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.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A little more about Wake and its history...

A brief history lesson about the Battle of Wake Island courtesy of Wikipedia:

On December 8, 1941, the same day as the Attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake being on the opposite side of the International Date Line), at least 27 Japanese medium "Nell" bombers flown from bases on Kwajelein in the Marshall Island group attacked Wake Island, destroying eight of the 12 F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft belonging to Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-211 on the ground. All of the Marine garrison's defensive emplacements were left intact by the raid, which primarily targeted the aircraft.

The garrison — supplemented by civilian volunteers — repelled several Japanese landing attempts. The garrison was eventually overwhelmed by the numerically superior Japanese invasion force (on December 23rd, 1941). American casualties were 52 military personnel and approximately 70 civilians killed. Japanese losses exceeded 700 killed, in addition, the Japanese lost two destroyers, one submarine and 24 aircraft.

In the aftermath of the battle, most of the captured civilians and military personnel were sent to POW camps in Asia, while some of the civilian laborers were pressed into service by the Japanese and tasked with improving the island's defenses.

The Japanese-occupied island (called Otori-Shima or "Bird Island" for its birdlike shape) was bombed several times by American air forces. After a successful American air raid on October 5, 1943, (fearing American occupation was imminent) the Japanese garrison ordered the execution of the 98 captured American civilian forced laborers remaining on the island. They were taken to the northern end of the island, blindfolded and machine-gunned. One of the prisoners escaped the massacre, carving the message 98 US PW 5-10-43 on a large coral rock near where the victims had been hastily buried in a mass grave. The unknown American was recaptured and beheaded. After the war, Sakaibara and his subordinate, Lt. Cmdr. Tachibana, were sentenced to death for this and other war crimes. The murdered civilian POWs were reburied in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.

On September 4, 1945, the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered to a detachment of the United States Marine Corps. In a brief ceremony, the handover of Wake was officially conducted.

S0, Wake Island has the distinction of being the only time defenders were able to prevent a Japanese landing during World War II. Some 1600 civilian construction workers and servicemen were on the island and attacked within minutes of the Pearl Harbor attack by Kwajalein-based bombers. On December 11, the defenders used their World War I issue 5-inch guns to successfully repel a landing force and damage three cruisers and a destroyer. By December 23rd, however, the island had been bombed and shelled for 12 days. The 2nd landing attempt simply overwhelmed the island defenders.

Now, as we travel around the Pacific to these little dots of land (just big enough to have landing strips) that were so important in WWII, the history begins to fall into place in my head. We all know about Dec. 7th and Pearl Harbor. But do we ever think about all the other places around the Pacific that were attacked by the Japanese the very same day (accounting for the date line)? Also attacked December 7/8, 1941: Midway, Wake Island, Guam, the Philippines, Malaya, Thailand, and Shanghai. Quite the offensive...

Guam is our next stop.

1 comment:

  1. This comment is to anyone who has been on Wake.I have been a student on the history of Wake for some time.As a 28 year civilian Navy man I am inspired by the actions of the Marines,Navy and civilian personnel on Wake. I believe the the 98 Rock should be relocated to the Punch Bowl in Hawaii with the 98 where it can be sheltered and protected.The tide rain and typhoons will eventually cause it the deteriorate.Does anyone who has been to Wake and seen the Rock aggree with me? tomb12345@live.com