Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Conducted in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

A school of nenue or chub (Kyphosus sp.) was observed in August at Gardner Pinnacles 
               in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument during the 2011 NWHI Reef Assessment and Monitoring 
               Program expedition. NOAA photo by Paula Ayotte.
A school of nenue or chub (Kyphosus sp.) was observed in August at Gardner Pinnacles in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument during the 2011 NWHI Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program expedition. NOAA photo by Paula Ayotte.

From 23 July to 22 August, the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai was engaged in research on coral reef ecosystems in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The 2011 Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring cruise to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument involved 20 scientists from several organizations: PIFSC, NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program, University of Hawaii's Leeward Community College, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Hawaii Pacific University - Hilo, Bishop Museum, Division of Aquatic Resources of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

The research cruise focused on Nīhoa and Necker Islands, Gardner Pinnacles, Maro Reef, Lisianski and Laysan Islands, French Frigate Shoals, and Pearl and Hermes, Kure, and Midway Atolls. In-water field operations included Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) surveys of reef fishes, corals, algae, and other invertebrates; surveys of coral bleaching and disease; and scuba-diver sampling to assess bioerosion by marine organisms, disease and parasite prevalence within coral reef organisms, and microbial source tracking. Ship-based operations included water sampling focused on the carbonate chemistry of coral reef habitats and retrieval of deepwater ecological acoustic recorders (EARs) through the activation of acoustic releases. Data collected during the expedition will be reported in a Cruise Report and incorporated in ongoing studies of the ecosystem.