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Benthic currents at three nearshore sites near Point Lena and Auke Bay, Alaska
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  • Description:
    Benthic water currents were measured with current meters at the proposed locations of three nearshore development projects near Auke Bay, Alaska. Currents at the discharge site of a proposed seafood processing facility in Auke Nu Cove were generally weak and of insufficient magnitude to disperse seafood waste on the seafloor. Mean current velocity was 2.15 cm s-1during spring and 3.26 cm s-1 during winter. Net flow was west-northwest in spring and virtually adirectional in winter. Currents at this site were not related to tidal fluctuations, but benthic current maxima in spring were coincident with storm events. Mean benthic currents at the site of an intake for a proposed fisheries research facility near Point Lena were stronger during summer (5.72 cm s-1) than winter (3.10 cm s-1) and were strongly related to tidal fluctuations during both seasons. Point Lena currents were not related to storm events or to discharge of a nearby large, glacial river. Direction of currents at this site changed seasonally; currents were mostly unidirectional to the south-southeast during summer but mostly bidirectional during winter. Benthic currents measured during summer at the site of a treated sewage outfall for a proposed residential development were bidirectional and predominately to the north-northwest. Currents were weak (2.52 cm s-1), tidally influenced, and not related to storm events or stream discharge. Large differences in the magnitude and direction of currents at the three nearby sites highlight the importance of using empirical data to assess the appropriateness of receiving waters and importance of using empirical data to assess the appropriateness of receiving waters and surrounding seafloor habitat for solid waste or wastewater disposal.
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