Scientists working for the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) returned to Honolulu today to conclude three weeks of activities in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. They recovered instrumentation and collected water samples and coral cores as part of a collaborative project that was initiated in 2009 by CRED, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, The Nature Conservancy, and local community partners to provide information to improve ecosystem-based management and conservation in the face of climate change and ocean acidification.
Over the period of Sept. 6–19, Kerry Reardon, Danny Merritt, and Molly Timmers conducted work in the marine protected areas of Kimbe Bay to recover a sea-surface temperature (SST) buoy, 10 subsurface temperature recorders (STRs), an ecological acoustic recorder (EAR), and 9 autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) that were deployed in 2009. In addition, they deployed 15 calcification accretion units (CAUs) and collected coral cores to establish baseline calcification and accretion rates of reef-building corals and crustose coralline algae. They also collected water samples for analysis of carbonate chemistry and took photos of the seafloor for later analysis of benthic composition.
Temperature data from the SST buoy and STR deployed in Kimbe Bay will be used to validate and improve the Coral Reef Watch satellite-derived coral bleaching alert tools. Data from the SST buoy in Kimbe Bay are available here. The retrieved EAR recorded ambient sound while it was deployed, and the acoustic data from it will be analyzed to characterize the activities of marine organisms and humans at Vanessa Reef and its surrounding waters.
ARMS mimic the structural complexity of coral reefs to attract and collect colonizing invertebrates and provide a systematic, consistent, and comparable method to monitor cryptic reef diversity. The ARMS that were deployed at Kimbe Bay will establish baseline indices of cryptofauna biodiversity that can be compared with results from other ARMS deployments from around the globe and provide an understanding of spatial patterns of coral reef biodiversity.
Kimbe Bay is situated on the volcanic island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in the Coral Triangle. Located along the equator where the western Pacific Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, the Coral Triangle is the center of global reef biodiversity, comprising 53% of the world’s coral reefs and hosting 75% of known coral species and 50% of known reef fish species. An estimated 120 million persons live within the Coral Triangle region, and the marine resources there sustain livelihoods and provide food and income for coastal communities. With the support of local leaders, including the governor of the West New Britain province, The Nature Conservancy has been working in this area to establish a network of marine protected areas.
Funding for this mission was provided by NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, with considerable logistical and operational support provided by The Nature Conservancy and the Walindi Plantation Resort of Kimbe Bay.