Solution specific articles for Marine, Ocean, Coastal, Science & Information.

Harmful Algal Bloom Alerts are Saving Lives of Shellfish Consumers

The shellfish industry depends on harmful algal bloom alerts from Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Lynker’s staff writer at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management shares the details:

Kachemak Bay Reserve Alerts Thousands to Poisoned Shellfish Dangers

Communicating harmful conditions helps keep shellfish consumers safe.

A harmful algal bloom alert for Alaska’s Kachemak Bay is saving the lives of recreational and subsistence shellfish consumers—thanks to NOAA’s Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which monitors 12 sites for toxic phytoplankton and publishes weekly reports for communities and the state’s shellfish-poisoning communication team. The reports also include mussel toxin-level data from other labs.

In 2015 Kachemak Bay experienced its first harmful algal bloom event in 10 years. As ocean temperatures rise, blooms are expected to occur more frequently. Consumers of bloom-affected shellfish can experience paralytic shellfish poisoning symptoms that include tingling, light-headedness, numbness, and even death. The Kachemak Bay Reserve’s Coastal Training Program brought community partners together to determine how to improve local monitoring and response efforts. Today both goals are being realized.

Recently the reserve’s monitoring program provided a warning about toxic shellfish in Homer Harbor a full week before oyster farms had reached their toxin limit (commercial shellfish in Alaska are monitored and inspected). And the partnership networking component is working, too. A Facebook posting about this event was shared 253 times, reaching 18,373 people in rural Alaska. Unfortunately, six reports of illness potentially tied to this type of poisoning were found, but the impact could have been much worse had it not been for this monitoring and notification effort.

Lives are at stake. Subsistence shellfish harvesting serves a vital nutritional and cultural role for many indigenous Alaskans, especially those in rural areas. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, rural subsistence users harvest more than 36 million pounds of wild foods annually.

The Kachemak Bay Reserve is supported by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management through the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program. Their Harmful Species Program receives assistance through three NOAA labs: the Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research and Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, both part of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science; and the Undersea Research Program, part of the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. (2017)

Partners: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, National Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, NOAA Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, NOAA Undersea Research Program, Seldovia Village Tribe, Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins

Photo credit: Alaska Center for Conservation Science

Shellfish Economy Depends on Research Reserve Data

Data from the National Estuarine Research Reserves helps the US shellfish industry increase commercial yields. Lynker’s staff at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management help tell the story for National Seafood Month.

Multimillion-Dollar Shellfish Economy Depends on Research Reserve Data

By monitoring oxygen, eelgrass health, and other marsh variables, the data system supports shellfish habitat and commercial yields.
U.S. estuaries are the lifeblood of commercial shellfishing. Total fish catch in estuaries contributes $4.3 billion annually to the national economy, and estuaries are nurseries to more than 75 percent of all the fish and shellfish harvested. Data from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s environmental monitoring program keeps shellfish businesses informed about conditions and supports product safety. Examples are provided below:

• The West Coast reserves—California’s San Francisco Bay and Elkhorn Slough, Oregon’s South Slough, and Washington State’s Padilla Bay—provide the region’s $270 million annual commercial shellfish industry with critical data about marsh health, including oxygen and nitrogen levels, eelgrass health, turbidity, restoration, and other marsh variables.

• In Massachusetts, the Waquoit Bay Reserve’s water-temperature data are routinely used by the state’s shellfish aquaculture industry, an economic powerhouse that in 2013 generated more than $25 million in profits and paid out nearly $12 million in wages.

• The Apalachicola (Florida), ACE Basin (South Carolina), and North Inlet-Winyah Bay (South Carolina) reserves collect rainfall, salinity, and temperature data critical to the commercial blue crab industry, which in Florida alone carried a dockside value of over $12 million in 2015.

• In North Carolina, the commercial oyster harvests garner $4.5 million in annual profits. Harmful bacteria have caused repeated shellfish farm closures, so the North Carolina Reserve and University of North Carolina are developing a tool to help shellfish aquaculture firms make more-informed siting decisions.

• In Alaska, the Kachemak Bay Reserve supplies real-time temperature, oxygen, acidification, and toxin-related data used by commercial oyster farms and state officials. Alaska’s seafood industry employs more people than any other private industry in the state, and fishermen in this North Pacific region made $238 million in 2014 from crab alone.

• In South Carolina, data from the ACE Basin Reserve aids the state’s shrimp industry—which in 2015 netted more than two million pounds with a dockside value of over $8 million—by predicting areas of shrimp abundance and sending out alerts when black-gill disease is found. (2017)

Image Credit: NOAA Photo Gallery


Cold-Stun Alert Helps Save Spotted Seatrout in VA and SC

The National Estuarine Research Reserves in Virginia and SouthCarolina have a cold-stun alert that aids fisheries to temperature drops and potential die-offs. Check out the story written by Lynker staff at NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management.

Cold-Stun Alert Aids Fishery Managers and Seatrout Stocks

The alerts’ real-time monitoring data comes from three research reserves in Virginia and South Carolina.

Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is piloting a cold stun alert system that identifies when sudden drops in water temperature could cause die-offs of Spotted Seatrout and other species along Virginia’s Bay areas and the South Carolina coast. It gives commercial and recreational fishermen the chance to take actions that can preserve existing stocks. Spotted sea trout (Cynoscion nebulosus) are popular catches for commercial and recreational fishermen trolling the Chesapeake Bay, Southeast coast, and Gulf of Mexico.

The alerts use real-time monitoring data from the Virginia research reserve as well as South Carolina’s ACE Basin and North Inlet-Winyah Bay research reserves. The system also logs how long each temperature drop lasts. “Winter kills” are a serious threat to local and regional Spotted Seatrout. The cold-stun alert can help fishery managers act to save fish populations by temporarily cutting their catch quotas or asking recreational fishermen to “catch and release” for a limited time. For example, a 2018 winter kill along Virginia’s coast motivated North Carolina’s Division of Marine Fisheries to enact an emergency season closure through June 15, which allowed surviving seatrout to spawn in springtime.

Spotted Seatrout is an important cash crop for commercial fisheries. In 2017, North Carolina’s Division of Marine Fisheries reported commercial landings of nearly 300,000 pounds of this species. The Virginia research reserve hopes to expand the alert system to the Gulf of Mexico and other areas along the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico coasts. (2018)


Lynker, Pacific Islands Fisheries Group, and Local Fishers Collaborate

Lynker and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group (PIFG), a Hawaii-based research cooperative, have been out on the water this fall, sampling in 75 fishing locations to determine abundance and health of Hawaii’s “Deep 7” bottomfish, including opakapaka (pink snapper), onaga (longtail snapper), ehu (squirrelfish snapper), kalekale (Von Siebold’s snapper), gindai (Brigham’s snapper), lehi (silverjaw snapper), and hapuʻupuʻu (Seale’s grouper).
These fish species are jointly managed by state and federal authorities, and our work, funded by NOAA Fisheries, will help scientists, policy-makers, and the local community better ensure the sustainability of these important stocks (currently not overfished) now and into the future.
The research fishing portion of the survey is now 44% complete, with overall survey completion at 66%.
A huge shout-out to the local fishing captains and observers, who spend days on the water, often in less than ideal conditions, collecting the samples around the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, in making this survey a success.

Lynker Honors Employees at NOAA’s Science on a Sphere

Lynker celebrates with employees by giving service awards and hosting a luncheon at NOAA’s Science on a Sphere. Thank you to all the employees who attended the event!

Lynker Supports PRiMO Conference in American Samoa to Help Protect Pacific Islands From Natural Hazards

Lynker staff flew to American Samoa last week to support the PRiMO (Pacific Risk Management ‘Ohana) Conference and bring together community leaders to protect Pacific Island communities from natural hazards.

For more information check out the official conference page on NOAA’s website

Lynker Participates in International Coastal Cleanup

Lynker is proud to have participated in the InternationalCoastalCleanup last week as part of our work with NOAA Digital Coast, and NOAA Marine Debris. You never know what you’ll find creeping into the marsh as marine debris.


Lynker in Niagara Falls Supporting NOAA Digital Coast

Lynker was recently in Niagara Falls, supporting NOAA Digital Coast and meeting with our Great Lakes partners.


Scavenger Hunt in Rota and Saipan to Gain LIDAR Data

Lynker employees Jamie Carter and Ross Winans recently surveyed sites in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) supporting @NOAA Digital Coast’s LIDAR validation work. In addition, they were able to acquire NGS-compliant data at several of the benchmarks that NGS needs for the Mariana Terrestrial Reference Frame of 2022 (MATRF2022) – all while lugging around over 350 pounds of equipment!

They travelled to Rota, Saipan, and Tinian, hiking approximately 25 sites per island. Our work is part of the NOAA Office for Coastal Management’s Digital Coast and critically useful for restoring infrastructure and mitigating hazards.

Lidar data is commonly used and accessed for the rest of the U.S., but none existed for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). Local managers can now use this data to create inundation and storm surge models, shoreline maps, tsunami models and zones, and habitat maps. Additionally, this data will be used to create emergency response plans and assist many coastal resource managers, scientists, and emergency response personnel with disaster preparedness. 

Local and federal agencies had a large stake in this project, while community involvement and support was crucial throughout. NOAA, FEMA, and USDA are all heavily invested in LIDAR data, and this project enhanced their collaboration on data collection and processing. Additionally, we worked with NGS to perform quality assurance on all of the data and be compliant with their standards.

Trekking through these islands was like a large scavenger hunt to find each site, especially the ones with challenging access points and location descriptions – find the corner of the fence post (that no longer exists) and your mark to find the site will be there (but may be buried).


Lynker Team Helps Ocean Planners With Easy to Read Reports

Get an easy-to-read report to learn what’s happening in your area of the ocean! A new tool from @MarineCadastre, OceanReports, includes descriptive infographics and supporting data for use in offshore planning, permitting, environmental review, and more. Lynker team members provided support throughout the creation and release of the tool. See it here:,4753280.983019757/4