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, September 23, 2010

We’re out of coffee?

By Frank Mancini

Howzit blog followers?! I struggled with what to write about for more than a few days. Truthfully, I attempted to avoid blogging all together. Playing dead, running away (but the ship is only 224 feet long) and acting like I didn’t speak English all failed. Finally some increasingly less friendly reminders from my coworkers and a single blank spot on the blog calendar for over a week forced me to cave and jot down my name.

Last week an announcement was made at our morning meeting that at our current consumption rate of one bag of coffee per day, we were 5 days away from being completely tapped out and more than two weeks from getting back home. For some, this was no big deal. For me and my fellow coffee junkies, this was like a kick to…yeah.
This is what happens when oceanography team member Frank Mancini, goes without his cup of joe.
My initial reactions were: What am I going to do to wake up in the morning? Do I give in and switch to tea? Not likely. Do I go cold turkey and suck it up? Probably a bad idea seeing that I am arguably one of the grumpiest morning people presently on this ship. Ask any of my friends, family members or coworkers. They’ll all agree. There is a visiting scientist on this cruise that is seriously challenging my crown though. I tip my hat to you and welcome the competition.
Divers Erin Looney and Hailey Ramey enjoy the last few minutes of breakfast in the aft mess chatting with Chief Cook Lydell Reed and Doc Joe Harris before heading out for another day of diving at Lisianski.
Anyway it got me thinking, as I savored one of the last hot cups of joe that would cross my lips for weeks to come, that this is one of those situations that is unique to the kind of work we do. Sure we have run out of fruits and vegetables plenty of times…no problem, I’ll go to the farmer’s market when I get home. I’ve seen the ice cream bin empty one week into a 2 month cruise, whatever, no need. But coffee? Come on! Even prisoners get coffee!!

Maybe your favorite neighborhood coffee shop is closed for renovations for a few days and you are forced to go to the mega-chain on every corner for your morning fix. Ok. One cup hopefully won’t kill the rainforest. Your caffeine need is satiated and you are off to continue your day. Aboard a ship 1000+ miles from the nearest city, alternate options like that don’t exist.
Just another day at the office!
I know when you read our blogs and see our photos, our work looks and sounds pretty incredible (and I have to admit, a lot of times it is), but running out of coffee is just one example (obviously a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things) of shipboard life that might not come to mind when you see what we do.
Frank Mancini, hard at work deploying a subsurface temperature recorder.

Thankfully a few days later another case of coffee was found in the stores and the potential mutiny was squashed. I cannot say that I am getting any less grumpy in morning, but at least my mug is full and my hand is warm while I watch the sun rise out of the ocean each morning with one bleary eye open.


  1. Kind of refreshing to see that your "young author" writing skills are still intact and an opportunity for us non scientists to relate to one of the drawbacks to life at sea. For all you on board this is Frank at his best, likes to make reading about mundane stuff like coffee interesting,fun to be around and full of life. Its what makes him entertaining to be around, boy do I know first hand!

    What you all are seeing and doing drives us outsiders with envy and thoughts of, "man I would give anything to do what you do". For me being on your ship would be second only to visiting the International Space station.

    I wish you calm seas and great scenery.

    A bag of Kona awaits your return. Frank M Jr.

  2. Almost had a serious situation on your hands there! I would gladly give up my coffee for a new surfboard. DAMN YOU EARL!!!

  3. Keep the humor coming, it certainly makes life a lot easier!!..Keep safe and continue flapping your flippers..LOL

  4. Ahhhahahhaaaa, SOMEONE GET THAT MAN SOME COFFEE OR ELSE THERE MAY BE MUTINY ABOARD THE SHIP!!! Ahhaaha, this makes me laugh and laugh.