Shore-based Surveys of Coral Reef Fishes Expanded around Guam

Total fish biomass (g/m2) for REA sites around the island of Guam. Derived from data collected 
                 during the Pacific RAMP cruise by the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai in the spring of 2011 and shore-based 
                 surveys conducted in June 2011.
Total fish biomass (g/m2) for REA sites around the island of Guam. Derived from data collected during the Pacific RAMP cruise by the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai in the spring of 2011 and shore-based surveys conducted in June 2011.

Researchers of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) conducted shore-based fish surveys at 80 Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) sites around Guam during June 6–17, 2011 in collaboration with scientists from the University of Guam and University of Western Australia. These surveys supplement ship-based surveys that CRED completed at 49 REA sites around Guam in April and May during a Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) cruise by the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai.

The shore-based operations in Guam are part of an effort by CRED to increase the number of sites surveyed around population centers in the central and western Pacific. More sampling around heavily populated islands increases the quality of data, and the range of potential uses of the data, at locations where anthropogenic pressures tend to be greatest and resource management activities are focused. In 2010, CRED conducted similar intensive surveys around Tutuila, American Samoa, increasing the number of REA sites surveyed there to 129.

Surveys at Guam recorded various reef fishes including this Forsten's parrotfish (Scarus forsteni). 
                 NOAA photo by Jill Zamzow.
Surveys at Guam recorded various reef fishes including this Forsten's parrotfish (Scarus forsteni). NOAA photo by Jill Zamzow.

In Guam, REA sites were selected using a stratified random sampling design. At each selected sampling site, divers collected information on species composition of the fish community, estimated fish abundance, and estimated the size distribution of coral reef fish assemblages at depths up to 30 m. Visual and photographic benthic habitat data also were collected at each REA site. In addition, as part of a collaborative study, CRED researchers collected data to evaluate the relative cost and utility of alternative methods for surveying reef fish populations, including 2 visual survey methods and 3 stereo-video methods, one of the latter involving the use of baited remote video.