Saturday, March 12, 2005
Mr. William Douros, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Honorable Ralph Rubio, Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments
Welcome to the 2005 Sanctuary Currents Symposium
William J. Douros, Superintendent, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
The purpose of this annual event is twofold: it is an opportunity for the research community and sanctuary staff to bring attention to issues of interest in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and it is a chance for you as members of the marine sanctuary community to talk with local researchers, learn more about your dynamic ocean backyard, and to get involved.
This year the focus is on tracking the health of the sanctuary. Health is a concept familiar to everyone - we all want to have a robust, functioning, lively marine sanctuary. Yet how do we determine what constitutes “healthy?” What is the yardstick we use to measure such a concept?
One way to consider ocean health is to monitor change in habitats and ecosystems over time. The sanctuary staff have partnered with over 80 different institutions and scientists in an effort to track monitoring projects under the umbrella of the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN). Monitoring changes in the sanctuary occurs through a myriad of organizations and individuals who work for academic, government and private institutions. In addition there are many community programs where members of the general public can participate in monitoring activities. Our morning sessions will highlight some of this work by leading authorities in five areas: estuaries, rocky shores, kelp communities, marine mammals and water quality.
During the lunch break you will have an opportunity to wander through the poster session and learn about research in other realms, as well as have a chance to talk with the researchers conducting the work. In addition, local organizations have set up exhibits to share their work and volunteer opportunities with you.
In the afternoon session we will view sanctuary health with a different lens – through the nexus of science and policy. This portion of the day will highlight how research can affect positive change by demonstrating how science can inform policy. The annual Ed Ricketts Memorial Lecture will be given this year by Dr. Barbara Block of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. Dr. Block will discuss her cutting edge research on tuna, and share how her work has influenced fisheries management. The final event of the day will be a lively discussion with three leading experts in the fields of science, law and resource management, where they will ponder the question “Does good science lead to sound policy?” Mr. Mike Sutton of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Center for the Future of the Oceans will moderate a conversation with Dr. Steve Palumbi of Hopkins Marine Station and a leading authority on marine protected areas, and Dr. Andy Rosenberg of University of New Hampshire and a member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
Over all we hope you enjoy, learn and think about your marine sanctuary, and leave feeling inspired to participate in protecting the oceans for future generations. Welcome to the 13th annual Sanctuary Currents Symposium.
A national marine sanctuary is mandated to maintain for future generations the habitat and natural assemblage of living resources that inhabit nationally significant areas. This is to be done in part by supporting long-term monitoring of the resources. In the Monterey Bay Sanctuary, with sheer cliffs and crushing depths, this is no small task. Nonetheless, many work tirelessly to mitigate for human impacts through education and
Estuaries are rare on the Pacific coast. They host a unique suite of resident estuarine plant and animal species, and also support migratory shorebirds and serve as fish nurseries. Estuarine ecosystems are among the most threatened in the world, because they have been dramatically altered and continue to be shaped by many human activities. Monitoring programs can help us to better understand current health of the ecosystem, todetect changes relative to past conditions, and to assess whether management strategies are effective. Elkhorn Slough is the only large estuary between San Francisco and Morro Bay. Three examples illustrate how monitoring data have highlighted threats and motivated improved management strategies. Water quality monitoring. Our 15 year volunteer monitoring program at 24 stations has revealed significant spatial and temporal trends. Nutrient concentrations are remarkably high in some areas, and have shown significant increases over time. These data support the need for better agricultural management practices in the watershed. Invertebrate monitoring: Our data reveal rich invertebrate communities, but also high invasion rates. Elkhorn Slough represents the most highly invaded part of the MBNMS, and this has motivated volunteer early detection efforts for new invasions. Habitat monitoring: Analysis of maps and aerial photographs has revealed a loss of over 50% of the salt marsh due to human hydrological alterations. Bathymetric studies have uncovered dramatic deepening and widening of the main channel of the Slough due to tidal erosion. These investigations motivated the launch of an ambitious, grant-funded tidal wetland management planning process, which is bringing together stakeholders, agencies with jurisdiction over these wetlands, and regional scientists to jointly set habitat goals for the future and develop strategies for achieving them.
There is a long, rich and storied history of intertidal studies in the Monterey Bay Region.
Probably nowhere else in the word has this narrow strip of the coastline been so integral
to the regional identity. This is due in part to at least three factors: (1) the writings of
John Steinbeck, (2) the concentration of marine labs in the area, (3) the rich and easily
accessible intertidal areas. Over the years the population in the area has increased and at
Forests of giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, and bull kelp, Nereocystis leutkeana, on shallow rocky reefs along the coast of central California are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. This productivity reflects both the tremendous growth potential of these macroalgae and the nutrient-rich waters fueled by coastal upwelling. Together, these sources of productivity support species-rich communities of other macroalgae, invertebrates and fishes. The giant kelp itself is an economically important resource, as are many of the invertebrates and fishes that live within these forests. Along with the many “extractive” uses of kelp forests, other human activities (e.g., pollution) have prompted a variety of management measures intended to ensure the persistence of these ecosystems and the services they provide humans. Historically, an impressive number of short-term localized ecological studies have been conducted along the central coast, providing scientists and managers with some understanding of the oceanographic, geologic and ecological processes that influence these ecosystems. They also provide a limited baseline to compare recent studies with, to document if and how these systems have changed over time. Together, past and current studies describe forests that are remarkably dynamic, but support a persistent community of key fishes, invertebrates and macroalgae that can interact strongly to influence the structure (i.e. composition and relative abundance of species) of local forest communities. The structure of these communities varies predictably, depending on the geologic features of the reefs and their exposure to storms. Collaborative efforts involving State, Sanctuary and academic researchers are now monitoring the state of these extraordinary ecosystems.
Whale Tales and Porpoise Puzzles:
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to 30+ marine mammal species,
including endangered whales, several species of porpoise and dolphin, and the ubiquitous
sea lion. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for monitoring
marine mammal populations and managing human impacts. Common methods include
shipboard and aerial surveys, and photo-identification studies in which individuals are identified using unique marks or color patterns. Most cetacean species are monitoredusing coast-wide surveys conducted from large research vessels every 4-5 years. For
some species, however, studies are conducted more frequently to allow closer monitoring
of population trends. Two such species are the endangered humpback whale, and the
harbor porpoise, a species with a history of incidental mortality in fishing nets.
Humpback whale populations have been monitored by Cascadia Research under NOAA
contracts since 1986, and through 1998 had increased from about 600 to 1,000 (annual
rate of 8%). After the 1998 El Niño, however, estimates dropped, raising concern about a
population decline. Data from following years revealed a dramatic recovery to 1,400 and
indicated estimates were being affected by shifts in whale movements, not solely changes
Policy Panel: Does Good Science Lead to Sound Policy?
The morning symposium sessions focus on how monitoring efforts and scientific research address the question of ocean health. In this lively discussion the emphasis will shift to ponder the intersection of science and policy and how that helps us to move towards creating healthier oceans. The central tenant of this afternoon’s discussion will be “Does good science lead to sound environmental policy?” And if so, how? What are the critical factors to determine success? What are the mechanisms through which this can be achieved? What is the role of science, law and politics in shaping ocean policy? We have assembled three national leaders to contemplate these questions. The conversation will be moderated by Mike Sutton, Vice President and Director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Participating in the discussion will be Dr. Stephen Palumbi, a renown marine scientist and professor at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, and Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, a member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and professor of Natural Resources Policy & Management at the University of New Hampshire. The panelists have distinguished careers in the field of ocean science and resource management and will engage in an interesting and thought provoking conversation.