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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting ready to go

As our date of departure draws closer, each of the research teams is hurrying to finish their final preparations, organize their equipment and get it loaded aboard the Hi'ialakai. A steady stream of crates, pallets, Action packers, Pelican Cases, and 5-gallon buckets can be seem making their way from laboratories, to pickup trucks and then up the gangway and into the ship. Fuel trucks pass to and fro, cranes are lifting the heavy equipment from the pier to the ship, and the electronics technicians are running the last of the cables to connect the various computers and other pieces of equipment used to collect a variety of different measurements while we are underway.  Piles of equipment appear in various locations and then disappear almost as quickly as they appeared.  There is a constant flurry of activity and it looks like we might just get underway as scheduled.

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