Counts on Stellwagen Bank Seek Biological Riches
July 1, 2001
Anne Smrcina, 781-545-8026 x204
Commerce Departments National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) today announced a team of divers will explore Stellwagen
Bank as part of a national effort to provide information on the
health and habitat of local fish populations. NOAAs Gerry
E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, working with
the local diving community, is helping to sponsor this first-ever
Great American Fish Count (GAFC) in the Gulf of Maine region.
data collected by our volunteer dive team will begin to allow
us to measure specific fish populations from year to year,"
said Craig MacDonald, superintendent for the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen
Bank National Marine Sanctuary. "The exciting aspect of these
dives is seeing what new and unusual species call Stellwagen their
Great American Fish Count, which began in 1992 and is managed
by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), is one
way for scientists to better study and understand the marine world.
The national scope of the Fish Count has led to its incorporation
into REEFs partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary
realize that we have limited resources to conduct all the monitoring
needed in the Sanctuary System, and we rely on these volunteers
to fill in some of the gaps," said Dr. Steve Gittings, science
coordinator for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System. "We encourage
people to get involved in volunteer monitoring activities such
as the Great American Fish Count."
GAFCs mission is to educate the public and raise awareness
about fish populations and the marine environment; generate information
regarding trends in fish populations; and encourage the participation
and involvement of divers and snorkelers in ongoing fish monitoring.
year during July, an ever-growing number of volunteer divers and
snorkelers are participating in the Fish Count. Participants receive
training in local fish identification and behavior and also receive
instruction in an easy-to-learn survey method developed by fish
ecologists. By recording their observations in a standardized
method, divers and snorkelers assist resource managers in identifying
long-term trends in fish populations and distributions.
National Marine Sanctuary System is administered by NOAA's National
Ocean Service and serves as the trustee for the nations system
of marine protected areas. For more information on the Stellwagen
Bank Sanctuary and the 13-site National Marine Sanctuary System,
please visit http://www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/.
more information on REEF and the Great American Fish Count, please