Coral Reef Ecosystems of Wake Island and the Mariana Islands Monitored during 2014 Pacific RAMP Expedition

The 2014 Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) expedition aboard the NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai conducted scientific monitoring of coral reef ecosystems in waters of Wake Island, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Mission HA-14-01 took place between March 5 and June 2 under leadership of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED). Data gathered during the 2014 mission augment information gathered on earlier biennial (and now triennial) surveys which began at these locations in 2003.

Steam and volcanic gases are exuded from Farallon de Pajaros, northernmost island in the Northern Mariana Islands chain and part of 
        the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
Steam and volcanic gases are exuded from Farallon de Pajaros, northernmost island in the Northern Mariana Islands chain and part of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

Pacific RAMP missions are carried out as part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan of NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program. Researchers conduct biological surveys of the coral reef using a stratified random sampling design that covers all types of hardbottom habitat in water depths <30 m. Additionally, during the surveys, CRED oceanographers and partners collect data on ocean temperature, chemical composition of the sea water, benthic cover, calcification, bioerosion, and biodiversity. A key objective of the data collection is to enable assessment and monitoring of the effects of climate change on coral reefs, including changes in ocean acidification.

During the 2014 expedition, researchers conducted ecological surveys, collected water samples, and deployed monitoring instruments and platforms at Wake Island and in the Mariana Archipelago. Members of the CRED Climate and Ocean Change Team installed climate monitoring stations around Wake and at Guam, Saipan, Pagan, and Maug in the Marianas. They deployed 87 subsurface temperature recorders, 176 calcification accretion units, 57 autonomous reef monitoring structures, and 96 bioerosion monitoring units. CRED scientists and partners completed 111 broad-scale towed-diver surveys on the coral reefs, covering more than 240 km of coastline, surveyed fishes at 374 Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) sites, and surveyed the benthos at 178 REA sites. The accompanying graphic shows estimates of reef fish biomass in the Marianas derived from the REA surveys. Analysis of other data will be carried out and published in the coming months.

Estimates of total reef fish biomass density (g/m2) at Rapid Ecological Assessment sites in the Mariana Archipelago 
        surveyed from March 25 to May 7, 2014, as part of PIFSC mission HA-14-01. Estimates of total reef fish biomass density (g/m2) at Rapid Ecological Assessment sites in the Mariana Archipelago 
        surveyed from March 25 to May 7, 2014, as part of PIFSC mission HA-14-01.
Estimates of total reef fish biomass density (g/m2) at Rapid Ecological Assessment sites in the Mariana Archipelago surveyed from March 25 to May 7, 2014, as part of PIFSC mission HA-14-01.