What happens to reef fish after coral bleaching?

by Adel Heenan

For the past month, researchers aboard the NOAA Ship Hi‘ialakai have been navigating across the Pacific Ocean to survey coral reef ecosystems at remote Wake Atoll and the Mariana Archipelago. This expedition includes additional surveys at Jarvis Island, in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, to assess the reef condition and degree of recovery from a catastrophic coral bleaching event in 2014-2015.


Jarvis Island is located in the central Pacific Ocean, close to the equator, and is a small island in the direct path of a deep current that flows east (Figure 1). Because of it’s position right on the equator and the strong currents hitting the island, Jarvis sits in the middle of a major upwelling zone—where cold nutrient rich water is drawn up from the deep. This water fertilizes the whole area, elevating nutrient levels and productivity in the reef ecosystem (Gove et al., 2006). As a result, Jarvis supports exceptionally high biomass of planktivorous and piscivorous fishes (Williams et al., 2015).

Because it is unpopulated and extremely remote, Jarvis provides an important reference point and opportunity to understand the natural structure, function, and variation in coral reef ecosystems. The island also offers a natural laboratory in which the effects of ocean warming can be assessed in the absence of stressors that impact coral reefs where humans are present (e.g., fishing or land-based sources of pollution).

El Niño, La Niña and the global coral bleaching event of 2014-2015
The Equatorial Pacific upwelling at Jarvis alternates between warm El Niño years, when upwelling is weak and oceanic productivity low, and cold La Niña years where upwelling is strong and productivity is high (Gove et al., 2006). Unusually warm sea surface temperatures, and a strong El Niño in 2014-2015, triggered the third recorded global coral bleaching event. At Jarvis, these warmer waters led to widespread coral bleaching and mortality. High sea surface temperatures in 2015 also impacted upwelling at Jarvis, as evidenced by a decrease in the primary productivity around the island.

Teams from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program recently completed ecological monitoring at Jarvis from April 2–5, 2017. They collected data at 28 stationary point count sites (Figure 2) this year, 30 in 2016, 62 in 2015, 42 in 2012, and 30 in 2010.

FIG2_SPC

Figure 2. The stationary point count method is used to monitor the fish assemblage and benthic communities at the Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) sites.

Main Observations
Fish biomass tended to be highest on the western side of the island where equatorial upwelling occurs (Figure 3). In 2016, we observed somewhat reduced total fish and total planktivore biomass (Figure 4), but this reduction was within the normal range of observed variability.

There were some significant reductions observed for individual species in 2016. These reductions were noticeable across multiple trophic groups, for instance the planktivorous Whitley’s fusilier (Luzonichthys whitleyi), Olive anthias (Pseudanthias olivaceus), Dark-banded fusilier (Pterocaesio tile), the piscivorous Island trevally (Carangoides orthogrammus), and the coral-dwelling Arc-eyed hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) which is strongly associated with Pocillopora coral heads. Some of these species had returned to previous ranges by 2017, but others remain depleted (Figure 5).

FIG5_FishBiomass

Figure 5. Mean species biomass (± standard error) per survey year at Jarvis.

Very high levels of coral mortality were evident in 2016 surveys and coral cover remained low in 2017. Notably, macroalgal cover increased in 2017, approximately by the amount of coral cover lost in 2016 (Figure 6).

FIG6_PercentCover

Figure 6. Mean percentage cover estimates (± standard error) of benthic habitat per survey year at Jarvis. Data shown for Hard Coral (top, red); macrolagae (middle, green) and CCA: crustose coralline algae (bottom, orange). Note: no benthic data are available for 2008 as we began collected rapid visual estimates of these benthic functional groups in 2010.

Whether this reduction in specific planktivore, piscivore, and live coral-dwelling fish species is a widespread and long-standing shift in the fish assemblages at Jarvis will be the subject of forthcoming research. It seems plausible that they reflect impacts of a prolonged period of reduced food availability and changes to preferred habitat due to the anomalous warm sea conditions in 2014–2015. Our teams will return to Jarvis in 2018 to conduct another assessment in an attempt to answer some of these questions.

FIG7_shark

An emaciated grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchus) observed during a 2017 fish survey. (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Adel Heenan)

Additional detail on survey methods and sampling design are available in the full monitoring brief: Jarvis Island time trends 2008-2017.

References
Gove J. et al. (2006) Temporal variability of current-driven upwelling at Jarvis Island. J Geo Res: Oceans 111, 1-10, doi: 10.1029/2005JC003161.
Williams I. et al. (2015) Human, oceanographic and habitat drivers of central and western Pacific coral reef fish assemblages. PLoS 10: e0120516, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120516.

 

A Fish That Shapes The Reef

By Andrew E. Gray

Every three years, scientists from NOAA’s Coral Reef Ecosystem Program (CREP) visit Wake Atoll to survey corals, assess the fish populations, and collect oceanographic data for a long-term monitoring effort—the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP). Wake Atoll has clear water, healthy coral reefs, and is managed and conserved as part of the expansive U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. It has a healthy reef fish community with plentiful sharks, jacks, and groupers. As a fish research diver, it’s my kind of paradise. Sitting in the middle of the subtropical North Pacific Ocean, 1,500 miles east of Guam and about 2,300 miles southwest of Honolulu, it may be the most remote place I’ve ever been. But for me, and a few other scientists lucky enough to visit the island, there is one thing that makes Wake a special place: Bolbometopon muricatm, the Bumphead parrotfish.

Bumphead parrotfish

Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatm) at Wake Atoll (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Andrew E. Gray)

Bumphead parrotfish are an incredible and unique reef fish, differing from other parrotfish by their large size, appearance, diet, and by their ecological impact on coral reef ecosystems. There are a number of other parrotfish that sport a bump on their head, and these may be mistaken for a Bumphead parrotfish—that is until you actually see one. Bumpheads have a presence like no other fish on the reef and when they are around I can’t take my eyes off of them. The first thing I notice is their sheer size: growing to 4.2 feet long and up to a 100 pounds (that’s 130 cm and 46 kg for you scientists). Bumpheads are the world’s largest parrotfish and among the largest of all reef fish. When I get a little closer, I can’t help but focus on their incredible beaks. On coral reefs, all parrotfish species are tasked with the important job of keeping algae from overgrowing reef-building corals.

Corals chomped

Bumphead parrotfish chomp corals and help maintain the health and diversity of the reef ecosystem, Wake Atoll (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Andrew E. Gray)

Parrotfish bite and scrape algae off of rocks and dead corals with their parrot-like beaks; grind the inedible calcium carbonate (reef material made mostly of coral skeletons) which is excreted as sand back onto the reef. Larger parrotfish species can take small chunks out of the reef, removing algae and the occasional piece of coral. Bumphead parrotfish are unique in that they are continuously crunching large bites out of the reef, about half of it from live coral. In fact, that’s what they do most of the day. Bite the reef. Excrete sand. Repeat. Over the course of a year a single fish can remove over 5 tons of calcium carbonate from the reef! But by selectively eating fast growing coral species over slower growing species, they help maintain a more diverse coral reef ecosystem. Also, by munching down tons of dead corals every year each fish makes room for young corals to settle, grow and build up the reef. This means breaking down “dead reef” into sand rather than it breaking off in a storm and damaging other parts of the reef. And since Bumpheads often travel in groups, sometimes numbering into hundreds and traveling multiple kilometers in a day, this species can have quite an impact on the reef ecosystem. Bumphead parrotfish literally shape the reef.

Bumphead

Large bump on the head of a Bumphead parrotfish (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Andrew E. Gray)

Then, of course, there is the fish’s namesake, its bump. All Bumphead parrotfish sport a large protrusion on their forehead which is similar in function to a pair of horns on a bighorn sheep. The largest males have the biggest bumps and will occasionally use them as battering rams around spawning time, smashing headfirst into rivals in an attempt to show their dominance and retain territorial and breeding rights. This incredible behavior was observed by CREP scientists in 2009 and first documented and filmed by researchers at Wake in 2011. During these mating events, the parrotfish gather or aggregate around a spawning site and can number into the hundreds, an uncommon site anywhere in the world and one that I hope to see sometime at Wake.

Historically, Bumphead parrotfish were plentiful throughout much of the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea. In recent decades, fishing led to sharp declines in abundance and they are now only common in protected or very remote areas. Bumpheads have a few traits that make them particularly vulnerable to overfishing, which has led to local disappearances in many parts of their range. Bumphead parrotfish can live to be 40 years old; they do not reach sexual maturity until 5-8 years old and likely have low natural mortality as adults so there is not high natural turnover in the population. However, most detrimental to their survival in a human-dominated world is their aggregating behavior and preference for shallow water. Groups of Bumpheads could be easily netted, as they feed during the day, and at night sleeping parrotfish are easy targets for spear fishermen. With the introduction of scuba gear in the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a steep decline in Bumphead abundances as entire schools could be removed in a single night while they slept. Juvenile Bumpheads are also hard to find or study throughout much of their range and raises concerns that some adult populations are too far from juvenile habitats. This distance prevents new youngsters from entering the population to replace adults that have been caught. In areas where juveniles can be commonly found, such as Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, they are associated with mangrove, rubble, and sheltered lagoon habitats. And this is why Wake Atoll may be such a hotbed of Bumpheads.

Reef at Wake Atoll

Coral reef at Wake Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/James Morioka)

In addition to having a sizable healthy coral reef around the island, Wake Atoll has an expansive, sheltered lagoon. This may be the perfect habitat for the juvenile parrotfish and allows Wake to have a healthy, self-supplying population of Bumpheads. And since Wake is protected from fishing, it may be as close to a pristine home as the Bumphead parrotfish are going to encounter in today’s world. Wake actually has the highest concentration of Bumphead parrotfish in U.S. waters and possibly the world (although certain areas of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia also have very healthy adult populations). During my time at Wake Atoll, I had a number of chances to see them, from loose groups of just a few individuals, to a school of thirteen.

School too

School of Bumphead parrotfish at Wake Atoll (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Andrew E. Gray)

As I write this, the NOAA Ship Hi‘ialakai heads west to Guam, our next survey site where I’ll be spending 8 days surveying reef fish. Bumpheads were once thought to be extinct around Guam due to overfishing, but there have been a few sightings by CREP and partners in the past few years, of both adults and juveniles. So while my expectations of encountering these giant bulbous-headed, coral-chomping fish are low, I sure hope I do, given how important they are to the natural function of coral reef ecosystems.

References
  1. Bellwood, D., & Choat, J. (2011). Dangerous demographics: the lack of juvenile humphead parrotfishes Bolbometopon muricatum on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs, 30(2), 549-554.
  2. Bellwood, D. R., Hoey, A. S., & Choat, J. H. (2003). Limited functional redundancy in high diversity systems: resilience and ecosystem function on coral reefs. Ecology Letters, 6(4), 281-285.
  3. Bellwood, D. R., Hoey, A. S., & Hughes, T. P. (2011). Human activity selectively impacts the ecosystem roles of parrotfishes on coral reefs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1906
  4. Donaldson, T. J., & Dulvy, N. K. (2004). Threatened fishes of the world: Bolbometopon muricatum (Valenciennes 1840)(Scaridae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 70(4), 373-373.
  5. Green, A. L., & Bellwood, D. R. (2009). Monitoring functional groups of herbivorous reef fishes as indicators of coral reef resilience: a practical guide for coral reef managers in the Asia Pacific Region: IUCN.
  6. Kobayashi, D., Friedlander, A., Grimes, C., Nichols, R., & Zgliczynski, B. (2011). Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) status review. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-PIFSC-26. NOAA.
  7. Muñoz, R. C., Zgliczynski, B. J., Laughlin, J. L., & Teer, B. Z. (2012). Extraordinary Aggressive Behavior from the Giant Coral Reef Fish, Bolbometopon muricatum, in a Remote Marine Reserve. PLoS One, 7(6), e38120. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038120
  8. Munoz, R. C., Zgliczynski, B. J., Teer, B. Z., & Laughlin, J. L. (2014). Spawning aggregation behavior and reproductive ecology of the giant bumphead parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum, in a remote marine reserve. PeerJ, 2, e681.
  9. Sundberg, M., Kobayashi, D., Kahng, S., Karl, S., & Zamzow, J. (2015). The Search for Juvenile Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) in the Lagoon at Wake Island.

SE16-02: American Samoa Reef Fish Survey Summary

by Adel Heenan and Marc Nadon

For the past three weeks, the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette has been the support platform for the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s reef fish survey project. This research project was led by the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Program (CREP), with partner agency representatives from the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) and the Bigelow Laboratory of Ocean Sciences. The mission was similar to the Pacific RAMP work, but with a particular focus on surveying reef fish assemblages.

Divers collected length observations for all reef fishes recorded during their underwater surveys. To do so accurately, trained divers regularly practice fish sizing using wooden cut-outs in-between research cruises. Length measurements for each reef fish surveyed allows an estimation of biomass by using pre-determined length-weight relationships. Furthermore, it is also used to estimate the size composition of fish populations and obtain a key indicator of population status: average length of exploited size classes. The reason we use this indicator is intuitive: as the exploitation rate of a fish population increases, fewer individual fish have a chance to reach older ages, and therefore, fewer individuals reach larger sizes. Mathematical expressions developed in the 1950s by fisheries scientists can actually relate average length to current fishing mortality rates, and these can be used in computer population simulations to investigate current stock status and generate management advice.

4.Survey_P.Ayotte

Reef fish survey divers regularly train in estimating fish size by using wooden cut-outs of known sizes (NOAA Photo by Paula Ayotte).

Outlined below is a summary of our recently completed survey efforts. More detailed survey results will be available in a forthcoming survey report.

Sampling effort

  •  Ecological monitoring took place in American Samoa from April 15 2016- May 5 2016.
  • Data were collected at 202 sites. Surveys were conducted at Ofu and Olosega (n=11), Rose (n=47), Tau (n=50) and Tutuila (n=94).
  • At each site, the fish assemblage was survey by underwater visual census and the benthic community rapidly assessed.
  • At a subset of sites (n=51), paired comparisons of fish surveys performed using closed circuit re-breathers versus open circuit SCUBA were conducted. Those data will be analyzed and presented in a separate publication.
TCW_rebreather

Diver conducts reef fish survey with a closed circuit re-breather (NOAA photo by Tate Wester).

Overview of the data collected

Primary consumers include herbivores (which eat plants) and detritivores (which bottom feed on detritus), and secondary consumers are largely omnivores (which mostly eat a variety of fishes and invertebrates) and invertivores (which eat invertebrates).

Spatial sampling design

Survey site locations are randomly selected using a depth-stratified design. During project planning and the project itself, logistic and weather conditions factor into the allocation of monitoring effort around sectors of each island or atoll. The geographic coordinates of sample sites are then randomly drawn from a map of the area of target habitat per study area. The target habitat is hard-bottom reef, the study area is typically an island or atoll, or in the case of larger islands, sectors per island, and the depth strata are shallow (0-6 m), mid (6-18 m), and deep (18-30 m).

Sampling methods

A pair of divers surveys the fish assemblage at each site using a stationary-point-count method (Figure 5). Each diver identifies, enumerates, and estimates the total length of fishes within a visually estimated 15-m-diameter cylinder with the diver stationed in the center. These data are used to calculate fish biomass per unit area (g m-2) for each species. Mean biomass estimates per island are calculated by weighting averages by the area per strata. Island-scale estimates presented here represent only the areas surveyed during this project. For gaps or areas not surveyed during this project, data from this and other survey efforts will generally be pooled to improve island-scale estimates.

Fig5.REA_method

Figure 5. Method used to monitor fish assemblages and benthic communities at the Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) sites.

Each diver also conducts a rapid visual assessment of reef composition, by estimating the percentage cover of major benthic functional groups (encrusting algae, fleshy macroalgae, hard corals, turf algae and soft corals) in each cylinder. Divers also estimate the complexity of the surface of the reef structure, and they take photos along a transect at each site that are archived to allow for future analysis.

About the monitoring program

Pacific RAMP forms a key part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), providing integrated, consistent, and comparable data across U.S. Pacific islands and atolls. CRCP monitoring efforts aim to:

  • Document the status of reef species of ecological and economic importance.
  • Track and assess changes in reef communities in response to environmental stressors or human activities.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of specific management strategies and identify actions for future and adaptive responses.

In addition to the fish community surveys outlined here, Pacific RAMP efforts include interdisciplinary monitoring of oceanographic conditions, coral reef habitat assessments and mapping. Most data are available upon request.

For more information:

CREP publications

CREP monitoring reports

CREP fish team

Fish team lead and fish survey data requests: ivor.williams@noaa.gov, adel.heenan@noaa.gov

 

SE16-02: Re-Breather diving in Samoa; counting fish without bubbles

by Jamie Barlow

Team Redundant” is what we proudly call ourselves; we are the re-breather team on the R/V Steel Toe and silently dive with the goal to count and size reef fish.

Figure 1: Ray Boland and Tate Wester pose for a picture; all gear up, cameras in hand, and in moments will roll out of the boat to start their reef fish survey.

Figure 1: Ray Boland (left) and Tate Wester (right) pose for a picture; all gear up, cameras in hand, and in moments will roll out of the boat to start their reef fish survey.

For the next couple of weeks PIFSC staff and partner agencies will be working off of the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette in the American Samoa archipelago. There are a total of 4 vessels tending divers and 3 of these small boats are covering as many sites within the day as possible.  We need statically enough to quantify abundance but in this 19’ SAFE boat warmly called “ R/V Steel Toe” we are diving on the same site twice…Why? one could very well ask… and the reason is that there is a notion that bubbles escaping from normal SCUBA systems (or “open circuit ”)  could bias fish counts because the noise the bubbles make could either attract or spook fish from the area being surveyed.

Figure 2: The divers will spend up to an hour hovering over the reef and counting fish. Notice the lack of bubbles escaping from Ray Boland’s re-breather unit.

Figure 2: The divers will spend up to an hour hovering over the reef and counting fish. Notice the lack of bubbles escaping from Ray Boland’s re-breather unit.

The CREP fish team is taking this “does SCUBA bubbles effect fish counts?” question head on with a comparative study. And so, re-breathing comes into the fold. The R/V Steel Toe visits 3 sites a day where a team of scuba divers and a team of rebreather divers survey the same site on the same day….. randomly deciding which method goes first at each dive site.

Figure 3: Andrew Gray preps himself for a 75ft re-breather dive. His CREP colleagues using SCUBA are just finishing up their dive , they will be on the surface momentarily and quick chat about the direction of current and the line angle is all he needs before he rolls in. This comparative study is looking to see if the fish he sees has any stastical difference to what his colleagues just saw.

Figure 3: Andrew Gray preps himself for a 75ft re-breather dive. His CREP colleagues using SCUBA are just finishing up their dive , they will be on the surface momentarily and quick chat about the direction of current and the line angle is all he needs before he rolls in. This comparative study is looking to see if the fish he sees has any statistical difference to what his colleagues just saw.

The “Team Redundant” nickname refers to the, thorough planning, extra safety precautions, backup safety equipment and a 16 action item checklist that each re-breather diver completes prior to each dive. This check list runs thru the opening of valves, checking of sensors and calibrating dive computers and when everything checks out; each diver dons their 75 pound re-breather and breathes off the unit for 5 minutes before rolling of the boat slate-in-hand.

Figure 4: Andrew Gray and Tate Wester thoroughly examine and check their re-breather units prior to each dive. They are in the middle of their 16 action item checklist; demonstrating safe and best practices for closed circuit diving.

Figure 4: Andrew Gray (back) and Tate Wester (front) thoroughly examine and check their re-breather units prior to each dive. They are in the middle of their 16 action item checklist; demonstrating safe and best practices for closed circuit diving.

As the Coxswain , I read off the their 16 action item checklist , but I have no idea what each action is, means or requires the diver to conduct. However I hear “check” from each diver before we move to the next item. It’s obvious to me that years of rigorous training and a careful, methodical and observant personality give each diver the edge they need to safely dive with re-breathers. However for Andrew Gray, Ray Boland and Tate Wester , or as they affectionately call themselves “Team Redundant”  this silent diving is just another effective methodology to count and size Samoa’s reef fish.

Figure 5: “Team Redundant” hard at work

Figure 5: “Team Redundant” hard at work

SE16-01: Nightlight fishing for atule in American Samoa

A PIFSC sponsored Rose Atoll Marine National Monument and American Samoa Archipelago Ecosystem Science Implementation Workshop was held in May 2015 at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center. This workshop pinpointed several high priority American Samoa research items (see workshop report here).  One of the concerns centered on the observations of a decline in the American Samoa atule (also referred to as akule) (Selar crumenophthalmus) runs.  Atule typically live outside the bays and exhibit annual spawning migrations inside bays where they are harvested by village residents.  In addition to providing food, this traditional fishery is deeply rooted in Samoa and is culturally important.

The PIFSC Samoan Archipelago Fisheries Research Cruise sought to provide baseline information about atule by developing a survey to assess the current status of atule.  The operational plan was to use a nightlight, lowered from the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette, to attract atule to the ship, capture them using hook-and-line, and quickly measure before releasing them alive (Fig. 1).  This data would provide insight about the offshore distribution of atule and the population’s size classes.  Future surveys could examine site-specific atule life history traits by collecting otoliths for ageing studies and gonads for reproductive studies.  All of this information would help assess current atule stock status for sustainable management.

Figure 1. Scientist measuring an atule during the Samoa Archipelago Fisheries Research Cruise.

Figure 1. Scientist measuring an atule during the Samoa Archipelago Fisheries Research Cruise.

Despite fairly intensive fishing efforts (every night from 8:00 pm to 12:30 am) offshore from a variety of bays with traditional atule runs (Fagatele, Leone, Faga’sa, and Aoloau) catch rates were disappointing.  Fish schools were difficult to locate.  When located, the ship drifted too fast and they were lost.  However, sample sizes were large enough to identify two primary sizes classes offshore.

Sometimes the best scientific efforts don’t pay out.  But we did learn that using a big ship to catch little fish may not be the best way to survey the atule population.  Scientists are currently discussing other survey methodologies (never give up!).

However, the scientists aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette have been very successful in their other endeavors during this cruise.  Stay tuned to the PIFSC blog for cruise updates as we follow the scientists during the Samoa Archipelago Fisheries Research Cruise.

For a cruise overview, click here.

To read about the SE16-01 Blog 1 – Outreach event with American Samoa Community College Students, click here.

To read about the SE16-01 Blog 2 – Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs, District Governor of Manu’a, and District Governor of American Samoa East District visit the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette in Pago Pago, American Samoa.

SE16-01: Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs, District Governor of Manu’a, and District Governor of American Samoa East District visit the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette in Pago Pago, American Samoa

On Friday March 04, 2016 PIFSC and NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette honored a request from the Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs (OSA), Paramount Chief (PC) Mauga Tasi Asuega, to officially tour the Sette, and experience the NOAA research vessel’s working environment while sharing a meal with the ship’s Officers, Crew and Science Team.  Mr. Keneti Tanuvasa, OSA Administrative Officer delivered the request while attending the NOAA Fisheries Research pre-cruise briefings conducted by Dr. Joseph O’Malley, and Mr. Robert Humphreys in October 2015. Accompanying PC Mauga to the working breakfast on the Sette were High Talking Chief Misaalefua John Hudson, OSA District Governor of Manu’a and High Talking Chief Alo Paul Stevenson, OSA District Governor American Samoa East District. Also joining the breakfast were the ship’s Polynesian Shipping Port Agent, High Chief Samia Peter Te’o, Ms. Monica Miller of radio station 93KHJ, and Mr. Felise Amoamoa, KVZK TV News Reporter and camera crew.

Fig 1

Figure 1. Group shot of Paramount Chief and District Governors with PIFSC scientists.

After breakfast, Life History Program Leader, Mr. Robert Humphreys, discussed with the group the cruise mission, as well as Samoan fisheries. The NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette Commanding Officer LCDR Keith Golden then led the visitors on a ship tour.  The morning commenced with a morning prayer by KVZK’s Mr. Felise Amoamoa and a Samoan cheer led by Paramount Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega.

Figure 2. LCDR Golden accompanies Paramount Chief and District Governors on a tour of the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette.

Figure 2. LCDR Golden accompanies Paramount Chief and District Governors on a tour of the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette.

Soon after the visitors left, the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette ‘threw lines’ and departed Pago Pago Harbor.  The ship’s complement was in high spirits as they began scientific operations after this great visit by their distinguished guests!

Figure 3. Paramount Chief Mauga leads the ship’s crew on a Samoan cheer.

Figure 3. Paramount Chief Mauga leads the ship’s crew on a Samoan cheer.

For a cruise overview, click here.

To read about the SE16-01 Blog 1 – Outreach event with American Samoa Community College Students, click here

Stay tuned to the PIFSC blog for cruise updates as we follow the scientists during the Samoa Archipelago Fisheries Research Cruise.