By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration
*A Halloween Spooky Science Story
Once there were six waterways cursed by pollution.
But terrifying toxins and oozing oil spills were not the first dooms to befall these rivers, each of them had already been dammed. The dams had been constructed for a variety of important reasons, but as the years passed and they fell out of use, an evil crept over them.
Everyone at NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration plays a crucial role in our mission. For many of us, our journey into the marine world can be traced back to a special place that first sparked a love of water and wild places. This first installment of our new monthly series “Homewaters” explores some of the waters that kindled a passion that would go on to last a lifetime.
By Frank Csulak, Office of Response and Restoration
The ocean side of Virginia’s Eastern Shore extends from Assateague Island at the Maryland border to Fisherman’s Island at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It is comprised of 23 dynamic islands, made up of sand, wetlands, and lagoons, and is one of the largest undeveloped stretches of shoreline along the East Coast. The Virginia Barrier Islands are remote, ecologically valuable, and highly sensitive to oil spills.
In 2013, one lawsuit spurred the question — how much do coastal ecosystems protect people from storms and what is that worth? It's a question NOAA scientists and economists are working to answer. At NOAA, our job is to protect our coasts, but often, coastal ecosystems are the ones protecting us.
Every month our Emergency Response Division provides scientific expertise and services to the U.S. Coast Guard on everything from running oil spill trajectories to model where the spill may spread, to possible effects on wildlife and fisheries and estimates on how long the oil may stay in the environment.
This month OR&R responded to 12 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and other pollution-related incidents.