About the Expedition

On January 21, 2010, scientists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (CRED/PIFSC), along with visiting scientists from the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and local agencies in American Samoa, departed on a three month expedition to Johnston Atoll, Howland and Baker Islands, American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Kingman Reef aboard the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai. This is the fifth biennial Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) expedition to American Samoa and the seventh to the Pacific Remote Island Areas. The expedition is sponsored by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and is divided into three segment sequentially led by Chief Scientists Benjamin Richards, Rusty Brainard and Jamison Gove.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ofu & Olosega Islands

View of the south side of Ofu (left) and Olosega (right)
(Photograph by Kerry Grimshaw)
By Kerry Grimshaw

We are currently working near the islands of Ofu and Olosega, which are part of the Manu’a group of islands (which also includes Ta'u). They lie approximately 100 km northeast of Tutuila. Although geographically separate, these islands are often referred to together because they are only separated by a narrow straight (approximately 75 m) that is bridged by a shallow coral reef. The twin islands of Ofu (on the west), and Olosega (on the east) are formed by two sharply eroded, overlapping shield volcanoes which gives these islands a dramatic landscape.

Ofu and Olosega are inhabited with the majority of their population (approximately 500 people according to the 2000 census figures) living in the 2 main villages of Ofu and Olosega. An interesting fact I learned from the National Park of American Samoa’s website is that the To’aga archeological site near Ofu Beach has evidence of more than 3,000 years of continuous human occupancy and some modern descendants still live nearby in Ofu Village.

The south-coast beach of Ofu-Olosega with it’s the 4km (2.5mi) stretch of white sand is one of the most beautiful in the South Pacific. Much of the southern coast is also part of the National Park of American Samoa. Along this stretch there are excellent opportunities to snorkel and see some of the 300 species of fish and 150 species of coral that can be found there. Through our shallow water multibeam mapping in 2004 we learned that Ofu and Olosega had a previously uncharted bank top that is less than 300m deep and extends between 0.2 – 2km offshore before dropping to abyssal depths.

Our work this year will continue efforts to monitor fish, coral, algal, invertebrate, and microbial communities at depths ranging from 3 - 30m (10 - 100 feet) deep, as well as a suite of oceanographic observations to better understand the processes influencing these organisms. This data will be compared with that from the other islands we've visited to get an understanding of overall reef health of this area of the world.

1 comment:

  1. I have been following your voyage and just was informed of your blog reporting daily activities. It is fascinating and educational. I understand that there are SanDiego people on board, they may not know it but there is a JETS fan on board also. hope they are getting along. Frank M