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 21, 2009

Where are we anyway??

contributed by Cristi Richards

You might be wondering, after 9 days at sea and not hearing anything about diving, where exactly in the world are we. Well, a good guess would in the Pacific but if you would like to know more specifics, we are ~ 2200 miles west of Honolulu. We have about 100 more miles to go before we arrive at Wake sometime tonight and begin our dive operations tomorrow morning. If the weather holds, we will be spending the next 5 days at Wake before transiting 1500 miles southwest to Guam. There we will get a few days on land and a change of the science crew before starting our dive surveys around Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. We are excited to get in the water tomorrow and are hoping that it will be calm enough to launch small boats in the morning. So far the forecast is for a 15 foot swell but we'll see what tomorrow brings. Wish us luck and good dive sites.

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