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Tuesday, april 30, 2013 cook Islands News

localneWS nuti no roto i te ipuKAreA

Reef project helps vanishing coral A SmALL group was privy to the workings of a state-of-the-art research vessel that is in the Cooks to do research on coral reefs as part of a global study. Last Wednesday evening a group of around 10 people were given a tour and lecture onboard, including Foreign Affairs secretary Jim Gosselin, Chamber of Commerce president theresa manarangi-trott, marine biologist Dr teina rongo and marine resources minister teina Bishop. the Living oceans Foundation is a non-proit organisation created by Saudi Arabian prince Khaled bin Sultan, who wants to help protect marine ecosystems. He provided the 220 foot Golden Shadow for the research to be done from. the ship – which has a maximum speed of 15 knots but usually runs at 12 – was impressive. the group squeezed through narrow white corridors to look at how the crew and scientists live and work for months on end. the ship has a dive compression chamber – which the ship’s doctor goes inside as well. one of the two ship’s doctors said the main injuries they encounter are from people falling over on deck in rough weather. there are also injuries from marine animals and ear injuries from diving. in the lab room the group saw how the scientists collect

samples to test under power- direct human stressors are miniful microscopes and can freeze mal, the expedition’s scientific specimens down to minus 80 research plan will differ from previous coral reef studies in that degrees Celsius. A number of chefs in a restau- it will provide the information rant-sized kitchen whip up four- needed to bridge on-the-ground course meals every day and the conservation actions while closship coverts its own fresh water ing critical scientiic knowledge on board from sea water using gaps. main goals of the generators. expedition are to the group heard The iveproduce high resoluhow the scientists year project tion habitat maps of are making geotheris bringing coral reef ecosystems mic and bathemetric together worldand identify primary maps of the Cook renowned coral drivers of coral reef islands, which will reef scientists community strucbe given to the govfrom more than ture, composition ernment, just as all 20 nations to and health. the research done Scientists will look on reefs around the explore, map world will be given and characterize at reef health and resilience, and why to each host country. the health some reefs survive the Global reef and resilience under tough condiexpedition began of remote tions while others die. in April 2011 in the reefs around Both climate Caribbean Sea. the globe. change and human the five-year stress on reefs will be project is bringing together world-renowned coral looked at. the team hope their research reef scientists from more than 20 nations to explore, map and will help remote and unique corcharacterise the health and re- al reefs that should be included silience of remote reefs around in a global network of marine protected areas. they will recthe globe. results will be compared ommend critical conservation against assessments of near targets for certain species that shore reefs that are affected by regulate reef health. As well as the Caribbean, the local and regional human stresGolden Shadow has been to the sors. Because very few surveys have Galapagos islands and most rebeen done on remote reefs where cently French polynesia, where

Dr Andrew Bruckner is the chief scientist on board the Golden Shadow and gave an informative presentation on the coral reef project being done. 13042601 the scientists believe they found 12 new species of marine life and three new species of coral. they spent a week in the waters around rarotonga and are now in Aitutaki. Fiji, tonga and new Caledonia will take them through to the end of the year, and the Solomon islands, Coral Sea, marshall islands and Bikini Atoll see them through the next. in 2016 they end up in the red Sea and then back to where they started. “Coral reefs around the world are dying,” the project’s chief sci-

entist Dr Andrew Bruckner told the ship’s guests. “We just don’t know on a local scale how bad it is.” He said while reefs can shift from coral dominated to algae dominated quickly and stay that way, one indication of how a damaged reef will rebound is to look at how heavily it is ished for its resources locally. Bruckner said rarotonga’s reefs appeared to be in a better shape than those in the Caribbean. He said it is a good thing rarotonga’s slopes are still vegetated as fertilizer runs off cul-

tivated slopes to damage coral reefs, made up of colonies of tiny animals. the scientists hope the knowledge gained from the Global reef expedition will be used to reveal major problems confronting these fragile ecosystems and will guide decisions needed to develop global conservation measures to combat the most serious threats impacting them. “man has done a lot to harm reefs. We know that,” says Bruckner. “one thing to do is put in a marine controlled area.” - Calida Smylie

The Cook Islands group was given a tour of the ship, including an impressive kitchen. 13042602

A Golden Shadow crew member showed the group round the engine control room and said getting the ship into Avarua Harbour in strong winds was ‘tight’. 13042603

Dr Andrew Bruckner shows the group the compression chamber for divers that get the bends and need life saving treatment. 13042605

The Golden Shadow is in the Cook Islands as part of a global coral research project funded by ocean-loving Saudi Arabian prince Khaled bin Sultan. 13042689

Tuesday 30 April  
Tuesday 30 April  

News, Sports and Opinion from the Cook Islands News for Tuesday, April 30, 2013