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 27, 2010

Goodbye to Amercian Samoa

by Jamison Gove
The Hi'ialakai heads to Jarvis Island
After spending nearly six weeks conducting coral reef research in and around American Samoa, the day has finally arrived to say our goodbyes to the island of Tutuila. With all twenty-two scientists and twenty-five crew members aboard, the Hi′ialakai cast off her lines from the pier early this morning and made a slow and steady departure out of Pago Pago, gently swaying back and forth as we emerged from the quiescent harbor and into the rolling seas of the open ocean. Heading northeast, we’ve now begun the five day journey to Jarvis Island, our first destination of the third and final leg of this expedition. These next few days will be filled with safety drills, scientific planning meetings, trainings, and gear preparation in anticipation for our arrival to Jarvis.

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