Biodiversity study in Rongelap, Marshall Islands, 2002

Latest version published by Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node on 10 April 2024 Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node

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This dataset comes from a project that was undertaken to assess the reef health, status, fisheries potential, conservation value and biodiversity on Rongelap Atoll. There is much interest from the local Government for the management of marine resources and the plans to re-inhabit the islands are imminent. The work carried out on the expedition in Rongelap was for the Rongelap Atoll Local Government (RALGov) to assess their marine resources, on which to base new eco-tourism and sport diving and fishing ventures.

The project team surveyed 12 sites around Rongelap Island from shore and a further 2 sites on other islands west of Rongelap Island. The results show that this area could be divided into 5 biogeographical zones, encompassing lagoon sites, outer reef sites and passes. The outer reef zone showed the highest coral cover and species richness. A high proportion of food fishes was also found in these zones, although a different suite of fish species was abundant and large inside the lagoon. High fish biomass, high percentages of coral cover and a total species number of 361 fishes and 170 corals indicated that the reefs around Rongelap Island are outstandingly pristine and healthy. Considering the small size of the area surveyed, it is exemplary that the reef supported more than two thirds of all fishes known from the Marshall Islands.

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 7,517 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.


The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Pinca S, Beger M, Peterson E, Richards Z, Reeves E (2024). Biodiversity study in Rongelap, Marshall Islands, 2002. Version 1.0. Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node. Occurrence dataset. https://nzobisipt.niwa.co.nz/resource?r=rongelap_coralreef_biodiversity&v=1.0


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

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

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: 343daf9b-0351-4075-90a3-35db2181b9f3.  Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Ocean Biodiversity Information System.


Occurrence; Observation


Silvia Pinca
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Senior Fishery Scientist
Natural Resources Assessment Surveys (NRAS)
Maria Beger
  • Metadata Provider
  • Originator
Fish Ecologist and Marine Conservation Planning
The Ecology Centre and Commonwealth Facility for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis (AEDA) University of Queensland
St Lucia
Eric Peterson
  • Originator
Natural Resources Assessment Surveys (NRAS)
Zoe Richards
  • Originator
Natural Resources Assessment Surveys (NRAS)
Emma Reeves
  • Originator
Natural Resources Assessment Surveys (NRAS)
Kevin Mackay

Geographic Coverage

Rongelap Atoll, Marshall Islands

Bounding Coordinates South West [11.149, 166.724], North East [11.192, 166.896]

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2002-08-02 / 2002-08-17

Sampling Methods

Coral and fish biodiversity: presence/absence and semi-qualitative abundance in timed swims (two fish experts).

Study Extent Rongelap Atoll, Marshall Islands. For logistical reasons, the sites in Rongelap Atoll were limited to the main island of Rongelap-Rongelap (Rongelap main island) and to two sites at the south side of the atoll: on the ocean side of the islands of Arubaru and Eniroruuri. On Rongelap-Rongelap balance was given to sites located on the lagoon and the ocean side.

Method step description:

  1. The survey methods were based on standard methodologies used in coral reef science (English et al., 1997, for ecological and monitoring surveys, Werner and Allen, 1998, for biodiversity assessments, Pinca, 2001, for the previous study in RMI), and Reef Check for the community monitoring (www.reefcheck.org). Surveys were depth stratified at deep (18 m), medium (12 m) and shallow (5 m) depth. Very shallow areas or lagoons were assessed only for coral and fish biodiversity. Data were entered in situ and analysed in Majuro.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Silvia Pinca and Maria Beger (eds.) 2002. Coral reef biodiversity community-based assessment and conservation planning in the Marshall Islands: Baseline surveys, capacity building and natural protection and management or coral reefs of the atoll of Rongelap. 159pp.

Additional Metadata

marine, harvested by iOBIS