ABSTRACT

During 1975, the Bureau of Land Management initiated an extensive study of the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf area off the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. The benchmark or baseline portion of the study is being conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The first year studies included extensive hydrocarbon and trace metal analysis of bottom sediments, benthos, zooplankton, neuston and suspended sediments. In addition, studies of the benthic biota, including community dynamics, histopathology and bacteria populations were included, with supporting physical, chemical and geologic information. Two special studies were included in the benchmark studies, an extension of the Virginian Sea Wave Climate Uode1 and a study of the rates of degradation of mixed cultures of naturally occurring bacteria from sediments and surface waters from the region. The second year studies at VIMS, which began with field sampling in November 1976, are essentially continuations of the first year studies with expanded water column studies and the addition of special studies. New special .studies include a historical analysis of nekton communities, a recolonization study to determine rates of recolonizing benthic organisms, and a food habits study of benthic populations. The first year wave climate model is also being refined. Principal findings of the first year's benchmark studies are presented in this report. In addition to the program funded at VIMS, BLM-sponsored mid-Atlantic studies are being done by the U. S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

INTRODUCTION

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) U. S. Department of Interior initiated an Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Environmental Studies Program in 1973 designed to determine the impact of OCS oil and gas, exploration development and production activities and to provide, where possible, additional data to enhance the quality of Department of Interior decisions on OCS management.1

In November 1975, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) under contract to BLM began the first of the seasonal Chemical-Biological Benchmark sampling cruises in the mid-Atlantic region. The first year benchmark studies included extensive hydrocarbon and trace metal analysis of bottom sediments, benthos, zooplankton, neuston and suspended sediments. In addition, studies of the benthic biota, including community dynamics, histopathology and bacteria populations are included. Supportive physical, chemical and geologic information was included in the study.

In addition to the benchmark studies, first year efforts by VIMS included two special studies, an extension of the Virginian Sea Wave Climate Mode12 to include the area from Montauk Point, Long Island to Cape Henlopen, Delaware and a study of the rates of degradation of mixed cultures of naturally occurring bacteria from sediments and surface waters from the region.

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