During the month of September a team of 16 people from such organizations as the New England Aquarium, National Geographic, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Conservation International are setting sail for the Phoenix Islands in the Central Pacific. Meet the expedition team >>
What and Where
This exciting expedition will further the study of the ocean habitat of the Phoenix Islands and during the trip the team will document all underwater life and will also explore the various submerged volcanoes both at a shallow level and also using a ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle). Learn more about the Phoenix Islands >>
Within the islands there are few human impacts apart from minimal artisanal fishing and tourism; this coupled with little pollution makes the area’s coral reef systems some of the planet’s healthiest. While the human impacts are non existent, the reefs are subject to the effects of climate change; this upcoming study will provide a rare opportunity to isolate just those effects without any other influencing factors “muddying the water”.
During the expedition the team will closely study the reefs and will do lots of sampling (to look at proteomics, transcriptomics, population genetics, disease, reproductive success, bacterial communities, etc). They will run lots of transects (a survey line along which they will monitor the occurrence of such things as coral) and they will also examine the results from a number of quadrats (a metal square placed on the ground, or seabed to isolate a sample area) where they will study fish and coral occurrences and their abundance.
In addition, members of the team will be studying the behavior of fish and corals in the absence of humans; while others will be looking at such things as sea cucumbers, mollusks, and worms. Read dispatches from the scientists on expedition >>
Top photo: © Brian Skerry/National Geographic Magazine