Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We're here for the corals

Max with an EAR after it was redeployed.
It's humpback whale season in Maui, but we're here for the corals. We are back in Maui to change out acoustic recorders that have been monitoring the soundscape for us since September. We're retrieving these recorders (EARs and DMONs).  In the case of the EARs  (Ecological Acoustic Recorders), we're changing out the old batteries and hard drives for new ones, then placing them back on the sea floor for another 4-5 months. We have been testing a new version of the DMON (WHOI's Digital Acoustic Monitor), so the plan is to bring these back to the lab to ensure proper recording. In addition to these dives we've been surveying the environment for the local fish species and benthic cover (coral, algae, sand, rubble, etc...). The overall goal of this project is to compare the soundscape and its diversity of sounds, with that of the biodiversity and coral reef habitat quality to address whether the soundscape is reflective of the local ecosystem.  This is a step beyond our earlier work in the US Virgin Islands by addressing 3x more sites with and sites with greater coral cover.  The work is in collaboration with Marc Lammers of the University of Hawaii and Oceanwide Science Institute. His assistant Eden Zang is also helping us out.

Bleached coral. Our recorders were out for one of the warmest spells in Hawaii in recent times. We are curious if there's a signature in this in our recordings, although the bleaching in our sites has been low.

A local resident curious about our reef activities.

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