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Water Quality | Eelgrass

Marine Waters of Salem Sound


In 2002 Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) released a technical report titled
The Marine Resources of Salem Sound, 1997
. This study observed the status of marine resources (fishery resources) and water quality in Salem Sound for one year. 


Salem Sound Coastwatch through its partnership with the Northeast Coastal Monitoring Collaborative (NCMC) and Applied Analysis Inc. (AAI) has been able to return to monitoring the marine waters of Salem Sound for the first time in 13 years.


In May of 2010, Salem Sound Coastwatch began a partnership with Salem State University's Professor Brad Hubeny of the Department of Geological Studies to replicate DMF’s water quality testing reported in the 1997 study. Six Salem Sound monitoring sites are visited on a monthly basis. Ten samples are taken from each site and transferred to Salem State University and the University of New Hampshire laboratories for chemical analyses from May 2010 through April 2011.


This study has also provided an opportunity for SSCW and SSU to examine sediment deposition throughout Salem Sound by placing sediment traps in locations near each of the six study sites.  


This data was used to ground truth the processed remote sensing images that SSCW received from AAI. A spectral imaging company, AAI is developing new quantitative approaches and technologies for extracting information from overhead remote sensing systems. This project with AAI is the first large-scale remote detailed characterization of water quality and ecosystems along the Massachusetts coastline using commercial satellites.


Funding for the project was supported by the Massachusetts congressional delegation, specifically the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, Congressman John Tierney, Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas and former-Congressman Bill Delahunt. In FY10, the congressional delegation was able to secure $550,000 in congressional funding for NCMC to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). NOAA and the environmental coastal member groups of NCMC used some of the funding for image processing, partnering with AAI, and for coastline assessment and ground truth efforts.


Results from the marine water sampling were discussed at SSCW's 2011 symposium, What is the State of Salem Sound? when Dr. Hubeny presented the nutrient data and compared it to 1997 before secondary treatment of sewerage went on line in Salem Sound.


AAI 11-30-10

Processing by AAI of this 29 November 2010 satellite image, acquired at low tide, revealed a large-scale algae growth feature (green) in Salem Sound. There were no obvious shoreline nutrient sources, but it is in the vicinity of the South Essex Sewerage District Wastewater Facility (SESD) outfall pipe (red dot), located near Great Haste Island, off the coast of Beverly.