Latest News
For Teachers
For Keiki (Kids)
About the Area
Photo Images
Video Images
Maps and Satellite Images
More Info

You are here: /main/research/NOWRAMP 2002/features/monitoring


Ship Logs

Posted by Jim Maragos, Ph.D., Coral Reef Biologist
Pacific/Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Photography by Jim Watt

Jim Maragos, PhD driving a permanent monitoring stake into the reef.The U.S. Fish & Wildlife manages 10 National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in the Pacific that protect coral reefs, and the Hawaiian Islands NWR and Midway NWR extend protection to 9 of the 10 areas of the NWHI. Long-term monitoring is an essential responsibility at all NWR and to date 70 permanent monitoring sites on coral reefs have been established at 9 of the Pacific NWR including 36 in the NWHI since 2000. The 2002 NOWRAMP Rapture expedition alone supported installation of 19 new monitoring sites and resurvey of 6 existing sites in the NWHI. An additional 5 sites at French Frigate Shoals will be resurveyed by the end of October 2002. Many of the earlier permanent transect surveys were facilitated by the Honolulu Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and their research vessel, the R/V Townsend Cromwell.

Daria Siciliano epoxying the monitoring stake into the reef.Before the 2002 expedition, the USFWS established 2 monitoring sites at Midway in 2000 to monitor the effects of eco-tourism, 4 at Pearl and Hermes in 2000 to assess the damages of a grounded fishing vessel, 2 to monitor corals at NOAA Coral Reef Early Warning System Buoys (CREWS) at French Frigate Shoals (FFS) and Maro Reef in 2001, and 9 additional sites at FFS to monitor the effects of seawall repair near Tern Island and natural stresses at several pristine sites. The 2002 expedition allowed 1 to 4 new permanent monitoring transects to be established at 9 of the 10 NWHI except Kure Atoll, a State of Hawai‘i Reserve. All of these were placed at a variety of pristine habitats to monitor changes attributed to natural stresses and effects, and included surveys at 3 CREWS buoy sites (FFS, Midway Atoll and Laysan Island).

Each monitoring site involves installing stainless steel stakes in the reef at 5m intervals along a 50m transect. The stakes are hammered into the reef away from corals and epoxy is applied to better secure the stakes. A graduated surveyor tape is then laid along the transect over the stakes, and the entire transect is photographed and many also videotaped along a meter-wide swath along the transect. High-resolution Nikon RS cameras are mounted on a one-square meter quadrat frame, and the entire line is photographed, one square meter at a time. After photography, the lines are removed, but the stakes remain to help investigators find and resurvey each line in future annual visits. This approach allows precise resurvey of the same reef tracts over time to monitor changes, even those of individual coral colonies.

Jim Maragos, Ph.D taking a photo quadrat of the reef.In light of the recent occurrence of mass coral bleaching at Pearl and Hermes, Midway, and Kure at the northern end of the NWHI, the role of long term monitoring takes on greater significance in this largest protected pristine coral reef ecosystem in the Pacific. Although 36 permanent monitoring sites seems like a good start, many more sites need to be installed in the huge 9,000 sq. km reef area of the NWHI. Priority attention will be given to analysis of the results of all monitoring data for the NWHI in the next several months.

I'd like to acknowledge the assistance and support of several key people in this endeavor: Daria Siciliano (UC Santa Cruz), Rusty Brainard (NMFS), Marjo Vierros (UC Santa Cruz), Yuko Stender (Rapture Marine Expeditions), and Ranya Henson (Humboldt State University).


Click here to ask question about the topic of this page!Ask About It!


Halimeda algae.  Click for more details.
Halimeda algae

Spotted Knifejaw.  Click for more details.
Spotted Knifejaw

Mystery of the Corals
Mystery of the Corals

Home | News | About | Expeditions | Photos | Video | Maps
Discussions | Partners | Teachers | Keiki | More Info | Search
Contact Us | Privacy Policy
This site is hosted by the
Laboratory for Interactive Learning Technologies
at the University of Hawai`i