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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ocean sounds

By Polly Fisher-Pool

Do you ever wonder what makes snap, crackle, pop underwater? The culprits are thousands of tiny snapping shrimp; they create a cavitation bubble by closing their enlarged claw and use the acoustic wave to stun their prey.
Alpheid sp. (snapping shrimp) collected on an Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure (ARMS). NOAA Photo by M. Timmers.
That is just one amongst the myriad of sounds that can be heard underwater. A well known sound producer is the Humpback whale. Humpbacks come to Hawaii to breed and calf during the winter season. Word through the grapevine is that this year’s first whales were sighted recently.
(by clicking on this link you will be redirected to a page with the soundfile)
Humpback whale song recorded by an EAR.

Other, lesser known signal producers may be swimming in your tank at home. There are ~700 known species of sound producing fish species, although this is a relatively new field of study and sounds are still being documented. Dr. Tricas and his lab at University of Hawaii at Manoa use the Ecological Acoustic Recorders (EARs) and video to record behaviorally relevant sounds produced by Hawaiian fish species.

(by clicking on this link you will be redirected to a page with the soundfile) 
Unknown fish sound recorded by an EAR.

CRED uses the EAR, an autonomous non-intrusive tool to record acoustic data on coral reef biological activity. There are a total of 12 EARs currently deployed within the main Hawaiian Islands. So far, during this cruise we have retrieved 3 of these recorders and replaced them with new ones to continue acoustic data collection.
Divers Polly Fisher-Pool and Oliver Vetter replace an EAR on the island of Hawaii for continuous acoustic monitoring. NOAA Photo by F. Mancini.

Each recovered dataset provides new and exciting sound files. We will listen to what our main Hawaiian EARs heard once we get back to land.
For more information on EARs visit:  http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/ear.php

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