10

Nov 2013

A Reef of Clones

A Reef of Clones By Mark Vermeij  Coming to a pristine reef raises expectations. One of these expectations concerns the ways in which coral cover increases on reefs such as those of the Line Islands. Increasing coral cover is nowadays a rather rare phenomenon on most reefs, but on the reefs of Malden, corals cover most of the bottom in shallow water suggesting rapid coral growth of existing and broken or

Starbuck Island: The majority of the trees on the island are found in this one small grove of coconut palms. Windswept Vostok Island: The vegetation of Vostok is composed almost exclusively of the native Pisonia tree Where Did The Trees Go? By Stuart Sandin We have arrived to Starbuck island, the first of our stops in the more nutrient-rich waters of the southern Line Islands. Lying at about 6 degrees south latitude, we

Widening Our View of the Reef By Gareth J. Williams We are hundreds of miles away from civilization in the middle of the south Pacific Ocean when a tiny thin speck of land comes into view. It is Starbuck Island in the Southern Line Islands. The bright white sand reflects the morning sun and a few lone palm trees huddle together. As we jump in the water on our first

                                                                  Vostok Benthic Tents Maggie Johnson The second stop on our research cruise traversing the southern Line Islands brought us to Vostok Island. The morning after we departed Flint, we woke at 5am to find the tiny, triangular

Corals and Algae – The Faceoff by Emily Kelly What an incredible experience we’ve all had on this research cruise so far.  Reflecting on Flint as we depart, I am struck by the incredible health and beauty of the reef there – with the overwhelming coral cover with very little algae present. On coral reefs, one of the most precious commodities is space.  In order to survive as an animal or

Where Are All of the Herbivores? By Emily Kelly In the community of coral reef managers and conservation practitioners, there is general consensus that herbivores are a critical component of the reef community. The herbivorous fishes that eat seaweed help to control the growth of these fleshy algae that compete with corals for space on the bottom. When too many herbivorous fishes are removed from a reef, the algae can

27

Oct 2013

A World of Coral

A World of Coral By Stuart Sandin We have arrived at Flint Island in the Republic of Kiribati. Flint is a small and elongated island, approximately 4km north-to-south and about 500m across at its widest. The island is uninhabited, though in the past groups of people lived here to mine guano (seabird droppings used as fertilizer) and to grow copra (the meat of coconuts used principally to make coconut oil).

The Expedition Begins By Stuart Sandin Our destination is the Line Island archipelago of the Republic of Kiribati, but today we are in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The research team has assembled here in Tahiti to meet our vessel, the Expedition Yacht Hanse Explorer. In a few hours we will be escorted out of the port and into the open Pacific Ocean – our first stop is Flint Island, the southernmost

Coral reef ecosystems are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the planet yet they are suffering significant declines due to human impacts. Because many people depend on reefs and reef fisheries for their livelihoods it is highly important to gain a better understanding of how reef fisheries work. In previous research we were able to document how coral reef ecosystem productivity varied across the Northern Line Islands including islands with and without human habitation. We

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