By Bernardo Vargas-Ángel
Members of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) recently concluded a two-week deployment on O`ahu, where they conducted surveys of coral reef ecosystems as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) in the main Hawaiian Islands. These shore-based operations (PIFSC small-boat mission SB-13-20) augment the surveys undertaken during the PIFSC research cruise HA-13-04 aboard the NOAA Ship Hi`ialakai, marking the completion of the fifth such research effort by PIFSC in the main Hawaiian Islands. Pacific RAMP, part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, is designed to provide a consistent, comparable flow of information to document and report the status and trends of the environmental conditions and living resources of the nation’s coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific.
During the SB-13-20 mission on Oct. 18–Nov. 6, scuba divers conducted Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs), focusing on the acquisition of data to derive estimates of diversity, relative abundance, biomass, and size-class structure of reef fishes and corals. Divers from the CRED instrumentation team collected data on water temperature, salinity, carbonate chemistry, and other physical characteristics of the reef environment with an assortment of oceanographic monitoring instruments. They also collected water samples and deployed autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) to assess the taxonomic diversity of cryptic invertebrate species on coral reefs and arrays of calcification accretion units (CAUs) and bioerosion monitoring units (BMUs) to assess the effects of ocean acidification on rates of reef carbonate deposition.
Data collected by the scientific staff of this mission contribute to information that provides the scientific basis necessary for sound management of the marine resources of coral reef ecosystems in the main Hawaiian Islands.