After Pollution Strikes, Restoring the Lost Cultural Bond Between Tribes and the Environment

Posted Wed, 04/06/2016 - 18:44

When I’ve heard residents of the Alaskan Arctic speak about the potential impacts of an oil spill, I don’t hear any lines of separation between the oil spill causing injury to the environment and injury to the community.

Their discussions about the potential harm to walrus or seals inevitably include how this will impact the community’s ability to hunt for food, which affects both their food security and traditions. The cultures of these communities are inextricably tied to the land and sea.

Alaska Updates Plan for Using Dispersants During Oil Spills

Posted Thu, 01/28/2016 - 18:54

While the best way to deal with oil spills in the ocean is to prevent them in the first place, when they do happen, we need to be ready. Cleanup is difficult, and there are no magic remedies to remove all the oil. Most big oil spills require a combination of cleanup tools.

This week the Alaska Regional Response Team, an advisory council for oil spill responses in Alaska, has adopted a revised plan for one of the most controversial tools in the toolbox: Chemical dispersants.

It Took More Than the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill to Pass the Historic Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Posted Tue, 08/18/2015 - 18:17

AUGUST 18, 2015 — If you, like many, believe oil shouldn't just be spilled without consequence into the ocean, then you, like us, should be grateful for a very important U.S. law known as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Congress passed this legislation and President George H.W. Bush signed it into law 25 years ago on August 18, 1990, which was the summer after the tanker Exxon Valdez hit ground in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Why Are Seabirds so Vulnerable to Oil Spills?

Posted Tue, 01/13/2015 - 14:36

Out of the squawking thousands of black and white birds crowding the cliff, a single male sidled up to the rocky edge. After arranging a few out-of-place feathers with his sleek beak, the bird plunged like a bullet into the ocean below. These penguin look-alikes (no relation) are Common Murres. Found along the U.S. coast from Alaska to California, this abundant species of seabird dives underwater, using its wings to pursue a seafood dinner, namely small fish.

Why You Should Thank a Hydrographer alyssa.dillon Fri, 06/21/2013 - 14:05

World Hydrography Day is celebrated each year on June 21. But before we start thanking hydrographers, we first should explain: What is a hydrographer?

Basically, a hydrographer measures and documents the shape and features of the ocean floor and coasts. These scientists then create charts showing the ocean’s varying depths and the location of underwater obstructions, such as rocky outcroppings or shipwrecks. As our fellow NOAA colleagues at the Office of Coast Survey (an office full of hydrographers) further elaborate, “hydrographic surveying ‘looks’ into the ocean to see what the sea floor looks like,” with most of the work “primarily concerned with water depth.”

Waking up to our Relationship with Oil

Posted Thu, 07/12/2012 - 14:31
By Vicki Loe, Office of Response and Restoration

JULY 17, 2012 — When I think about oil consumption, I immediately think of gasoline and how much I drive. And I often feel pretty good about it because I drive a relatively fuel-efficient car. But oil is part of plenty of other products in our lives too. Seattle, the city in which I live, recently has banned plastic bags, which are made from oil, and also prohibits restaurants and grocery stores from using Styrofoam (oil-based) containers for take-out food.

Mussel Memory: How a Long-Term Marine Pollution Program Got New Life

Posted Mon, 06/11/2012 - 14:04

JUNE 11, 2012 — Scraping small black mussels off of slippery rocks in the Pacific Northwest's chilly, wet January weather probably doesn't sound like much fun. However, thanks to the dedicated folks who endure those conditions (and to several other important partners), these mussels and others tested in NOAA's National Mussel Watch Program will keep telling us about water pollution levels and seafood safety for years to come

Over a Century After the Titanic and the Dangers of Sea Ice

Posted Fri, 04/13/2012 - 12:44

One of the greatest marine accidents of the 20th century involved an ocean liner hitting an iceberg. The Titanic, a passenger ship bound for New York City, sank in the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg on April 15, 2012. Now more than a century has passed since that historic incident, and the dangers of sea ice are still present in maritime travels.