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Cruise Report: Summer 2009 Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve Ecological Characterization

Author(s): Cooksey, C.; J. Hyland

NCCOS Center: CCEHBR (http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/about/centers/ccehbr)

Publication Type: NOAA Technical Memoranda

Journal Title: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 101

Date of Publication: 2009

Reference Information: 26 pages

Keywords: National Estuarine Research Reserve; ecological condition; benthic communities; sediment and tissue contaminants; Integrated Ecosystem Assessments

Abstract: This cruise report is a summary of a field survey conducted within the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR), located on the Georgia coastline, June 7 – June 13, 2009. Multiple indicators of ecological condition and human dimensions were sampled synoptically at each of 30 stations throughout SINERR using a random probabilistic sampling design. Samples were collected for the analysis of benthic community structure and composition; concentrations of chemical contaminants (metals, pesticides, PAHs, PCBs, PBDEs) in sediments and target demersal biota; nutrient and chlorophyll levels in the water column; bacterial contaminants in the water column; and other basic habitat characteristics such as depth, salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, total suspended solids, pH, sediment grain size, and organic carbon content. In addition to the fish samples that were collected for analysis of chemical contaminants relative to human-health consumption limits, other human-dimension indicators were sampled as well including presence or absence of fishing gear, vessels, surface trash, and noxious sediment odors. The overall purpose of the survey was to collect data to assess the status of ecosystem condition and potential stressor impacts throughout SINERR, based on these various indicators and corresponding management thresholds, and to provide this information as a baseline for determining how such conditions may be changing with time. While sample analysis is still ongoing a few preliminary results and observations are reported here. A final report will be completed once all data have been processed. The results will provide a comprehensive weight-of-evidence basis for evaluating current condition (aka a “state-of-the-SINEER environmental report”) and serve as a quantitative benchmark for tracking any future changes due to either natural or human disturbances. Another goal of the study is to demonstrate its utility as a possible model for assessing the status of condition at other NEERS sites using similar and consistent methods to promote system-wide regional and national comparisons.

Availability: NCCOS publications webpage

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