Scientists Complete Surveys of Coral Reef Ecosystems around Oahu

CRED scientist Paula Ayotte surveys coral reef fishes using the stationary-point-count method.
CRED scientist Paula Ayotte surveys coral reef fishes using the stationary-point-count method.

Last fall, scientists from the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) completed two-weeks of surveys of coral reef ecosystems around Oahu as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). These shore-based, small-boat operations (mission SB-13-20) augmented the surveys undertaken last August during the PIFSC research cruise HA-13-04 aboard the NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai, marking the completion of the fifth such research effort by PIFSC in the MHI. Pacific RAMP, part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan of NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), is designed to provide a consistent, comparable flow of information to document and report the status and trends in environmental conditions and living resources of the nation's coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific.

During the SB-13-20 mission, from October 18 to November 6, 2013, scuba divers conducted Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs), focusing on the acquisition of data to derive estimates of the 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 collected water samples. They deployed autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) to assess the taxonomic diversity of cryptic invertebrate species on coral reefs and also installed 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 MHI.