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, April 21, 2011

A day of rest

by Jake Asher

Supply Reef, an active submarine volcano, was mostly a rest day for all teams, except for one.  The oceanography team set out at Supply Reef to recover a salinity and temperature recorder, along with an old wave and tide recorder anchor.  While shark sightings have been uncommon at all our other stops aside from the occasional whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) and small grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), Supply had a few greys that were larger than what we had seen to date.
A grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, at home amongst a school of Caesio teres. NOAA photo by Oliver Vetter.
Including some that were more “friendly” than others!
A grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, getting up close and personal!  NOAA photo by Oliver Vetter.

Needless to say, divers recovered their equipment, snapped photos, paid respects to the locals, and completed their operations safely.
A barred filefish (Cantherhines dumerilii). NOAA photo by Oliver Vetter.
Meanwhile, the rest of the scientific staff enjoyed a much needed day off after 10 straight days in a row of dive operations. Not to worry though, the oceanography team, while they were busy prepping for ops at Supply, still enjoyed a day off from dive operations on the previous day. The favorite activity aboard the ship on days off?  Trying to make up for all those lost zzz's.

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