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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

See how they grow

On my last visit to Navassa in 2006 we tagged about 70 Elkhorn coral colonies in study plots so that we could monitor changes in the population on subsequent visits and compare them to those we see among our other study plots in Florida, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Virgin Gorda and the Lesser Antilles.
So far I have visited the plots in Lulu Bay on the south side of the island and am happy to report all tagged colonies are present and accounted for after 2 1/2 years! Having all of the colonies survive is actually fairly miraculous based on what we have seen in other locations. But the population here in Navassa has done more than survive, all of the colonies are still healthy and growing! The picture on the right shows the same colony after 2 1/2 years and if you compare them carefully, you can tell that the branches are longer and the base is wider as the colony has grown. We did not find any new colonies as I had hoped and that is somewhat surprising since this population seems to have high recruitment, but where Elkhorn corals are concerned, not dying is alone cause for celebration! We are planning to try (weather permitting) to visit our study plots on the north coast tomorrow and hope that we will be pleasantly surprised there as well! --Dana

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