Preparing for Anything: What to Do When a Hypothetical Ferry Disaster Overlaps with a National Presidential Convention
By Frank Csulak, NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator
alyssa.gray Wed, 08/03/2016 - 17:51

When you’re in the business of emergency response, you need to be prepared for all kinds of disasters and all kinds of scenarios. Being a NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator, the disaster scenarios I’m usually involved with have some connection to the coast or major U.S. waterways.

Remotely Controlled Surfboards: Oil Spill Technology of the Future?

Posted Thu, 07/28/2016 - 17:58
By Rachel Pryor

What do remotely controlled surfboards have to do with oil spills? In the future, hopefully a lot more. These “remotely controlled surfboards” are actually wave gliders, small autonomous robots that travel at the ocean surface via wave energy, collecting oceanographic data. Solar panels on top of the gliders power the oceanographic sensors, which transmit the data back to us via satellites.

Oil Spills, Seeps, and the Early Days of Drilling Oil Along California’s Coast alyssa.gray Wed, 07/20/2016 - 18:06

One of the challenges of the 2015 pipeline oil spill near Santa Barbara, California, was distinguishing between oil released from the pipeline and oil released naturally from the many seeps in the area. This challenge could become even more complicated when you consider the history of oil drilling in southern California [PDF] that dates back to the 1860s.

Washington Sea Grant Launches New Program to Prevent Small Oil Spills that Add Up

Posted Tue, 07/05/2016 - 18:15
This is a guest post by Lauren Drakopulos of Washington Sea Grant.

To paraphrase an old saying, “There’s no use crying over spilled oil.” But many people in Washington worry a lot about oil pollution in Puget Sound and other coastal waters around the state.

What many don’t realize is that the biggest source of oil spills to date in Puget Sound isn’t tankers and freighters but small recreational and commercial vessels. Small oil spills from these types of vessels account for 75 percent of the oil spilled in local waters over the last 10 years.

In Florida, Rallying Citizen Scientists to Place an Ocean-Sized Problem Under the Microscope
This week, we’re exploring the problem of plastics in our ocean and the solutions that are making a difference. To learn more about #OceanPlastics this week, keep your eye on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, NOAA’s Marine Debris Blog, and, of course, here.
alyssa.gray Thu, 06/30/2016 - 18:22

Have you ever looked under a microscope at what’s in a sample of ocean water? What do you think you would find?

These days, chances are you would spot tiny bits of plastic known as microplastics, which are less than 5 millimeters long (about the size of a sesame seed).

The Florida Microplastic Awareness Project is giving people the opportunity to glimpse into Florida’s waters and see a microscopic world of plastic pollution up close. This project integrates citizen science—when volunteers contribute to scientific research—with education about microplastics.

Improving Currents Predictions for Washington Waters Will Help Efforts to Prevent and Respond to Oil Spills
This is a post by Amy MacFadyen, NOAA oceanographer and modeler in the Office of Response and Restoration’s Emergency Response Division.
alyssa.gray Thu, 06/23/2016 - 18:31

As a sea kayaking enthusiast who enjoys paddling the waters of Washington’s Puget Sound, I need to have up-to-date information about the currents I’m passing through. Accurate predictions of the strong tidal currents in the sound are critical to safe navigation, and kayak trips in particular need to be timed carefully to ensure safe passage of certain regions.

As a NOAA oceanographer and modeler, I also depend on accurate information about ocean currents to predict where spilled pollutants may travel in the marine environment.

How Do Oil Spills Affect Sea Turtles?

Posted Thu, 06/16/2016 - 18:21

Sea turtles: These beloved marine reptiles have been swimming the seas for millions of years. Yet, in less than a hundred years, threats from humans, such as accidentally catching turtles in fishing gear (“bycatch”), killing nesting turtles and their eggs, and destroying habitat, have caused sea turtle populations to plummet. In fact, all six species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters are listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.