[Coral-List] History and Lessons of the SEAKEYS Program

Jim Hendee jim.hendee at noaa.gov
Fri Mar 9 14:07:30 EST 2012

And it was from SEAKEYS that we began our model of building and
instrumenting our Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Network, stations
of which have included the Bahamas, Jamaica, La Parguera (Puerto Rico), St.
Croix (USVI), Little Cayman, Saipan, and soon, Belize and other nations
within the Caribbean.  If it hadn't been through the lessons learned from
SEAKEYS, we never would have arrived at this juncture.

So THANKS to John Ogden and Billy Causey and our many colleagues over the
years!  Hopefully we can still save SEAKEYS somehow!

  cheers, Jim

On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM, John Ogden <jogden at usf.edu> wrote:

> Hello Everyone,
> It might be time to weigh in to this discussion with a little history of
> the SEAKEYS program and a few comments.  SEAKEYS was established
> following a 1989 NOAA-sponsored workshop of local scientists in the
> Florida Keys organized by the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) at
> which the question was asked: "What would be most useful to support
> science in the Keys for the next 20 years."  Recall the era-- climate
> change was coming into prominence, global warming was the issue of the
> day and coral reefs were the canary in the mine.  The top recommendation
> was a system of automated sensors across the whole of the Florida Keys
> with a long shopping list attached and temperature monitoring at the top.
> The FIO went to NOAA with a proposal which was immediately turned away.
> By accident, we had just made contact with the new MacArthur Foundation
> which was looking for projects.  They bought the idea with a substantial
> grant.  This was great, but how to proceed?  Cash in hand, the FIO
> established a partnership with the NOAA National Oceanographic Data
> Center (NODC) and they adapted 6 of their standard C-MAN weather
> monitoring stations for our list of sensors in addition to their usual
> C-MAN suite with additional ports for expansion and sensor
> experimentation.  Importantly, NODC also provided heavy, elegant,
> expensive custom-made stainless brackets to attach the equipment to the
> historic Keys lighthouses from Fowey Rocks to the Dry Tortugas.
> So far so good, but shortly firehoses of data were streaming into in the
> SEAKEYS base of operations at the Keys Marine Laboratory and we found
> ourselves way out of our depth.  Another bit of luck was making contact
> with Jim Hendee and colleagues at the NOAA AOML laboratory in Miami, who
> offered to take in the data, organize it and make it accessible via a
> new web site.   We were discovering that if it costs X to set up an
> observing system, it will cost at least X to deal with the data.
> The new system and its data streams rapidly helped science make progress
> in the brand new Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and was used by
> local citizens and businesses, but funding, now transitioned from the
> MacArthur Foundation to the Sanctuary budget, was always a problem.  On
> one occasion, the intervention of the Key West Harbor Pilots saved the
> program funding within the Sanctuary budget.   There was no interest in
> funding the program within the Florida legislature, they didn't
> understand it.  Even after their own Florida Ocean and Coastal Council,
> created under the Oceans Act of 2004 to provide priorities for spending,
> made ocean observing a top priority, the legislature still ignored it.
> Meanwhile (almost done!) ocean observing was coming into its own with
> virtually everyone beginning to speak with one voice about the need for
> it.   We all hope that the demonstrable needs and the unanimity of our
> sometime fractious community will finally make ocean observing a basic
> activity for our ocean future.  As for SEAKEYS, it had a good run and
> will prove something of a model as new systems are set up.  I can't help
> but recall a discussion with then-Senator Lowell Weicker the key
> congressional supporter for the NOAA Hydrolab program at West Indies
> Laboratory on St. Croix in the 1980s.  The funding was drying up after
> almost 10 years and he said: "Nobody wants to fund an old program, no
> matter how good it is;  we must do something new.".
> Onward!
> --
> ******************************************
> CHANGE EMAIL ADDRESS TO: jogden at usf.edu
> ******************************************
> John C. Ogden
> USF Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology
> 190 18th Avenue North
> St. Petersburg, FL 33704 USA
> Home office: 727-894-5940
> Cell: 727-641-4673
> Email: jogden at usf.edu
> http://biology.usf.edu/ib/faculty/jogden/
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