Reef and Fishery Assessment of Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge

On April 23, 2009 scientists from the NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami Florida (SEFSC) departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. Their destination: the Navassa National Wildlife Refuge. Along with the NOAA scientists are researchers from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM/RSMAS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Director of the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine (FoProBiM), an NGO based in Haiti.
This work is funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hunting Staghorn...

Staghorn coral that is! Like its close relative elkhorn coral, staghorn coral was listed as a threatened species under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006.
When I first visited Navassa in 2002, we encountered a few very small thickets of staghorn coral and scattered colonies on several of our dives to the deeper patch reefs. When we returned in 2004 we found coral disease actively spreading around the reefs of Navassa and only saw 1 colony in our many dives. In 2006 we found substantial coral bleaching and only found 2 small sprigs of this coral, one of which was diseased and dying! So this year we have once again issued an ALL POINTS BULLETIN for staghon coral sightings amongst the 12 divers in our group! So far one small colony has been seen by Jack Javech of the fish counting team. If the weather continues to be too rough to survey elkhorn coral along the wall I will join the hunt for this now rare and emperiled coral. Although it appeared to be doomed on our last visit, this is a relatively fast growing coral and I am hoping that we will find small colonies that have persisted through these tough times! --Dana

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