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Fieldwork

Moloka'i Reef Study—Part 2

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Moloka'i Reef Survey by USGS—Part 2

by Gerry Anderson

(Reprinted with permission, from the February 24, 2000 issue of The Dispatch)

atop the platform
USGS scientists Kimberly Yates and Bob Halley stand atop a platform full of instruments collecting data the scientists will use to evaluate the quality and health of a reef off the south coast of Moloka'i.
The waters off Hotel Moloka'i have been a bit more crowded during the past two weeks. A team of four from the St. Petersburg, Florida, office of the U.S. Geological Survey was on Moloka'i to gather additional data on our reef, with the goal to evaluate its health. To gather these data, a platform containing the monitoring and computer equipment was placed on the reef a short boat ride off shore. At least one member of the team was on the platform 24 hours a day to monitor the equipment, to correct any problems that occur, and to refuel the generator when required. Bob Halley is in charge of the group, and the other members of the team are Kimberly Yates, Don Hickey, and Phil Thompson. Halley, Yates, and Hickey are reef specialists, and Thompson uses hydrophones (underwater microphones) to monitor the sound environment of the reef.

analytical equipment
Analytical equipment (used to measure dissolved oxygen and other chemical parameters) is located on the platform and connected to an incubation chamber (Submersible Habitat for Analyzing Reef Quality, or SHARQ) on the sea floor over the reef.
Last Wednesday, we were lucky enough to meet with Halley and Yates to discuss the project, and to take the short boat ride out to the platform, where Halley and Yates were to relieve Thompson, who had spent the previous night on the platform. While the other nearby USGS instrument package (see the 1/27/00 issue of The Dispatch) marked by orange flags, is designed to measure suspended sediment and other related parameters, the new platform collects data that enable the scientists to evaluate the quality and health of the reef. The measured quantities include dissolved oxygen, salinity, alkalinity (dissolved carbon), and temperature. These quantities are measured by the equipment every minute, but only one out of every ten measurements is recorded on the computer equipment, which is adequate to determine how these factors vary during the day and over longer periods.

For example, during daylight hours, when algae are producing oxygen by photosynthesis, the dissolved oxygen level is twice that at night when no oxygen is being produced, but is being used by the live coral and other reef animals. Thompson's experiments with recording sound data using hydrophones shows promise in providing an additional measure of the health of the reef. The sounds include the noise made by the water as it flows over the live coral.

Although the team spent only two weeks in this data gathering effort, they plan to return periodically to gather the same data in different seasons. So when you see the platform in the waters off Hotel Moloka'i, remember that it is contributing valuable information to ensure that our reef remains healthy.



Related Web Sites
The Dispatch
The Newspaper of Molokai

Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Looks at Moloka'i's Coral Reefs
May 1999
Coral Reef Studies on Moloka'i: a Progress Report
December 1999

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Moloka'i Coral Reef Study Pt. 2

Massachusetts Bay Cruise

Research Two New Web Sites

Outreach Sandwich High School

English & Metric Units

Meetings Tsunami Workshop

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Awards Thomas Jefferson Medal

CMG "Youngster" Wins Science Award

Winning Photo

Senate Commendation

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BRD in St. Pete

Woods Hole Community Activities

Dillon & Winters on BBC Radio

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