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.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami update: Headed to Laysan Island

by Ben Richards

We receive BBC world service aboard the Hi'ialakai and watched in awe and sadness as the news of the Sendai earthquake started to come over the airwaves. Being far out to sea and in deep water, we are safe from the effects of a tsunami, but many aboard have family and friends in Japan, Hawaii, and elsewhere around the Pacific. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all those who have been devastated by these recent events.

Monk Seal camp at Laysan Island
At present we have been diverted from our course to Wake Atoll to assist with the evacuation of NOAA and US Fish and Wildlife Service personnel currently on Laysan Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  All of the researchers on Laysan are accounted for; however, their camp was inundated with water stemming from the tsunami, causing their supplies of food and fresh water to be compromised. We should arrive at Laysan on March 14 to begin the evacuation and transportation of the field scientists to Midway Atoll, from there they will return to Honolulu. If all goes well, we will then continue to Wake Island to conduct a somewhat abbreviated set of surveys.

1 comment:

  1. Very appreciative! My daughter is on Laysan.....say hi to her....Erin Pickett!