[Coral-List] SEAKEYS Project Terminated

Jim Hendee jim.hendee at noaa.gov
Tue Mar 6 11:43:43 EST 2012

This sad bit of news comes from a recent SECOORA (Southeast Coastal Ocean
Observing Regional Association) bulletin.  The station referred to that
AOML will maintain is located on the Molasses Reef lighthouse.

*SEAKEYS Assets Removed from Water*


The SEAKEYS network has been operational for over 20 years and provides a
long time series of observations in the Florida Keys. The program provides
a framework for long-term monitoring and research along the 220 mile
Florida coral reef tract and in Florida Bay at a geographical scale
encompassing the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).
Compounding the problem of limited funding, the instruments are primarily
on a series of stationary platforms (lighthouses, towers), the structural
integrity of which has now becoming questionable due to age. The US Coast
Guard do not have plans to repair the lighthouses but intend to sell. It is
anticipated that non-profit entities will purchase these for their
historical value.

To address the future of SEAKEYS and its infrastructure and funding, the
Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) held a meeting at the Keys Marine
Lab in November 2011. The user community was invited and included
representatives from many areas of NOAA (Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary; National Weather Service; Atlantic Oceanographic and
Meteorological Laboratory; Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory),
the National Park Service, the Ocean Reef and Gun Club, and FIO. The
NOAA/National Data Buoy Center, Coast Guard, FL Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute, and representatives from Audubon, the dive and fishing
communities, and staff from a local legislative office were unable to
attend, but some sent letters of support. Following the meeting other
funding sources were sought but were not successfully identified.

At the end of 2011, due to a lack of financial support, FIO made the
difficult decision to terminate the SEAKEYS program, and are withdrawing
all FIO assets from the water. NOAA/AOML, with assistance from NOAA/FKNMS,
has agreed to take over maintenance of one station (FIO is loaning an
instrument to NOAA/AOML for this purpose); NOAA/GLERL are investigating the
possibility of maintaining a second station; and a limited subset of
meteorological sensors will be visited every two years by NOAA/NDBC, with
no maintenance support between visits.

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