Monday, March 31, 2014

Critical Announcement - NC NOAA Marine Lab IS on the chopping block

A good way to argue there is no harm being done to the oceans is by shutting down the science that protects them as well as helps us appreciate them.  Is that why North Carolina's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is scheduled to be shut down?

The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee will be accepting comments for the record. Go this website

Deadline for submission of your comments is 31 March 2014.
call and/or email, to stop this nonsense.  Of course you only have today to do it conveniently.  Please voice your objection to shutting down the science that we ALL depend upon including our Sea Turtles!!!.



As we all recognize, the lab and its staff are so critical to the sea turtle program in North Carolina.  This is a very serious situation.  We may lose this laboratory. Please take a few minutes to raise your voice in support of the lab and its importance to us.  Thank you for considering this and for taking action!  


Here is information to aid in your response:


NOAA’s National Ocean Service’s Request to Close the Beaufort Laboratory


Issue – Long term cost of maintaining the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory (NOAA, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research)


“To strengthen NOAA’s coastal sci­ence in the long run, NOAA proposes to reduce its phys­ical footprint and fixed costs by closing the Beaufort, N.C. laboratory…” 

On this budget item, a NOAA spokesperson in Silver Spring was quoted saying:  “this aging facility requires infrastructure repairs and improvements exceeding agency budget resources..”   

Response – Urge proposed closure of NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory be removed from the NOS budget

Inaccurate, outdated information that overstated the costs of maintaining the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory was used in the analysis that lead to the request to close this facility.


In recent years, NOAA has invested approximately $14 million in new construction and renovations at the Beaufort Laboratory. 


An updated engineering report (2014) documents the condition of the facility is not structurally unsound. There have been substantial improvements to the facility.

Facilities Upgrades

2006  $7 M   Administration Building replaced (NC NERRs contributed $1M)

2007  $2.1 M         Bridge replaced – cost shared with Duke University

2008  $0.86M   Maintenance Building replaced

2009       $0.5M   Air conditioning / Air handler replacement and mold abatement

2009       $1.0M     Sample Storage/Chemical Storage/Haz-Mat buildings consolidated and replaced

2014       $1.65M  Seawall repair, electrical upgrade and State of NC funded storm water control


Current Staffing at NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory

71 Full time federal staff members, 40 National Marine Fisheries staff, 31 National Ocean Service staff

33.5 Contract positions and 8 NC NEERs staff


The National Ocean Service, in initiating the closure request, understated the NOS staff and did not account for the more than 40 National Marine Fisheries Service staff or the 8 staff members of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (Rachel Carson) co located at the facility. In total 108 staff and contractors will be directly affected by this closure.


Desired Outcomes

  • NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory closure proposed in the 2015 President’s Budget Request should not be included in the NOS budget.
  • Congress should inform NOAA that requests for closure of NOS laboratories will not be entertained in the future.
  • Congress should direct NOAA to restore staffing, operational support and funding for science to full operational levels to utilize the capacity of the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory.
  • NOAA should provide a report and a timeline to Congress with a strategy to address these concerns.


Science Issues - NOAA’s FY 15 Budget Summary


Issue - While the National Ocean Service, NOAA is calling for the closure of the Beaufort NC laboratory, it is requesting an increase of $4M to another center to support Ecological Forecasting of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), Hypoxia, pathogens and Species Distributions.



It is ironic the budget initiative for FY2015 requests increased research funding for coastal ocean issues , including harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and coastal ecosystem management at the same time it is proposing to close the Beaufort Laboratory, which has both well-established expertise and facilities required to address many of those very same issues.  .  


The Beaufort Laboratory has established an extraordinary record for scientific excellence in its research. NOAA has repeatedly recognized individual researchers, research teams, and the Laboratory as a whole for the outstanding quality of the work performed there.  The laboratory’s excellent research capabilities and reputation also attract support, both from other branches of NOAA and from other organizations which have recognized potential benefits of the Laboratory’s studies, and long have augmented the support provided by NOAA.  



The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee will be accepting comments for the record.  Go this website


Deadline for submission of your comments is 31 March 2014.




Jean Beasley

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center

Topsail Island, NC



For all of the wildlife on earth their future must depend upon the conscience of mankind.

Dr. Archie Carr

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Hope Among the Doubtful

I've been texting with an old high school friend lately from landlocked Elmira, NY.  Many of my friends and family are not quite sure about this work that I do.  Number one, I spend many weeks of the year out on the open water collecting surface samples, and two, that I actually think I am going to make a difference in plastic consumption.  He commented on how the debris field that was mistaken for the missing Malaysia plane should make people realize how much trash is in the ocean, though he added, "Its not going to change unless people stop being selfish gluttons . . ."  I responded, "That's why I work with little people on up to college students because they are the only hope for change."
Studying biofilm on plastic
I sometimes wonder myself, out of all the issues in the world, why would I try taking on something as popular as plastics and inadvertently the chemical and petroleum industry.  Couldn't my time and money be spent better on more worthy causes like child or animal welfare?  I don't have to think about it long before I get back into the saddle since the work that we are doing is for BOTH child and animal welfare.  Because only a small percentage of the over 80,000 chemical compounds in production has ever been tested for safety, it is vital that independent research groups make sure the plastics we use for our beverage and food containers are safe for the sake of our children.  Furthermore, we lose 300,000 sea birds and over 100,000 marine mammals annually due to plastic ingestion and/or entanglement.  We've got a lot of work to do to slow down these numbers and why we are committed despite the challenges.

Sorting  N. Atlnatic surface samples with students
On the flip side,  plastic marine debris provides such an array of research possibilities. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time than having undergraduates learn scientific method in the field while they observe beach dynamics through the collection of beach samples.  Others learn sophisticated programs besides Excel, like Grapher, and ArcGIS, all of which look good on their resumes.  Because plastic marine debris is visible, it does not necessarily require complicated instruments like what is needed to study mercury, PCB, or DDT and allows for students from many disiplines to participate in the research.  Plastic marine debris serves as a tool for students to observe, form hypothesis, quantify, and formulate conclusions based on the data they collect.  That said, some of our students do preform chemical analysis. One of our students proved that PAHs transfer from plastics into sea turtle gastric-intestinal juices.  Other students are setting up an experiment to see if micro zooplankton will selectively feed on plastic particulates while another student is attempting to answer the question, "Do plastic water bottles leach chemicals into their "ultra-filtered" water?"
Found in an upsidedown cup and released

Though we are making strides in answering these questions in our lab, it requires adequate funding, and with small donations we could do so much more.  Currently, Jack Johnson is donating $2,500 as match funds.  But without donations, we will not be able to collect the funds desperately needed to continue the educational work that can lead to better conservation efforts.  Please consider a $5 donation