Occurrence

Baseline Marine Biological Surveys of the Phoenix Islands, July 2000

Latest version published by Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node on 21 March 2024 Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node

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Description

Rapid assessment surveys were conducted during a 21-day marine biological expedition to the Phoenix Islands, Republic of Kiribati, from 29 June to 11 July 2000.This study includes new data on the biological diversity and abundance of the region and research and management recommendations. We conducted surveys and over 300 research SCUBA dives among the remote Phoenix Islands: Nikumaroro (Gardner), McKean, Manra (Sydney), Kanton (Aba-Riringa), Enderbury, Orona (Hull) and Rawaki (Phoenix), only excluding Birnie Island due to time limitations.

Corals, benthic and mobile invertebrates, fishes, algae, sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals were surveyed at each site. Deep-sea life was sampled during seven deployments of an autonomous digital video camera system to 1,000 m depth at Kanton, Manra, and Orona. Coral reef and fish communities were surveyed using rapid assessment methods, small benthic fishes were collected using rotenone as a stunning agent, marine algae were collected by hand primarily during SCUBA dives, and a deep-drop collecting net was deployed to sample deep-sea animals.

The reefs show evidence of the extreme isolation of these islands, pounded on three sides by the large ocean swells of the Pacific with only a narrow-protected side to the west providing protection for anchorage. Coral species diversity of the islands was moderately high. While lacking in some corals dominant in other major reef areas, the reefs have interesting species assemblages, with prolific growth of some species normally subdominant in other reef areas. The reefs were in an excellent state of health, at the time of these surveys free from the bleaching that has plagued reefs in other parts of the Pacific recently and with no evidence of any coral diseases. Our data include new distribution records for species of algae, coral and fishes.

Data Records

The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 946 records.

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.

Versions

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How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Obura D, Stone G, Mangubhai S, Bailey S, Yoshinaga A, Holloway C, Barrel R (2024). Baseline Marine Biological Surveys of the Phoenix Islands, July 2000. Version 1.1. Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node. Occurrence dataset. https://nzobisipt.niwa.co.nz/resource?r=baseline_survey_phoenixislands&v=1.1

Rights

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The publisher and rights holder of this work is Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.

GBIF Registration

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Keywords

Occurrence; Observation

Contacts

David Obura
  • Metadata Provider
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Researcher
CORDIO-East Africa
P.O. Box 10135
Bamburi, Mombasa
KE
Gregory Stone
  • Originator
Senior Vice President for Ocean and Exploration and Conservation
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
01220 Boston
MA
US
Sangeeta Mangubhai
  • Originator
Researcher
World Wide Fund for Nature - South Pacific
Private Mail Bag, GPO
Suva
FJ
Steven Bailey
  • Originator
Researcher
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
01220 Boston
MA
US
Austen Yoshinaga
  • Originator
Researcher
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
01220 Boston
MA
US
Cat Holloway
  • Originator
Co-author
NAI'A Cruises
PO Box 332
Pacific Harbour
FJ
Robert Barrel
  • Originator
Co-author
NAI'A Cruises
PO Box 332
Pacific Harbour
FJ

Geographic Coverage

Phoenix Islands, Kiribati

Bounding Coordinates South West [-5.58, -174.55], North East [-2.79, -170.71]

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2000-06-29 / 2000-07-11

Sampling Methods

SCUBA dives, a deep-drop collecting net, and deployments of an autonomous digital video camera system.

Study Extent Phoenix Islands: Nikumaroro (Gardner), McKean, Manra (Sydney), Kanton (Aba-Riringa), Enderbury, Orona (Hull) and Rawaki (Phoenix), excluding Birnie Island

Method step description:

  1. Three methods were used for rapid surveying of reefs for coral diversity and condition, as well as benthic cover. Rapid assessment methods were chosen in order to cover as much area as possible during the several dives in each study area. (1) Coral Species Diversity - timed surveys: Coral species were identified at each site by recording new coral species observed in 2.5 minute intervals during each dive, giving information on species diversity, as well as community structure. Identification was done using Veron (1986). Small fragments of unidentied corals were collected, bleached for two days in domestic bleach, then dried and sealed in airtight plastic bags for transportation. Preliminary identifications were made at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Doug Fenner) and the Museum of Northern Queensland (Dr. Carden Wallace). (2) Coral and benthic cover - video transects: Video records of the benthos using afixed camera-to-subject distance provided reliable images for scoring benthic cover of major algal and benthic invertebrate groups, many of the latter to genus or species level. Sample quadrats were selected during playback of the material. The video tape of benthic cover was stopped at four-second intervals, sampling five fixed points on the screen, with 100 points defining a single transect. As far as possible, five transects were analyzed for each site, though some sites had fewer transects due to the low video-time recorded. (3) Coral condition: The incidence of coral stress indicators (i.e., bleaching, epiphytism, partial mortality, sea star predation) was also noted for each site. These were recorded in repeated 10-minute samples during each dive.
  2. Important benthic invertebrate resource species were sampled in ten-minute intervals during dives. The identity (at species level where possible) and number of individuals were recorded for the following invertebrate groups: sea cucumbers, lobsters, clams and crown-of-thorns sea stars.
  3. Fish populations were studied using four different methods designed to sample: a) abundance of large predatory fishes, b) abundance of ecologically important fish families, c) diversity of representative ornamental fishes, and d) diversity and taxonomy of small cryptic fishes. The first two methods consisted of identifying and counting fish in situ. In the first method, 18 selected species of large predatory fishes were counted during all dives. The second method counted fishes at the family level, selecting families common to coral reefs and with important ecological roles. The third method assessed relative diversity of representative ornamental reef fish families. Species counts were taken for the following three groups: butterfly fishes (Chaetodontidae), angel fishes (Pomacanthidae) and clown fishes (Pomacentridae; Amphiprioninae).
  4. Marine mammal sighting watches were kept from the bridge of the NAI’A during most daytime transits. Observer height-of-eye was 6 meters above waterline, and normally two observers, one on each side of the vessel, scanned the waters in an arc from the bow to90 degrees on each side. For each marine mammal sighting the following information was recorded: date, time, species, number of animals, behaviors, latitude and longitude, distance at first sighting, distance when abeam of NAI’A, water depth, weather conditions (sea state, cloud cover, wind), observers, and comments.
  5. Turtles and birds were counted opportunistically throughout the cruise.
  6. The National Geographic Society provided a deep-sea digital video camera (rope-cam) for use on this expedition. The camera had an operating depth of up to 2,000 meters and had an automatic recording system with a preset on-off schedule once it reached depth. The camera was lowered over the side with bait to attract animals and was then recovered using block and tackle and a tow skiff.
  7. There was one deployment of a deep-water net to a depth of 1000 meters. The net was a four mm mesh with a square frame that measured one metre square. The sample of deepwater fishes and other organisms was analyzed along with the shallow water fish collections.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Obura, D., Stone, G., Mangubhai, S., Bailey, S., Yoshinaga, A., Holloway, C. and Barrel, R. 2011, Baseline Marine Biological Surveys of the Phoenix Islands, July 2000, Atoll Research Bulletin, 62 pg.

Additional Metadata

marine, harvested by iOBIS