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

Ulf Erlingsson ceo at lindorm.com
Fri Mar 9 15:03:20 EST 2012

Is the SEAKEYS program coordinated with ICES? It should be... Getting strong international support for it might help persuade the state to support it.


Ulf Erlingsson

On 2012-03-09, at 14:07, Jim Hendee wrote:

> 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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