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The following programs are in addition to on-going monitoring efforts conducted by scientists at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control:

South Carolina Estuarine and
Coastal Assessment Program

In 1999, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) initiated a major new collaborative coastal monitoring program: the South Carolina Estuarine and Coastal Assessment Program (SCECAP). One of the most comprehensive coast-wide programs in the nation, SCECAP contributes significant data needed to assess tidal creeks—important nursery habitats for most of the state’s economically valuable species.

The SCECAP program provides a number of benefits to the citizens of South Carolina, including:

• The ability to identify impacted areas of estuarine habitat using a suite of sensitive biological, chemical, and physical measures.

• A standardized protocol that is cost-effective and consistent with protocols common among other U.S. coastal states. Managers will be able to compare conditions in S.C. coastal waters to the overall southeastern region, allowing for better regional prioritization of stressors and impacts.

• More comprehensive periodic reports on the condition of water quality and habitat condition throughout the state’s coastal zone.

In the near future, State of the Estuary summaries will be available through printed reports, electronic files, and the Web sites of both agencies.

For more information about the SCECAP program, visit http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/scecap

Southeast Phytoplankton
Monitoring Network

The Southeast Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (SEPMN) is a tri-state surveillance system for early HAB detection and response. The network comprises secondary marine biology teachers, students, and civic organizations, and is led by algae taxonomist Steve Morton and Jeff Paternoster, outreach specialist. Both Morton and Paternoster are with the NOAA/NOS Marine Biotoxin Program at the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR).

The SEPMN members collect data on phytoplankton distribution and abundance in South Carolina, allowing researchers to begin to develop a phytoplankton species list for the state. The monitoring network supplements other surveillance components such as the sampling of potential “hot spots” (characterized by red tides or lesioned fish) and monthly statewide samplings.

Participating schools are given classroom and on-site training by NOAA/NOS/CCEHBR Marine Biotoxins Program staff to help the students identify more common algal species, including algae known to be harmful. Each group collects phytoplankton samples at least once or twice a week from several different sites using plankton nets. The students will then identify the algae found and relay this information to NOAA/NOS/CCEHBR. If an unknown species is found in abundance, the sample will be sent to the Marine Biotoxins lab for further analysis. Back in the classroom, students learn about algal blooms and observe the samples they have collected.

For more information about the monitoring network, visit http://www.chbr.noaa.gov/pmn

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