Marine Ecology Assistant

Marine Ecology Assistant

War In The Pacific National Historic Park
Published
December 1, 2020
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Description

Coral reefs are in decline worldwide due to climate change.  More than half of War in the Pacific NHP’s lands are underwater, and much of this submerged and is home to coral reef communities.  The park’s coral reefs have been badly damaged and continue to be threatened by warming ocean waters, ENSO-related low tides, acidification, pollution, and overfishing.  Widespread coral bleaching events in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 caused massive mortality, particularly among shallow reef flat coral communities. 

Reef restoration efforts within the park began in May 2019, when over 400 staghorn coral fragments were outplanted from a coral nursery to the shallow waters of the park’s Asan Beach unit.  These outplanted corals require regular monitoring, and during the bleaching season they may require additional care (such as installing shade clothes or removing algae).   On Guam, bleaching season generally begins in late summer and lasts until winter, but bleaching can be caused at any time during the year by disease outbreaks, corallivores (such as the crown-of-thorns sea star), and low tide exposure.  Tracking coral bleaching and water conditions throughout the year is imperative to understanding the overall health of Guam’s reefs and the causes of coral bleaching.  The park seeks an SIP Mosaics intern to assist with monitoring coral bleaching, particularly among outplanted corals, during the summer of 2021.

The SIP intern’s primary duty will be to perform monthly coral bleaching surveys in order to track bleaching throughout the bleaching season.  The intern will be trained to perform Coral Watch surveys, which use a color-matching card to identify the darkest and lightest colors of an individual coral colony.  Since 2015, park staff, interns, and volunteers have used Coral Watch methods to evaluate coral bleaching along permanent transects at three sites.  Using the Coral Watch methods will allow the intern to compare 2021 bleaching data at these sites to data from previous years.  The intern will also use Coral Watch methods to assess bleaching among outplanted corals at Asan Beach unit.

The intern will also assist with monitoring water quality conditions (i.e. temperature, light intensity, dissolved oxygen) on shallow reef flats using underwater data loggers.  The intern will assist park staff with collecting data, adding data to the water quality database, and analyzing water quality data to generate trends and comparisons with bleaching data.  The intern will also assist with various other natural resources activities, including monitoring Tridacna clam populations, quantifying coral recruitment, using CoralNet to identify benthic photos, assessing growth of outplanted coral colonies, outreach events, etc.

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