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expeditions/ 2005 RAMP/9_22_05
- Rapid Ecological Assessments
David Nichols, State of Hawaii, DLNR, HIHWNMS
Part of the rapid ecological assessment
team prepares to enter
the water from the HI-1 at Maro Reef.
I finally had a chance to see the Rapid Ecological Assessment
(REA) team in action today. These guys work incredibly fast
and are extremely thorough. The REA team consists of nine
divers. There are coral, algae, invertebrate and fish specialists.
The fish experts on this team include Darla White, Paula Ayotte
and Kosta Stamoulis. When the REA team arrives at a dive site
it is the fish folks that are the first in the water. They
like to place the transect lines and perform their survey
before the fish in the area are disturbed by the remaining
team members as they assess the other marine life along the
same transect lines. I think the coral, algae and invertebrate
experts don’t mind letting the fish guys go first just
in case there happens to be any hungry apex predators (i.e.
sharks) in the area.
fish team collect data on species abundance and the size distribution
of the fish. These guys have to be on the ball -- they must
identify fish quickly and correctly. It is impressive to watch
them as they traverse the transect line, with clipboard in
hand, recording information they will later enter into the
Darla White pauses during the rapid ecological assessment
fish at Maro Reef.
White has participated on REA teams in the Main Hawaiian Islands
(MHI) as well as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI).
One of the striking differences between the two areas is that
she doesn't see the large ulua hiding here in the NWHI. They
seem to be plentiful and quite fearless. In the MHI most ulua
will run for shelter at the first sight of humans in the water.
These islands/atolls provide a great opportunity to see a
coral ecosystem that appears to be in balance as nature intended
without the disruption of human impacts.
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