Government Shutdown Pulls Plug on Public Access to Ocean Data

Beach with caution tape across entrance

Photo: John Loo via Flickr

As the federal government closes down today—including vast portions of the agencies that help study and protect our ocean—the impacts are quickly being felt far beyond just the federal employees that are being sent home.

Non-government scientists, academics, state and local officials, and even schoolchildren who rely on ocean data provided by the government will find that many of the websites that deliver this valuable information have now been taken down.

In fact, if you try to go to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website right now, you’ll get a message saying, “Due to the federal government shutdown, and most associated websites are unavailable.”

Want to access ocean data from the Integrated Ocean Observing System? Too bad.

Looking to access some of the science done by the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research? Nice try.

Need to find data from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System? Yeah, right.

Searching for information on your local National Marine Sanctuary? Tough luck.

Have an inkling to look up some climate information? Not gonna happen.

Lacking the employees, tech support and funding to maintain the government’s websites, only the sites that convey information necessary to protect life and property will be maintained during the shutdown.

So while you can still access weather data, nautical charts, information on tides and currents, and some limited oceanographic information for ports and shipping, much of the rest of the ocean and fisheries data that NOAA provides will be taken down either in part or in full.

A few sites, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Environmental Satellite Data Information System may still allow access to old data but won’t be updating their websites with new information. For much of the rest of NOAA, entire websites—both new and old data—will be completely taken down.

Far beyond just impacting federal employees, the shutdown is cutting off everyone’s access to important ocean data and information. This hurts folks from our nation’s top ocean scientists in universities who need that data to do critical research all the way down to a first-grader who might use NOAA’s websites and educational materials to write a report on dolphins or sea otters.

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  1. It won’t likely impact fishery management too much, since most of the data used to determine quota’s is computer generated or pulled out of a hat. Time to put these resources into state hands anyway, since the Fed’s are influenced too much by extreme special interest groups, and especially the eNGO’s.

  2. As a student currently doing research and restoration at the GTM National estuarine research reserve, I find this very disheartening.

  3. some times it just too much to bare, when you go to the shore do something for that place, pick up the trash, even the smallest things like plastic and batteries make a difference: imagine if everyone world wide did this. Zero impact from here on out.

  4. I hope all that will never happen again. These politics, on both sides, should be more responsible. It is not a simple job to be a politic. It is not dust cleaning or housewife chore – it effects billions. I really don’t like politicians.

  5. Website updated! We can help with this by testing on a regular basis to see where changes can be made.  We can also help with day to day tasks such as graphic updates and data entry.