A recent study by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory shows that coral growth observed in symmetrical brain corals (Pseudodiploria strigosa) and mountainous star corals (Orbicella faveolata) in the Flower Garden Banks reefs, in the Gulf of Mexico, are linked to warming sea surface temperatures.
Coral scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) are in the process of analyzing data that may shed light on the sub-lethal effects of sedimentation stress in coral larvae. Scientists recently conducted a series of lab experiments aimed at assessing the effects of Port of Miami dredge sediments on the larval performance of the Caribbean threatened coral Orbicella faveolata (also known as the mountainous star coral). Preliminary analysis suggests significant effects of sedimentation on both the survival and settlement of coral larvae.
From March 1st through March 3rd, AOML coral scientists traveled to reefs in the Upper and Lower Florida Keys to swap out instruments being used for an ongoing coral bleaching study. Both pH and light loggers were collected and deployed at inshore and offshore study sites.
AOML coral researchers conducted a number of reef monitoring activities during the month of October at Cheeca Rocks off of Islamorada, Florida. Among the activities was the installation of new sensors to measure pH and photosynthetic light levels at the on-site MapCO2 buoy. The team also conducted benthic surveys and deployed a pH sensor at an inshore patch reef where they are conducting an experiment to examine the impacts of bleaching across Florida Keys reefs. They were also joined by a colleague from the University of Miami who conducted photo mosaic surveys of the reefs. A photo mosaic is a tool used by researchers to map reefscapes and involves the stitching together of hundreds of photos taken simultaneously across the reef to form one giant image. Photo mosaics provide coral researchers with an important tool to more accurately document community-wide changes in reef health.
AOML’s Coral Health and Monitoring Program (CHAMP) rolled out a new data source in October as part of its online data query tool. Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Temperatures, or OISSTs, are data from microwave satellite observation platforms, products that are sourced from Remote Sensing Systems. Whereas other sea surface temperature sources might be missing data due to orbital gaps or non-ideal environmental conditions such as cloud cover or rainfall, the OISST platform corrects for these errors to provide a complete, daily sea surface temperature map that can benefit coral health and monitoring efforts worldwide.
In a new study published April 1 in Global Change Biology, NOAA oceanographers and colleagues have developed a new method to produce high-resolution projections of the range and onset of severe annual coral bleaching for reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean
AOML is proud to announce the selection of Dr. James “Jim” Hendee as the director of its Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division. Internationally recognized for his expertise in coral observing systems and data management, Jim’s almost 25-year tenure with AOML began in 1990 as a data manager for several ocean chemistry programs. Jim is well known for his ability to leverage resources to innovatively develop and inspire productive research teams. Jim steps into the role of director after serving in an acting capacity since June 2013.
The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) Redeploys Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Buoy
During the month of October, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) finished redeploying their buoy, which is part of the Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS). The buoy was first deployed in October 2013 and needs to be returned to land each year for cleaning, repainting and instrumentation swap. The buoy was towed from its deployment site on October 14th and returned to position on October 29th. AOML’s Mike Jankulak worked remotely with CCMI personnel to update the buoy’s programming and develop procedures for instrument configuration. As of October 31st all data feeds from the buoy to AOML and NDBC has fully resumed.
Images of corals taken on September 17, 2014, at Cheeca Rocks, which is in the Florida Keys off of Islamorada.
Images of corals taken from Horseshoe Reef and Little Grecian Rocks, in the vicinity of Key Largo, Florida.