By Mary Simms
HONOLULU (KHNL) - Our nation's "oldest science agency" is celebrating its bicentennial. Predicting hurricanes and responding to disasters are just a few of the responsibilities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. KHNL news 8's Mary Simms tells us how the agency is still hard at work in the pacific, where they are responsible for an area four times larger than the continental United States.
From the sky to the sea, NOAA is there. Today NOAA celebrated its birthday at a fair in Waikiki. Scientists working for agency, do everything from forecasting the weather, to protecting monk seals and tracking turtles.
"These animals have been on the planet longer than we have and they're almost an indicator of the health of our oceans, so we need to take them as kind of a signal of how the oceans are doing, how our planet is doing," said Stacy Kubis, a marine turtle biologist.
They use tools, like the "Ecopath model," which helps scientist understand the food chain.
Back in the ocean, a program called "Turtle Watch" helps long line fishermen avoid turtles.
"If you stay below this line chances are your encounters with these animals will be fewer and you'll be able to fish longer," said Kubis, referring to the program.
NOAA also owns a Gulf Stream Jet that gathers information on the weather. Last week, they made sure conditions were safe during the First Lady's visit to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
"I think its just really important that the research that NOAA scientist conduct, contribute to our understanding of the oceans and how we as humans use them," said Kubis.
And it doesn't end there. Marine debris, greenhouse gases, and tsunami warnings are just a few of the other areas of expertise for NOAA scientists.