NCCOS’s Mussel Watch Program at Risk after Completing 23rd Year of Monitoring the Nation’s Coasts
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science completed the 23rd year of sampling of U.S. coasts with this year’s completion of sampling zebra mussels in the Great Lakes this September. National sampling was made possible because of the collaboration of such groups as the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Southern California Coastal Water Resources Project, the State of California Water Resources Control Board, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Data from the Mussel Watch Program were recently made available to NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration to help define contaminant concentrations in Texas and Louisiana prior to the landfall of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav. The budget outlook for this Program is not good, and Mussel Watch will be terminated in mid-2009. Mussel Watch data represent a nationally relevant time series of ambient contaminant conditions. It is the national “gold standard” for determining baseline conditions so that the effects of oil spills and natural and manmade disasters can be assessed. Once a time series of this breadth and duration is terminated it will likely never be replicated, and the nation will have lost a critical capability to assess the status and trends of contamination of our estuarine and coastal waters.