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Session Abstracts


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.

Sanctuary Monitoring: Why and How

Andrew DeVogelaere, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey, CA

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 implementation of resource protection measures. Are our efforts working? What is the health of the Sanctuary? Will it be in good shape for future generations? During the last three years, the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) has been compiling information from existing monitoring projects, gathering historical information, funding new monitoring, and making trends available to the public. We are fortunate to manage and area where there is a rich history of monitoring and where the concentration and caliber of marine scientists is unparalleled throughout the world. A tremendous amount of monitoring information is now available through the SIMoN web site at, and Sanctuary staff has much more access to information needed for important policy decisions. However, we are still challenged with how best to report on the overall health of the Sanctuary. In today's symposium you will learn from experts about the resource trends they are measuring, and we will formulate new ideas through panel discussions on how best to integrate information across habitats for sound policy. This is your Sanctuary and it will only succeed through a groundswell of support and insight from the public and marine resource specialists; please provide us with your insight through the conference evaluation form or the SIMoN web site.

Tracking Ecological Changes to Inform
Conservation in a Central California Estuary

Kerstin Wasson, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, CA

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.

Threats to our Coastal Resources:
Are We Loving the Seashore to Death?

Pete Raimondi, Long Marine Laboratory, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

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 the same time local interest in marine biology and ecology has sky-rocketed. Because the intertidal is really the only easily accessible marine area use there has increased exponentially. This has led to quandary: how to encourage appreciation and love of coastal resources, while at the same time protecting those resources. In essence, the issues relate to human access in coastal areas. In particular, we need to understand: (1) how does access affect intertidal communities (eg. tidepool communities), (2) what is the most reasonable access policy and (3) how to coordinate access policies.

It Takes a Forest to Raise a Fish

Mark H. Carr, Long Marine Laboratory, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

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 Challenges of Monitoring Marine Mammal Populations

Karin Forney, National Marine Fisheries Service, Santa Cruz, CA
John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA

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 in abundance. Similarly, longterm aerial surveys of harbor porpoise off California initially suggested population declines, but further analyses determined the changes to be caused by an unknown response to varying ocean temperatures. Targeted studies are now underway to better understand harbor porpoise movements and habitat use to improve our monitoring efforts. These examples highlight some of the interesting challenges involved in monitoring marine mammal populations.



Citizen Monitoring: Real People, Real Science, Real Results

Bridget Hoover, Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network, Monterey, CA.

Volunteer monitoring has been collecting valuable data in the Monterey Bay area for over 5 years, when unique programs such as First Flush and Urban Watch were first initiated. The Urban Watch program measures pollutant concentrations in dry season storm drain outflow, and the First Flush program compliments Urban Watch by measuring pollutant concentrations from the same locations, but during the first storm of the season. Together, these programs are filling a gap in information by monitoring the quality of water in storm drains, a source of water pollution that is overlooked by traditional programs. Ultimately, these programs will provide a feedback mechanism on current urban runoff control efforts. Snapshot Day is another monitoring event that brings together over 200 volunteers on the first Saturday of May to monitor the health of rivers and creeks from Pacifica to Morro Bay. All of the citizen-based water quality monitoring, including programs such as the Coastal Watershed Council's Clean Streams program and many other volunteer monitoring groups, is developing a core dataset that is establishing trends; identifying hot spots for follow up action, and establishing a baseline to which future data can be compared against. Other volunteer programs within the Sanctuary include TeamOCEAN, knowledgeable naturalists on the water in sanctuary kayaks, to greet and interact with fellow day kayakers; BeachCOMBERS, a beach monitoring study utilizing volunteers to sample selected beaches for dead mammals and birds; and BAY NET where docents interact with the public at various locations along the shoreline, interpreting and providing information about the sanctuary and its unique natural resources.



Policy Panel: Does Good Science Lead to Sound Policy?

Mike Sutton, Monterey Bay Aquarium Center for the Future of the Oceans, Monterey, CA; Stephen Palumbi, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA; Andrew Rosenberg, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

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.

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