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, May 12, 2012

From Jarvis Island to Kingman Reef

by Jamison Gove
Scientists Chip Young (left) and Jamison Gove (right), taking it all in at Kingman Reef
We  have arrived to Kingman Reef, our second stop of the research expedition. Kingman Reef is the northernmost point of the Line Islands, located nearly halfway between American Samoa and Hawaii (~1100 miles). Kingman is a triangular shaped atoll that is mostly submerged with the exception of a few small patches of sand. The coral reef ecosystem at Kingman supports a diverse array of marine life, including an abundance of giant clams and nearly 130 species of corals. As with Jarvis, apex predators are dominate at Kingman.
A manta ray moves gracefully along at Kingman Reef
We'll be diving and conducting coral reef research at Kingman for a total of five days. Check back in for stories and photos of our discoveries in the coming days.

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