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You are here: /main/research expeditions/ 2005 RAMP/9_30_05 Acropora

9/30/05 - Acropora
by David Nichols, State of Hawaii, DLNR, HIHWNMS

Acropora reef

A diver retrieves a transect line over a reef covered with Acropora (table coral). Photo by Greta Aeby

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).

As 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.

Coral 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.

Along 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 genus Acropora. 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.

Some 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.

Acropora 2

A single table coral spreads out over the reef at French Frigate Shoals. Photo by Darla White

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