Baja tourists swear the Eastern North Pacific grays (aka California grays) are just as curious about them as they are about the whales. They claim the magnificent mammals often swim up to whale watching boats as if welcoming interaction. Perhaps they are just happy to be back in the warm waters of Mexico after traveling 10,000 miles from their feeding grounds in Alaska’s Bering Sea. Or perhaps, in their own way, they are thanking humans for the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Under its protection, they were among the first to recover and be removed from the endangered list. Unfortunately, not all marine life has fared so well. Many species and their habitats are still vulnerable and in need of protection. Since human intervention has been documented to make a difference, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) is offering funding to strengthen coastal ecosystems for the benefit of all life forms who depend on them.
The Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program
The purpose of this grant, established in FY 2015, is to improve or restore coastal habitats and make them less vulnerable to environmental extremes. Successful applicants will:
- Identify an issue limiting the resiliency of U.S. marine ecosystems in extreme weather or changing environmental conditions.
- Identify the goals of the proposed project and describe how they will enhance resiliency and reduce risk.
- Use recommendations and strategies found in existing research of coastal vulnerability.
- Encourage collaboration between many stakeholders, including government agencies.
- Provide socioeconomic benefits that accompany restoration of healthy coastal ecosystems, such as fishing, recreation, decreased flooding and other safety hazards.
- Protect vulnerable species including those protected by the Endangered Species Act, those managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight.
Species in the Spotlight
These are the eight species NOAA considers to be the most at risk of extinction. They hope that by highlighting their plight and raising awareness, they can help them to rebound just as the California Gray whales did. Those in most need of protection are:
- Gulf of Maine Atlantic Salmon
- Central California Coast Coho Salmon
- Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
- Hawaiian Monk Seal
- Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle
- Sacramento River Winter-run Chinook
- Southern Resident Killer Whale
- White Abalone
To see what they look like and take a two minute seashore escape, check out the Species in the Spotlight video:
Applying for the Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grant
Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, nonprofit and for profit organizations, state, local and tribal governments. Total funding is $8.5 million with individual awards between $100,000 and $2 million. Apply by August 16, 2016. For more information, visit the Frequently Asked Question Page.
Part of the Department of Commerce, NOAA works to protect the country and particularly the coastlines from natural and environmental hazards. They provide many services and resources worth exploring. Below are just a few:
- Want to make sure the fish on your dinner plate is sustainable? Enter it into the FISHWATCH database and find out.
- Interested in learning more about environmental issues? Their news and features page has informative articles and videos.
- Know of a teacher who would love hands on experience to share with their classroom? Tell them about the Teachers at Sea program where they can sail aboard NOAA’s research ships
- Always wanted to have an Olympian in the family? Explore the Science Olympiad which brings science competitions and other fun activities to grades K-12. (They provide scientific data and other resources for Science Olympiad.)
- Need to stay on top of inclement weather? NOAA operates the 24/7 NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) network for weather and public safety information.