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NOAA News Releases 2004
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Funding to Construct Center for Marine Education and Research in Gulfport, Miss.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a $2,718,359 grant to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Inc. to fund the construction of a marine mammal research, rescue and rehabilitation facility in Gulfport, Miss. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The NOAA grant continues funding from 2003 to the IMMS for the construction of the Center for Marine Education and Research. The approximately 12,000 square foot center will provide a place for research and a facility for the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals in the Mississippi-Alabama-Louisiana region of the north central Gulf of Mexico. A combination of single story buildings will provide wet and dry laboratories, veterinary care facilities, observation and classroom areas, museum storage and administrative support areas. The studies conducted at the center will help provide answers to many unanswered questions regarding the health of the region’s dolphin populations.

“This facility will improve marine mammal research and rehabilitation efforts in the Central Gulf,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA and the Bush Administration are working to improve the understanding of our environment and to strengthen local and regional initiatives like those run by the Center for Marine Mammal Studies.”

Congress appropriated funds for construction in fiscal year 2003. That year NOAA awarded $2,423,000 to IMMS to begin the project. The research facility will support and accommodate research consistent with the Marine Mammal Protection Act on marine animals, both wild and in captivity, with emphasis on marine mammals, dolphins in particular.

Each year NOAA awards approximately $900 million in grants to members of the academic, scientific and business communities to assist the agency in fulfilling its mission to study the Earth’s natural systems in order to predict environmental change, manage ocean resources, protect life and property, and provide decision makers with reliable scientific information. NOAA’s goals and programs reflect a commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 34 years.

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