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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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NOAA's Marine Sanctuaries

NOAA's Marine Sanctuaries

National Marine Sanctuary Map (credit: NOAA)

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is known for its weather monitoring satellites and providing storm-warning forecasts. The science agency also manages and conducts research within a system of national marine reserves. Their efforts aim is to sustain these oceanic environments and their biodiversity.

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is the trustee for a network of reserves encompassing coastal waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys and outwards into the western Pacific Ocean. This system includes 13 marine sanctuaries and 2 national monuments co-managed with other federal agencies. According to the Agency, these sanctuaries generate nearly $8 billion for coastal and marine dependent economies. Productive activities include commercial fishing, research, and outdoor recreation. Sustaining these marine ecosystems also helps to sustain local economies.

A recent research expedition to American Samoa made several discoveries in one protected reserve, the only one in the southern hemisphere. NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to study the biological diversity there. Within the Samoan coral sanctuary, reef invertebrates, fishes, turtles, along with marine plants, birds, and mammals were observed. The sanctuary also protects some of the oldest and largest corals in the world, several deep water reefs, hydrothermal vent communities, and other marine wildlife.

While most Americans live far from the South Pacific, NOAA's research provides the actual data used to maintain ecosystems that benefits everyone. Their work should be celebrated, supported, and expanded as ocean acidification, plastic pollution, and climate change exact a damaging toll. An exploration video presents the diversity in Samoa, the most remote reserve in the US marine sanctuary system. WHB

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