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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rest, recharge, and reloading for leg TWO

by Jacob Asher
We pulled into Pearl Harbor for a short import of one night, disembarking a handful of scientists for the last time on this RAMP cruise, while others scheduled to return for a final series of dive surveys around O'ahu, Kaua'i, and Ni'ihau.  The cruise really hasn’t been out on the water for all that long…we only left on the 7th of October!  However, we’ve already packed in 17 dive days with one day of rest.  Multiplying the number of dives between all teams combined gives us a staggering number: without accounting for the last two days, we’ve tallied over 728 dives onboard, tens of kilometers surveyed with towed-diver teams, 51 REA sites and 107 fish sites surveyed, numerous water samples collected for dissolved inorganic carbon and microbial analysis, dozens of CTDs deployed, and ARMS arrays recovered/re-deployed.  Folks worked hard, and were excited at the prospect of getting a bit of rest in town, back with friends, loved ones, with all the creature comforts of home.

There will be some personnel coming off, and several others coming onboard for the last push, leaving on Wednesday the 26th and heading straight to Kaua'i.  Some folks are old salts, spending time on several RAMP cruises this year, while a handful of scientists will be newcomers, bringing in new perspectives and an infusion of excitement and experience levels.  With work remaining on O'ahu, Kaua'i, and Ni'ihau, it’ll be an amazing, albeit challenging, 10 more days before the cruise wraps up.  Stay tuned for more episodes and blog posts!

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