** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

#07-197 July 16, 2007

Marine Resources Library presents Smithsonian coastal chart exhibit

Every day, cruise ships sail from Miami; coal ships deliver to power plants along the shores of the Great Lakes; crabbing boats harvest Alaskan king crab in the Bering Sea; and weekenders prepare their boats for leisurely afternoons on the Chesapeake Bay. Each one of these mariners uses the resources of NOAA’s Navigation Services to safely navigate U.S. coastal waters.

In recognition of this landmark 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Survey of the Coast, NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) have created the exhibit, "From Sea to Shining Sea: 200 Years of Charting America’s Coasts," which recently opened at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Marine Resources Library in Charleston. The exhibit will be on display until Aug. 20.

The library, housed at the DNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute facility located at 217 Fort Johnson Road in Charleston, is open to the public during regular business hours Monday throughNOAA photo - 1921 Alaskan coastal survey Friday. In addition to being open to the Charleston marine community, the library serves as a resource for research needs at DNR, as well as with the federal laboratories at the Fort Johnson complex—the Coastal Center for Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research and the Hollings Marine Laboratory. Graduate and undergraduate marine biology programs at the College of Charleston also benefit from the resources offered through the library. Helen Ivy, Marine Resources librarian, said: "All of these researchers benefit from the findings of the coast survey that are showcased in the poster exhibit. The exhibit provides the opportunity for all to see what has been done over the past 200 years to produce the coast survey that researchers and mariners use today."

In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson recognized the need to chart the coastal waters of this country as vital to the independence and prosperity of the economy and to the security of this fledgling Nation. With his foresight, Jefferson compelled Congress to pass an Act establishing "the Survey of the Coast," a predecessor agency of today’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Survey of the Coast charted the nation’s ports and waterways, researched physical characteristics of the ocean bottom, and explored many of the world’s oceans. The organization was known for a tradition of perseverance, scientific integrity, engraving and charting skills, and courage.

This exhibit, which will be shown in maritime museums, ports, aquaria, nature centers, schools, libraries and lighthouses, celebrates the history, accomplishments and scientific contributions of the nation’s first science agency. The 20 colorful posters are illustrated with photos, charts and artwork from the Survey’s archives.

"This year we are proud to be holding a year-long celebration of 200 years of science, service, and stewardship to the nation originating with the Survey of the Coast," said Capt. Steven R. Barnum, director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey, which is one of the four offices that continues to carry out the original agency's mission. "We are honored that our partnership with the Smithsonian Institution has produced this vibrant depiction of our history to help us commemorate this distinguished occasion."

Today, waterborne commerce remains the backbone of the U.S. economy, contributing more than 13 million jobs and $1 trillion annually. In the past two centuries, the Survey has mapped more than 95,000 miles of coastline, produced more than 20,000 nautical maps and charts, installed more than 6,000 tide stations, helped predict the movement of oil spills, established the Pacific Tsunami Warning System and maintained the national network of more than 1,000 GPS reference sites. Though the methods have changed throughout time, Jefferson’s legacy lives on in NOAA’s navigation services as they continue to benefit safety, national security and economic competitiveness.

An agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems, NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects. "From Sea from Sea to Shining Sea" is part of a series of anniversary events sponsored by NOAA. Also see NOAA Celebrates 200 Years.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

More News