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.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Palmyra undwater

We've spent the past 7 days conducting surveys and retrieving/deploying oceanographic instruments in the waters around Palmyra Atoll. Here are a few photos from below the water's surface:

The soft coral, Sarcophyton sp.

Scientist Nichole Price conducts a Line
Point Intercept survey.

Oceanographer Jamison Gove installs an Acoustic Doppler
Profiler and subsurface temperature recorders.

Layers and layers of corals!

Sea slug (Elysia ornata).

The camouflage grouper (Epinephelus polyphekadion).

Oceanographers Chip Young and Danny Merritt
retrieve the Remote Automatic Sampler.

Threadfin butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga) swimming
over a carpet of invasive corallimorphs (Rhodactis howesii).

An Acropora sp. thicket in the coral gardens of Palmyra.

A school of convict tangs (Acanthurus triostegus) swoop in
to mow the algal lawns on this section of reef.

An interesting and unusual formation of Acropora sp.

Acropora sp. tables found on the western terrace.

A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) cruising near the coral gardens.

A curious Twin-spot Snapper (Lutjanus bohar) comes in for a closer look
while oceanographer Jamison Gove installs a subsurface temperature recorder in the background.

A Napoleon Wrass (Cheilinus undulatus) swims by.

Here are a few of the critters we have found within the Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures around Palmyra:

A swimmer crab (family Portunidae).

A spaghetti worm (family Terebellidae).

A money cowrie (Cyprae moneta).

A fire worm (family Amphimonidae)

A snapping shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

We have seen many interesting animals,both large and small, here at Palmyra Atoll. While always interesting it is time for us to continue on to the final destination of this expedition: Kingman Reef.

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