Coral reefs in the Northern Islands are recovering from the massive die off that they underwent a few years back, according to marine ecosystem research specialist Dr. Kevin Gorospe and Coral Reef researcher Dr. Dione Swanson.
The two gave a presentation last Friday regarding the data that they collected after three months of surveying the Northern Marianas.
In March 2017, a team of marine researchers boarded a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship with Gorospe and Swanson to collect data for three months out in the Pacific island lagoons. The data collected from the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai will be used to study the patterns and changes of the underwater environment.
According to Gorospe’s presentation, consistent monitoring of the lagoons is necessary to assess status and track change over time in an ecosystem.
According to Swanson, when the team returned to the Northern Islands again to re-assess the coral reefs, the survey showed that there was a high number of juvenile or baby corals that have started to grow.
There is also bad news, according to Gorospe’s presentation, as there has also been a high increase of coral bleaching in many of the Northern Island reefs.
For example, in 2014 .033 percent of the corals in the Farallon De Pajos reef experienced bleaching. The recent surveys showed that 11.63 percent of the corals have now experienced bleaching in 2017.
Many of the Northern Islands experienced a similar increase in bleaching.
Although this may be bad news, the survey also resulted in news that the corals are experiencing only partial mortality. This leaves bleached corals some tissue to help in their recovery. The corals have not completely died off.
The survey also resulted in the revelation that there are different species of fish that have found their way to the Northern Islands.
One of the species that were found in the Northern Island lagoon was a family of angelfish.
According to Gorospe, angelfish are usually found in lagoons of different climates. The survey resulted in the revelation that angelfish are also able to survive in the climate of the Northern Island lagoons.
According to Gorospe, although it is federally mandated to conduct these kinds of surveys, he feels that the data collected is beneficial to the community.
“And most importantly, in my opinion, you can forget about all of these federal mandates, because really what is most important is that we collect really good data that is available to you and anyone who requests it,” said Gorospe.