A Better Understanding of Coral Reef Ecosystems

Pelagic predators such as these barracuda, Sphyraena qenie, are part of the coral reef ecosystem in the U.S. Line Islands (NOAA Photo by Kevin Lino).
A team of scientists have embarked from Hawai'i on a three-month survey of coral reef ecosystems at Johnston Atoll, the U.S. Phoenix Islands, the islands of American Samoa, and the U.S. Line Islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The overarching objective is to better understand the coral reef ecosystems of these areas, many of which are seldom explored. The research expedition is part of a regular monitoring program, conducted by the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED), headquartered in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The expedition is supported by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and involves extensive cooperation among NOAA scientists and research partners, including the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego State University, and the Papahānaumaokuākea Marine National Monument.

The research expedition will be carried out from February 27 to May 24, 2012 aboard the NOAA ship Hi'ialakai. Under the leadership of Chief Scientists Dr. Jill Zamzow, Dr. Bernardo Vargas-Angél, and Jamison Gove, a diverse team of researchers will be conducting multidisciplinary coral reef ecosystem surveys, assessing the status of fishes, corals, algae, marine invertebrates, and the oceanographic conditions in which these organisms exist. The scientific data collected during the three-month research expedition will enable informed and effective implementation of ecosystem-based management and conservation strategies for coral reef ecosystems, helping to ensure their protection for generations to come.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Coral and Giant Clams

photos: Stephanie Schopmeyer and Kerry Grimshaw

The past few days at Wake have been spectacular. The coral cover has been outstanding with many species we do not see back in Hawaii. The Bumphead parrotfish have been our constant companions. Diving has been fun but busy with the identification and counting of corals, algae, fish, and invertebrates.
The diving on the north side of the island was challenging but conditions improved along the east and south coasts which was nice as we didn't have to spend quite so much of the dive simply keeping our transect lines from getting tangled. Couple that with counting, measuring, assessing, keeping track of gauges and tank pressure and it's sometimes enough to make one's head spin. But ... we wouldn't trade it for anything.
It's sometimes nice to crawl into your bunk at the end of a full day of diving, knowing that no matter how much the ship might roll, you will have no trouble falling asleep almost before your head hits the pillow.
And every once-in-a-while you are rewarded with calm days, light currents and the chance to just hang in the water column on your safety stop for a while, marveling at all the wonders around you. Oh, and the giant clams certainly don't detract from that experience ...
We have another day or so here at Wake before we start our 6 day transit to Guam where we will have a few days of rest, will conduct some calibration dives, and will switch out some of the science party.

No comments:

Post a Comment