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expeditions/ 2005 RAMP/9_30_05
David Nichols, State of Hawaii, DLNR, HIHWNMS
A diver retrieves a transect line over
a reef covered with Acropora (table coral). Photo by Greta
We finished our second day at Kure Atoll today. Now, we will
be heading back down the chain toward the MHI with a one-day
stop at Mokumanamana (Necker Island).
I mentioned yesterday, the NWHI is a great place to perform
comparison studies between reef systems here and those in
the Main Hawaiian Islands. The NWHI provides a natural coral
reef ecosystem relatively undisturbed by humans. One element
of the research again being done this cruise includes the
monitoring of diseases impacting stony corals.
biologist, Greta Aeby (Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology)
has been monitoring coral disease in the NWHI since 2002 and
documenting natural changes over time. Disease is a natural
component of any system including the NWHI reefs. This research
will allow comparisons to be made with systems in other areas
that are exposed to human disturbances.
with Fenny Cox, Greta dives with the rapid ecological assessment
team and documents percent coverage, community structure and
species diversity of corals at strategic sites throughout
the NWHI. One of the most amazing corals here in the NWHI
is not (or no longer) found in the MHI – those of the
One species of Acropora (table coral) forms tables
with a central stalk and a flat, circular surface with small
branchlets. Here in the NWHI it is not unusual to find older
specimens as wide as 15 feet.
have suggested that since we are in the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands CORAL Reef Ecosystem Reserve that perhaps the “unofficial
poster critter” should maybe be a coral. If this is
the case then Acropora would get my vote.
single table coral spreads out over the reef at French Frigate
Shoals. Photo by Darla White
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