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Schools of colorful pennantfish, pyramid, and milletseed butterflyfish live on an atoll reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. When a fringing reef continues to grow upward from a volcanic island that has sunk entirely below sea level, an atoll is formed. Barrier reefs are similar to fringing reefs in that they also border a shoreline; however, instead of growing directly out from the shore, they are separated from land by an expanse of water. Coral reefs are important because they bring in billions of dollars to our economy through tourism, protect coastal homes from storms, support promising medical treatments, and provide a home for millions of aquatic species.
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program works to protect coral reefs through research, education, and preservation programs. Every Kid in a Park is a federal government effort to get every fourth grader in the nation into public lands and waters during the school year.
At NOAA's National Ocean Service, we translate science, tools, and services into action to address threats to coastal areas such as climate change, population growth, port congestion, and contaminants in the environment—all working towards healthy coasts and healthy economies.
As relative sea level increases, it no longer takes a strong storm or a hurricane to cause coastal flooding. During a perigean spring tide, those areas that normally experience frequent nuisance flooding may see even higher levels of inundation with longer duration. In this image, a perigee moon coincides with high tide to cause coastal flooding conditions at Hains Point, Washington D.C. An anchialine pool is an enclosed water body or pond with an underground connection to the ocean.
Anchialine pools have their own unique ecosystems populated by tiny and often rare species of crustaceans, fish, and eels. Many anchialine pools are found in underground cave systems and are favorite destinations for cave divers seeking to observe unusual cave species. More than half of the world’s known anchialine pools are found in the Hawaiian Islands. Dolphins have longer noses, bigger mouths, more curved dorsal fins, and longer, leaner bodies than porpoises.The Northeastern Offshore Spotted Dolphin, shown here, has a falcate, or sickle-shaped dorsal fin and light spotting on the belly.
Dolphins and porpoises have many similarities, one of which is their extreme intelligence.
It is likely that more (or fewer) differences between dolphins and porpoises will be revealed as researchers continue to investigate these intriguing sentinels of the sea. Corals are popular as souvenirs, for home decor and in costume jewelry, yet corals are living animals that eat, grow, and reproduce. Corals have long been popular as souvenirs, for home decor, and in jewelry, but many consumers are unaware that these beautiful structures are made by living creatures.
Coral reefs are some of the most biologically rich and economically valuable ecosystems on Earth, but they are threatened by an increasing array of impacts—primarily from global climate change, unsustainable fishing, and pollution. Commercial harvesting to satisfy the demand for coral jewelry has reduced colony size, density, and age structure of Corallium over time. The term benthic refers to anything associated with or occurring on the bottom of a body of water. Benthic habitat maps are derived from aerial imagery, underwater photos, acoustic surveys, and data gathered from sediment samples.


Policy makers, scientists, and researchers use benthic maps to make informed decisions that help protect the nation’s fragile shallow-water coastal areas.
Aquaculture is the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, plants, algae and other organisms in all types of water environments.
As the demand for seafood has increased, technology has made it possible to grow food in coastal marine waters and the open ocean.
In the United States, marine aquaculture produces numerous species including oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, seaweeds, and fish such as salmon, black sea bass, sablefish, yellowtail, and pompano. NOAA is committed to supporting an aquaculture industry that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Weighing in at between 550 and 2,000 pounds with lengths of up to six feet, the leatherback is a big turtle!
You can find leatherback sea turtles as far north as Canada and the northern Pacific Ocean.
Covering approximately 59 million square miles and containing more than half of the free water on Earth, the Pacific is by far the largest of the world's ocean basins. In 1519, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, in the employ of Spain, began a journey across the Atlantic Ocean to seek a western route to the Spice Islands via South America. After braving perilous seas and navigating through what are now known as the Straits of Magellan, his small fleet entered an unfamiliar ocean in Nov.
When Magellan and his crew entered the Pacific Ocean after their long journey, they thought that the Spice Islands were close at hand.
Many reefs, such as the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, are housed in NOAA’s system of marine protected areas.
Come experience our special ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes places — all NOAA public spaces and visitor centers offer free admission! Flooding now occurs with high tides in many locations due to climate-related sea level rise, land subsidence, and the loss of natural barriers. One such creature is the Mexican blind tetra, an albino fish that has lost not only its sight but also its eyes! On the Big Island of Hawaii, the NOAA Restoration Center funded a two-acre restoration project for the pools, which have fallen victim in recent years to invasive fish species that upset the pools’ natural balance. The orca, or killer whale, for example, is actually the largest member of the dolphin family. Most scientists agree that there are 32 dolphin species (plus five closely related species of river dolphin) and only six porpoise species. Dolphins make whistling sounds through their blowholes to communicate with one another underwater. Both have large, complex brains and a structure in their foreheads, called the melon, with which they generate sonar (sound waves) to navigate their underwater world. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures, so leave corals and other marine life on the reef. Strong consumer demand for coral, heightened over the holiday season, is another factor that is contributing to the decline of coral reefs. Harvesting is also lowering the reproduction capability of this species and is decreasing its genetic diversity.


This is partly because the areas are shallow enough to map, but also because these areas are very important to preserve and manage. Aquaculture is a method used to produce food and other commercial products, restore habitat and replenish wild stocks, and rebuild populations of threatened and endangered species.
NOAA efforts primarily focus on marine aquaculture, which refers to farming species that live in the ocean. NOAA experts and partners work to understand the environmental effects of aquaculture in different settings and provide best management practices to help reduce the risk of negative impacts. Leatherback sea turtles can be distinguished from other species of sea turtle by its lack of a hard shell or scales.
Any acceleration in sea level rise that is predicted to occur this century will further intensify nuisance flooding impacts over time, and will further reduce the time between flood events. To restore the ponds, nearly 400 citizen volunteers helped remove the foreign invaders and reintroduce native vegetation.
Scientists are pretty sure that porpoises do not do this, and some think this may be due to structural differences in the porpoise’s blowhole. Finished pieces of jewelry and art crafted from this type of coral can fetch anywhere between $20 and $20,000 in the marketplace. Research indicates that removal of red and pink corals for the global jewelry and art trade is also leading to smaller and smaller Corallium in the wild.
Once coral is harvested—especially when it's extracted at a young age—surrounding coral beds often do not recover. This fishery is carefully managed by the state of Hawaii and the federal government to ensure that this species of coral is not overexploited. Within the United States, the leatherback is known to nest in southeast Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.
Primary threats to the turtles include incidental take in commercial fisheries and marine pollution, as well as the harvest of eggs. He called this body of water pacific, due to the calmness of the water at the time ('pacific' means peaceful).
Due to their subterranean connection to the ocean, anchialine surface waters are often brackish and become more saline (salty) with increasing depth. The restored sites are monitored twice a month to remove algae and maintain the revitalized vegetation.
Continued consumer demand is contributing to the decline of these delicate corals around the world. Scientists are learning that the pools’ fragile natural balance makes them good indicators of overall coastal ecosystem health.



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