The corals of Kāneʻohe Bay started bleaching 4-6 weeks earlier than NOAA forecasts, and significantly earlier than the 2015 bleaching event (see this post). We believe that what is unfolding in the bay is unprecedented because peak water temperatures are not expected until late October.
HIMB and our collaborators have pooled expertise and resources to create an emergency program to monitor the bleaching event throughout Kāneʻohe Bay. The foundation of the program is large, high-resolution photomosaics of 30 reefs (see graphic; Pizarro et al. 2017). Layered upon these photomosaics are a series of observation efforts spanning multiple scales (see Coordination for layers and layer coordinators).
The most unique feature of the bleaching response program is that we aim to measure these layers every 3-4 weeks in order to capture a time lapse of the bleaching event. We completed one full survey just as the bleaching started. We plan to continue the program for two years in order to track post-bleaching recovery of corals, fishes and other important groups, from genes to geomorphology.
The program has several applied goals:
- To identify resilience for future restoration efforts and can guide management decisions. For example, what are the corals, fish communities and reefs that fare better during the bleaching event and subsequent recovery period that can serve as models for restoration throughout the bay?
- To develop a standardized and cost-effective monitoring tool that we hope can be applied broadly in the future. For instance, a coupled photogrammetry / eDNA / fish camera trap method would capture biodiversity and relative abundances of common, rare and cryptic reef organisms in an unprecented way with very little field time compared to tradiational monitoring approaches.
- We also hope to dove-tail with historical data; the HIMARC initiative being the obvious connection.
Go to Coordination for details of layers.