and workshops, from the Inland Bays Citizens Monitoring Program, involving local citizens in testing the water quality of Rehoboth, Indian River, and Little Assawoman bays, to smart-growth planning for coastal communities.
Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Research. Sea Grant-funded researchers at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies recently completed a study to determine how polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of toxic pollutants, impact the Delaware River and Bay’s tiniest life: microbes. Found naturally in crude oil, creosote, tar, and coal, PAHs do not dissolve easily in water. In bays and estuaries, they can cause tumors in fish and bioaccumulate to deadly levels in oysters and other bottom dwellers.
The Sea Grant research team used DNA fingerprinting techniques to identify microbes in Delaware River water and compare their genetic composition. They also isolated bacteria that can detoxify PAHs — a major scientific accomplishment because marine bacteria are very difficult to culture. The scientists used additional molecular methods to study those bacteria in the Delaware River that couldn’t be cultured. Their goal was to quantify these bacteria and determine how PAHs affect them.
The research results showed that some microbial groups in the Delaware Estuary degrade PAHs, which the scientists found surprising because the nutrients associated with PAHs are low, making them less desirable to bacteria than other, more nutritious food sources. “The positive aspect is that bioremediation of PAHs in the Delaware Estuary is possible,” says Sea Grant researcher David Kirchman. “The negative news is that PAHs have adverse effects on other microbes that carry out important functions in the ecosystem.”
One of the team’s collaborators was the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which is working to address pollution of the Delaware River near the former Naval shipyard at Philadelphia and at other estuarine sites.
Sediment Transport in the Upper Delaware Estuary. Every year, over a million tons of sediment — about 100,000 dump-truck loads of mud — flow into the Delaware Estuary, which extends 134 miles from Trenton to the ocean. A Delaware Sea Grant research project led by University of Delaware geologist Chris Sommerfield is working to reveal where all this sediment comes from, how it’s transported, and where it ends up. Ultimately, the goal of the research is to develop a “sediment budget” for the estuary — an account of the various sources and eventual resting places, or “sinks,” for the muds. Understanding how the input of sediment balances with the amount that’s permanently trapped or taken away by dredging is critical to managing issues ranging from shoreline erosion to toxic contaminants.
Researchers are using a variety of tools to track sediment transport: current meters to assess water flow, turbidity sensors to monitor sediment concentration, seafloor mapping to reveal the bottom terrain, and sediment cores — long cylinders of sediment extracted from beneath the seafloor — that provide a history of deposition.
Recently, the team discovered that the seafloor itself is a major source of sediment — contributing over a million tons a year on average — due to widespread bottom erosion by tidal currents. While the scientists say that this sort of erosion is innate in estuaries worldwide, its scale had never before been determined in the Delaware Estuary. Their findings suggest that much of the sediment dredged annually from the 40-foot shipping channel originates from this erosion.
Using Satellite Technology to Monitor Coastal Ecosystems. While satellites are rapidly becoming the tool of choice in monitoring the ocean, coastal areas still present problems for some satellite sensors. For example, in the open ocean, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), which detects variations in ocean color, can provide accurate information on chlorophyll concentrations, which indicate the productivity of ocean waters and the presence of algae. However, closer to the coast, increased sediment and organic matter in the water, generated by human inputs and land runoff, and increased reflectance from the seafloor in shallower areas, presents a much more optically complex environment, which creates difficulties for the sensor's data-processing programs to sort out.
Currently, Sea Grant researchers Xiao-Hai Yan and Vic Klemas are working out the complex mathematics behind new satellite image-processing techniques that will help scientists and resource managers more easily monitor chlorophyll concentrations and other major water-quality indicators in the Delaware Bay. Their results should provide new and enhanced methods of data analysis and remote sensing applications, as well as fresh insight about the hydrodynamic environment of the Delaware Bay and the adjacent coastal area.
Coast Day Showcase Exhibit on Ports. At Coast Day 2003, Delaware Sea Grant’s showcase exhibit focused on “Delaware’s River of Global Commerce,” highlighting ports and marine transportation on the Delaware River. More than 8,000 visitors learned about the economic importance of the Philadelphia port complex and the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, through displays, interactive exhibits, and a ship flag identification activity. After Coast Day, the exhibit traveled to the Port of Wilmington for a six-month public display period.
Marine Transportation Symposium. Delaware Sea Grant co-sponsored a marine transportation symposium on October 23, 2003, focusing on national and international policy issues affecting marine transportation, including implications of technological changes in vessels and ports, safety in shipping, maritime security in ports and harbors, and environmental issues such as ballast water discharges, invasive species, and air pollution from ships.
Wilmington Lunch & Lecture Series. Delaware Sea Grant outreach staff also annually help coordinate and promote a public lecture series, held periodically from November through April, at the five-star Hotel du Pont in Wilmington. The lunchtime series highlights current University of Delaware marine and coastal research. Recent topics have ranged from The Inland Bays: Pollution and Solution” to “Delaware’s River of Global Commerce.”
Port Security Booklet. In 2002, Delaware Sea Grant published the 80-page booklet “Port Security for the United States,” compiled and edited by Professor Gerard J. Mangone, an internationally renowned expert in marine policy.
Dredging Reports. In 1999, Delaware Sea Grant published two “white paper” reports relating to the impacts of dredging the Delaware River and Bay's shipping channel: “Sedimentary Impact of Dredging the Delaware Estuary: Geochemical Impacts and Natural Radionuclide Tracers” and “Impact of Dredge Spoil Disposal on Benthic Communities in the Delaware Estuary.”
The Delaware Estuary: Rediscovering a Forgotten Resource. Over a decade ago, Delaware Sea Grant published "The Delaware Estuary: Rediscovering a Forgotten Resource," which was critical for public education. The work was important in helping to nominate the Delaware Estuary to EPA's National Estuary Program.
The southern Lake Michigan region is a unique place that encompasses urban, industrial, residential, agricultural, and natural settings. There are a number of pressures and concerns in this region that are addressed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG).
In the face of growing populations and limited resources, four regional planning agencies in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin (with support from IISG) have committed to work together to manage environmental, economic, and transportation concerns for the future. The Wingspread Tri-State Regional Accord covers 17 counties, nearly 8,000 square miles, and more than 1,500 government entities in the southern Lake Michigan region. This has led to the Tri-State Water Consortium, which will plan for a sustainable, high quality water supply for future generations in the greater Chicago metropolitan area.
Planning with POWER (Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources), is a program designed to help local decision-makers and citizens protect water and other natural resources while allowing for compatible economic growth. Funded by IISG and Purdue University Extension Service, it provides the critical link between a community’s land-use planning and its watershed and natural resource plans. Currently, 10 percent of the Indiana’s counties are working closely with the program (including metropolitan Porter County along Lake Michigan) to update comprehensive land use plans and policies.
The Calumet Restoration Initiative is an ambitious project of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois to rejuvenate this depressed region both economically and ecologically. As a result of IISG research, an optimal site for a new environmental center in the Calumet region has been identified. Since then, the Ford Motor Company and other industry supporters have donated $7 million to the project. This year, Sea Grant is funding research to estimate the non-market economic benefits for citizens of the Lake Calumet region from the proposed restoration of the Hegewisch Marsh and the development of the environmental center.
A Web site designed by Sea Grant provides current water quality information about Indiana’s Lake Michigan beaches so that the 1.7 million beachgoers can assess their risks before leaving home. In July and August of 2003, shortly after its inception, the site had approximately 3,000 visitors a day.
IISG has created several publications to direct fish consumption advisory information to critical populations in urban centers. Contaminants in Fish and Seafood, written for women who are pregnant, who plan to be pregnant, or who have babies or young children, explains the potential health impacts on babies and children from eating even small amounts of mercury or PCB-contaminated fish. The ABCs of PCBs, was written in four languages--English, Spanish, Polish, and Korean--to reach a number of underserved audiences with information about PCBs in fish and their connection to human health.
IISG is funding several research projects focused on heavy metals and mercury, which will be critical for resource managers as they decide where and how to enact remediation efforts in the highly polluted Calumet region and beyond.
Through the U. S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) in partnership with IISG, legislators and agency managers in all Great Lakes states and Canada now have access to the latest science-based Great Lakes monitoring information on which to base policy and management decisions. IISG’s Great Lakes ecosystem extension specialist in the GLNPO office has provided a critical link between research and outreach at the agency.
The State of Illinois turned to IISG (and Chicago’s Port Authority) to educate the shipping industry about aquatic invasive species issues. The result is Stop Ballast Water Invasions, a brochure for the Great Lakes shipping community, which is distributed to ship captains entering the Illinois International Port; Burns Harbor, Indiana; and other Great Lakes ports.
Clean Water/Partners in Monitoring
Sea Grant Marine Extension Team (MET) members provide organizational and technical support to citizen water quality monitoring groups that study the health of estuarine water by monitoring for dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, salinity, and fecal coliform bacteria.
Maine Healthy Coastal Beaches
An MET member is the statewide coordinator for this program, which now covers 85% of the beaches with high usage in southern Maine. Volunteer groups systematically monitor coastal swim beach water quality, using quality control and quality assurance protocols, to develop best practices at the beach that will ultimately protect public health.
Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring Program
Community and student volunteers monitor for phytoplankton that have the potential to cause harmful algal blooms (HABs), also known as “red tide.” The program, coordinated by a marine extension staff member, is designed to act as an early warning system for HAB's, which may result in shellfish bed closures due to biotoxins.
Microbial Source Tracking
This project, coordinated by the MET, uses microbial tracking to identify bacteria found in nonpoint pollution source samples taken from two southern Maine watersheds. This method is more cost effective and efficient in determining watershed water quality and remediating pollution sources.
Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO)
An MET member is the regional contact person for NEMO, an educational program for land use decision makers that addresses the relationship between land use and natural resource protection, with a focus on water resources, nonpoint source pollution, and stormwater runoff.
Beach Profile Monitoring
Led by a Marine Extension Team member, volunteers measure the erosion and accretion of sand on southern Maine beaches, located in the most developed section of the coast. The data collected is being used to create a long-term picture of coastal processes on the state's sandy beaches.
Marine Area Characterization
Sea Grant is a partner in this project, which is developing recommendations on methods for conducting marine inventories of human and ecological attributes of Maine’s bays and estuaries. These will be used to develop a citizens' guide, which will help residents understand and manage their local marine areas.
Marine extension staff work with a variety of partners to help advance sustainable tourism for the Maine coast and to develop priorities that foster its development.
Maine Sea Grant is a partner in the Working Waterfront Access Coalition, formed in 2002 to address the decline of access for working waterfront communities. Through forums and publications, this outreach project provides information and tools for protecting waterfront access for water-dependent industries and the public.
Understanding Beach Closings
Thanks to a massive ongoing clean-up effort, Boston Harbor is now known as an environmental success story-a far cry from 1988, when it was called the country's dirtiest harbor. However, despite this transformation, some Boston beaches are frequently still closed during the summer due to high levels of bacteria. Such contamination would generally be associated with combined sewer overflows (CSOs). However, the fact that these high levels were occurring during dry periods indicated other factors were at play.
MIT Sea Grant spearheaded a scientific advisory committee to better understand the causes for these closures. Drawing on data collected from state and federal agencies, the scientific advisory committee found that dry weather beach closures were the result of broken sewer pipes and the illegal hook-up of sewer pipes to storm water pipes. The committee concluded that human waste in stormwater and CSOs are the prime reasons for overall beach closings in South Boston and North Dorchester and recommended a plan addressing all bacterial sources to increase the number of clean swimming days. Recently, the state approved a plan to build a large storage tank tthat would collect storm water and CSO overflows, thereby removing both sources from the beaches.
Urban Waterfront Renewal
The Detroit River, an American and Canadian Heritage River, continued its transformation from industrial waterway to valued natural resource. An important transportation route, the river also provides drinking water to approximately five million people and boasts the only International Wildlife Refuge in North America. See http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/ahr.html
A Michigan Sea Grant Extension agent chaired the steering committee of the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative through mid-December 2003. The Initiative provides an essential role in prioritizing, coordinating and securing funding for numerous waterfront greenways and redevelopment projects. See http://miseagrant.umich.edu/greenways
International Wildlife Center
Led by Michigan Sea Grant Extension, the Greater Detroit AHR Initiative provided assistance to Wayne County’s parks division in obtaining a $50,000 coastal zone management grant for planning a Detroit River International Wildlife Center. Plans call for the center to be constructed on a 40-acre parcel on the lower Detroit River near Humbug Marsh, which was officially acquired in 2003 for conservation purposes.
Detroit’s Wild Side
Michigan Sea Grant Extension contributed to the development of the publication Discover Our Wild Side, produced by partners of the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge for the 2003 Centennial Celebration of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The 23-page publication highlights the water resources, wildlife, heritage and recreational opportunities in Southeast Michigan. See http://www.mac-web.org/Publications/discoverourwildside.pdf
Michigan Sea Grant co-sponsored and moderated a soft engineering conference on Belle Isle in Detroit in October 2003, highlighting ecological principles and practices to stabilize shorelines. Engineers, landscape architects and regulatory personnel from around the state participated in the conference, which incorporated a hands-on component that illustrated state-of-the-art installation techniques along the Detroit River.
A Home for Sturgeon
A project to create spawning reefs in the Detroit River for the threatened lake sturgeon was announced by the City of Detroit and the Detroit Recreation Department in November 2003. Michigan Sea Grant administration is managing and implementing the $430,000 project that will include an educational display at Belle Isle. The sturgeon habitat project is funded by grants from NOAA’s Great Lakes Coastal Restoration Program, through the Michigan Coastal Management Program, and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, with additional support from multiple partners. See http://miseagrant.umich.edu/sturgeon
Land Use Planning
Michigan’s Land Use Leadership Council used information from the Michigan Sea Grant report, published by Michigan Sea Grant communications, Status of Land Use Planning in Michigan’s Great Lakes Shoreline Communities, in developing its 150+ recommendations to Governor Jennifer Granholm on actions to make the best use of Michigan’s land use resources. See http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/coastal.html
Great Lakes Restoration
Michigan Hosts First in Series of Focus Groups
In an effort to develop restoration planning priorities for the Great Lakes, Michigan Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Commission, in partnership with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, are leading an effort to develop the scientific basis for a comprehensive restoration plan for the region. At the heart of this initiative are focus group sessions held in each Great Lakes state.
NH Sea Grant staff worked with the city of Portsmouth and other partners to develop a restoration plan for an urban stream that is bringing contaminants into the Great Bay Estuary.
As part of their NEMOesque education program for community decision makers, NH Sea Grant works with watershed communities to prepare and execute natural resource protection projects.
NH Sea Grant also coordinates volunteer water quality monitoring in two urbanized estuaries (This monitoring data has been used by state agencies to open and close traditional shellfish beds.) and storm drain stenciling projects using volunteers in partnership with local departments of public works in coastal towns.
Using GIS technologies and information provided by local officials, NYSG's Coastal Processes and Facilities Specialist Jay Tanski is developing planning maps that depict the potential response to flooding and erosion problems associated with an accelerated rate of sea level rise. This information will be used to develop better estimates of the potential impact of sea level at the national level and help communities understand how this phenomena may affect them.
In another effort, Tanski is using grant monies from NOAA's Coastal Services Center to coordinate federal and state partners in a project to develop a web-based geographic information system to disseminate information and data on coastal erosion hazards to federal, state and local government officials and the public.
Principal priority in the Urban Coast theme is to identify and quantify the key physical, chemical and biological processes and mechanisms that control the transport, distribution and fate of toxic chemical contaminants and nutrients in the Great Lakes and coastal waters.
Currently supporting four research projects on (1) the chemical and physiological responses of freshwater aquatic organisms to exposure to trace metals; (2) how changes in food-web structure and water quality affect the concentrations of PCBs in the Lake Michigan biota; (3) the sources and processes that control the bioaccumulation of toxic methyl mercury in benthic food webs in southern Lake Superior, and (4) DNA fingerprinting and antibiotic-resistance profiling to identify the sources, transport mechanisms and fate of bacterial and viral contamination of Lake Michigan beaches.
Outreach in this theme includes using geographic information systems (GIS) to refine stormwater management in coastal watersheds; supporting Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) projects in Wisconsin; disseminating information on PCB and PBDE contamination of Lake Michigan fish, and engaging, educating and training students and adults in volunteer monitoring the water quality of sensitive Great Lakes tributaries.
* These summaries were compiled with the help of network communicators and may not reflect all the network efforts in this area. They do provide an index of the depth and breadth of Sea Grant's interest in the important issues emerging from the urban coast.