skip to main content | skip to footer
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program - 2013-08-12

Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program

Soundings Archive

Jan-June 2014

Jul-Dec 2013

Jan-Jun 2013

Jul-Dec 2012

Jan-Jun 2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

1994

1993

1992

1991

1990

1989

1988

 

 

 

 

 

Web Content Display Web Content Display

 Did you know?

  • The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System is the second largest estuary in the nation.
  • Eighty percent of North Carolina’s marine fish species spend part of their life cycle in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System.
  • The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System is the largest fish nursery on the eastern seaboard.
  • FerryMon data and lesson plans are available on the FerryMon website (www.ferrymon.org) for teachers.

Applications and users of FerryMon information include:

  • Evaluating the Total Maximum Daily Loads (nutrients)  mandated by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure acceptable water quality for the Neuse River Estuary.
  • Developing algorithms for remote sensing of chlorophyll a (including harmful algal blooms) and turbidity In collaboration with the state of North Carolina, EPA and NASA, which helps researchers and managers to “scale up” for the Pamlico Sound System.
  • Calibrating and validating a range of predictive water quality models used by managers and decision-makers for protecting water quality and fisheries habitats in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System.
  • Providing an educational resource by using an interactive website for instructional (K-12), research and public information purposes.
  • Providing platforms for developing and testing water quality/climatological instrumentation for assessing effects of pollutants, human pathogens and greenhouse gases (e.g. CO2).
  • Serving as a national model for real-time assessment of estuarine and coastal water quality.

 

“Come Mister FerryMon, monitor me water”

Guest post by Kerry Irish and Alan Joyner, UNC-CH Institute of Marine Sciences
August  12, 2013

FerryMon utilizes NCDOT ferries to monitor the health of the waters they traverse

FerryMon utilizes NCDOT ferries to monitor the health of the waters they traverse

During hurricane season, storms can dramatically alter ecosystems. This was evident in 2006 when Tropical Storm Ernesto arrived, leaving in its wake a change in chlorophyll levels for the Neuse River and Pamlico Estuary. Increased levels of chlorophyll mean more algae, which can have negative impacts. This particular case led to a massive fish kill.

The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System is North Carolina’s most important aquatic resource. It is the nation’s second largest estuary, supporting an enormous percentage of the southeastern U.S. fishery, and is a mainstay of North Carolina’s coastal economy.

This estuarine system is essential for fish habitat, tourism, recreation and residential values. In order to maintain these elements, it is vital to keep watch on the water quality of this system. That’s no easy task. Pressures on the estuary are immense and range from natural events such as hurricanes, agricultural inputs, development and the persistent threat of sea-level rise.

Hans Paerl and research technician, Karen Rossignol retrieve water samples to take back to the lab for analysis

Hans Paerl and research technician, Karen Rossignol retrieve water samples to take back to the lab for analysis

“The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is the largest body of water in the U.S. that we know the least about,” says Dr. Hans Paerl, Kenan Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences. “Ferries in North Carolina are the first on and last off the water, and as such give us a remarkable, cost-effective way to monitor water quality in this huge system.”

Hence, the FerryMon program was born.

The team running FerryMon - short for Ferry-based Monitoring of Surface Water Quality in North Carolina - have equipped three North Carolina ferry routes with state-of-the-art water quality monitoring equipment. These instruments are continually sampling the water, unbeknownst to the riders above deck. Capitalizing on technological advances in chemical sensing, staff members in Dr. Paerl’s lab can download real-time data on conditions in the system to analyze without ever leaving their lab. If a specific problem is detected, an in-line water sampler can be triggered to collect samples for more detailed laboratory analyses. This information is then immediately shared with state and federal water quality and fisheries habitat agencies.

The locations of the FerryMon ferry routes (A), the onboard monitoring equipment (B), and an example of the data collected by the ferries (C).

The locations of the FerryMon ferry routes (A), the onboard monitoring equipment (B), and an example of the data collected by the ferries (C).

The cause of the 2006 fish kill would have gone unresolved if not for the information provided by the FerryMon program. No one else had any estuarine water quality data to help understand why there was such a massive fish kill.

“Tropical Storm Ernesto demonstrated the sensitivity of the estuary to rapid changes in nutrients. A system that has a nutrient overload can see devastating effects,” remarked Paerl. “FerryMon provided a long-term data set for us to compare what was happening in the system before and after. This is critical information to answer complex ecological questions such as ‘why was there a fish kill?’”

FerryMon decreases costs, time and effort, and yields faster results as compared with many traditional water quality monitoring programs. As such, FerryMon has become a model for “platform of opportunity” water quality sampling around the nation (and other National Estuary Programs), with scientists making use of vessels already plying the waters to help them take water samples.

Ferry at sunset

Ferry at sunset

FerryMon is in its 13th year and will continue to provide important insights into the health of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System, thanks to funding for the next two years from the North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grants Program.

Next time you take a ride on one of North Carolina’s ferries, don’t forget, you are helping monitor the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System.

For more information on FerryMon and its data, visit www.ferrymon.org. The website also provides lesson plans for teachers to use in the classroom.

Want to hear more from APNEP? Sign up for our mailing list or check out the links below:

Facebook twitter LinkedIn Calendar flickr RSS Feed news clips on delicious

Web Content Display Web Content Display
61563 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.