Our 16th Annual Coral Monitoring Project!

Ok – time to get yourself in gear! The 2012 Coral Monitoring survey period (annual since 1996) will be October 6 – October 18.

With a Saturday arrival, we generally plan on acclimation and jet lag recovery Saturday, land based training on Sunday and Monday we DIVE!

The Monday dives are check-out dives and more hands on training, lots of coral, fish and critter ID as well as how to deploy transect tapes underwater and collect environmental information.

Now you will know for sure if that was really 200 foot visability!

Depending on how it goes, we might keep the data and photos from the training session or with the Tuesday session.

Generally, we have enough time so that we can do one working dive and one “exploratory” dive each diving day (Shhh, don’t tell anyone) – as far as they are concerned you are slaving away – in 150+ foot vis, in 84 f. degree water, with turtles, barracuda, rare tropicals and rainbow runners dancing around you. maybe some mermaids or mantas…

Sigh – it’s a rough life…

On the (more) serious side, the collected data will be submitted to the Kosrae Island Resource Management Agency (a Kosrae State agency) for their use in managing the essential reef resource and to the regional coral database being organized by the Micronesia Conservation Trust. Usually the KIRMA staff and staff from the Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization, our local conservation NGO, who are highly trained local scientists, will work and dive with us.

In case you are wondering, yes, scientists and others put our data to good use. Coral Monitoring data was used as the basis for declaring the Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) or “komokut” as it is known locally, a protected species in Kosraean waters in 2008.

What do you need to know in order to join the survey team?? You must be dive certified. Good buoyancy is needed too, if you are feeling a little shaky we’ll help you work on your skills. We’ll teach you the rest! If you are not nitrox certified, we have a nitrox orientation class that will allow you to use nitrox while diving with us, the orientation is provided at no cost to the volunteers.

If you have an underwater camera or are an underwater photographer, that is a plus! In 2011 we modified some of our protocols to use photographs of invertebrates and any coral damage found on our trancets. Then we review the photos each night, discuss what we found (sometimes new species for our area!) and update the database.

So – JOIN US! Dive, have fun, learn something AND make a contribution to the continuing health of our ocean.

OceanEarth a 501(c)3 corporation, is an essential partner for our Reef Protection Projects.

Assisting with logistical support for the coral monitoring and mooring buoy programs since 1996, their site has a great deal of information on past projects.

Dr. Steven Smith provides the pre program training and informational materials for the volunteers and, as he is located on the US West coast, is available for telephone questions from the North American volunteers.

The monitoring team members are all self-funded. The 2012 on island costs are being subsidized by Kosrae Village so we can offer volunteers a package price of $1850 per person which includes 13 nights lodging while on Kosrae, Kosrae State lodging taxes, nitrox and all other diving related expenses.

If you have questions please email me! Photos and data collected by previous teams can be found on the OceanEarth site at http://www.oceanearth.org.

One of our 2010 volunteers, Seth Greenspan, is a talented videographer and has published a series of videos documenting our coral monitoring project on Vimeo.com.

Here is the first in the series of three videos.