Well, we are nearing the end of our return transit to Honolulu and are on schedule to pull into Pearl Harbor tomorrow morning. During 15 days of in-water operations on this expedition, favorable weather allowed the scientific party to safely and comfortably conduct a total of 768 SCUBA dives, documenting the coral reef biota, habitats and oceanographic parameters of the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
We have but one more quick stop to make today at a location known as “Five Fathom Pinnacle,” approximately 25 miles west-southwest of the island of Ni`ihau, where the Oceanography Team will conduct one last dive to swap out an Ecological Acoustic Recorder (EAR).
An EAR is an instrument that sits on the ocean floor and records ambient sounds as a way to characterize the presence and activity of sound-producing marine organisms on the coral reefs and in surrounding waters. The recorder is also well suited for monitoring human activities on the reef. The noise produced by anthropogenic sources, such as boat engines and anchor chains, is also captured along with naturally occurring sounds. To learn more about the EAR and passive acoustic monitoring of coral reef ecosystems visit http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/ear.php
An Ecological Acoustic Recorder (EAR) rests on the seafloor and records ambient sounds.
Over these last transit days, the scientists have been busily entering and checking their data and pulling together the bits and pieces that will comprise the official cruise report. Equipment has been cleaned and dried, offloading and refueling arrangements have been made, and preparations for the next cruise are being finalized.
In just one week after our return to Honolulu, the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division’s next research cruise as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program will begin. The 30-day expedition will study the coral reef biota and habitats in the main Hawaiian Islands. During the brief time the ship is in port, the small boats will be serviced and necessary repairs will be made, scientific equipment will be added, the ship will be re-provisioned, and a new compliment of scientists will prepare to embark on their journey through the ‘Main 8’ (though 1/3 of the scientists currently aboard will actually be departing on the next cruise as well).
Thank you for following along with us on this mission to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and be sure to check back on this website to follow along with the next compliment of scientists as they embark on the next cruise beginning October 7, 2010.