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.

Friday, May 1, 2009


After the boats are put in the water and the dive teams are loaded we head out to our survey locations (please see RVC methodology blog for survey design information). The divers put on wetsuits for warmth and protection from stinging sea creatures like fire coral, jellyfish, and sea lice. Divers wear standard dive equipment like a scuba tank for an air supply, BCD, and regulators which attach to the tank and permit the diver to breathe underwater. The science divers carry clipboards with waterproof paper, measuring sticks and cameras down with them to document what they see. The diver teams also use a dive flag/GPS system which remains on the surface and is attached to a reel of line which the divers carry down with them. This serves a dual purpose by marking the exact location of the area sampled and providing a visual marker on the surface as to where the divers are. The divers (divers always go down as buddy pairs), do a back roll into the sea and descend to the planned working depth. For this mission it is very important that the divers do not go below 100 feet deep. When sampling is completed, the divers return to the surface and are retrieved by the coxswain of the small boat who remains close and maintains a watchful eye on the divers below. On the surface, the coxswains record the time the divers enter and exit the water which they then radio back to the diving supervisor Dave McClellan on board the Nancy Foster.


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