March Madness

Time flies when you’re having fun!  It’s almost the end of March!   Even though the early months of 2014 were met with rough marine conditions, we still hosted classroom training sessions and also Science Sunday talks.  And we’re really excited progress made with various school groups we’ve partnered with that want to monitor coral reefs around Guam.

Local scientist Anna Simeon  brought in live algae specimens for the audience to see in March
Local scientist Anna Simeon brought in live algae specimens for the audience to see in March

St. John’s marine biology students will begin monitoring Tumon Bay.  GCCRMP staff met with St. John’s students to help develop their hypotheses in order to figure where to set up their monitoring site.  Students collectively decided they wanted to investigate the difference in coral and macroinvertebrate communities near fresh water seeps.  At our next session, we met at a beach in Tumon to locate fresh water seeps and mark our location using a GPS unit.  Students also noted features near fresh water seeps.  Next step, we will help set up St. Johns monitoring site so that we can begin data collection.  With summer approaching, we can expect calmer marine conditions.  Hooray!

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Val Brown, Science Coordinator, shows map of Tumon Bay during site selection process with St. Johns students

We’ve also been working with Guam’s college students from Guam Community College (GCC).  GCC marine biology students and environmental club Eco-Warriors (and some family members too!) selected coral reef monitoring for their service learning project.    GCC students did in-water training and recently collected data at Pago Bay.  They will be comparing two different sea grass habitats in Pago Bay and another area in southern Guam by analyzing data collected on benthic cover and macroinvertebrate surveys.

Looking for macroinvertebrates!
Looking for macroinvertebrates!

We will be doing data collection this Saturday, March 29, from 9 -11am at Tepungan Beach Park.  So if you have completed Classroom and In-Water Training, then you can participate!  If it’s been a while, don’t worry! We always do a recap on methods before heading out to the water.  If you want to become a member of the GCCRMP team, email gureefmonitoring@gmail.com or call Marybelle Quinata, the program coordinator, at 646-1905 for more information.

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Goodbye 2013

It’s 2014!  And we’re proud to say we ended 2013 with a BANG!  In November and December alone, we welcomed seventy five new members.  Let’s do the “year in review” just to see our progress thus far to help set goals for 2014.

Beginning January 2013, we hosted our monthly Classroom and In-Water Training sessions that were (and still are) open to all Guam residents.  We have over 300 bright, enthusiastic members spanning from the age of 7 to over 60 with the shared interest of Guam’s coral reefs.  It’s been a great experience watching how our members have grown in their own way and share their experiences of Guam’s waters with one another.  My absolute favorite is to see “amazement” on the faces of our members when they see a new marine animal, a beautiful coral or understand a new aspect of marine ecology.

Meeting the residents of Fouha Bay
Meeting the residents of Fouha Bay

In 2013, we also started training student groups from University of Guam (UOG):  UOG Green Army of the Center for Island Sustainability and UOG Americorps.  Both of these groups have assisted with our data collection in primarily Fouha Bay as part of the Humatak Project.   They always bring tons of energy (and laughter) to monitoring events.  Additionally, we started training the Conservation Corp from War in the Pacific National Historic Parks summer program.   Next month, Conservation Corps will begin collecting data through monitoring surveys at their adopted site, Asan Beach Memorial Park.  We’ve also been working with the Umatac Coral Reef Ambassadors to set up their adopted sites of Umatac Bay and Cetti Bay, which they began monitoring in September 2013.  Other groups we’ve worked with are Americorps members of Pa’a Taotaotano cultural group, Guam Community College marine biology students, and George Washington High School’s proactive Marine Mania group.  If you have a group or organization that is interested in adopting a monitoring site, please contact us.

An awesome morning at Fouha Bay
An awesome morning at Fouha Bay

Toward the end of 2013, we partnered with National Park Service to host Science Sunday.  So far, we’ve had an awesome turn out since it started in October last year.  Every third Sunday of the month, different local scientists have an opportunity to share their work on Guam’s coral reefs or in Micronesia with the community.  Last year, the community heard talks on coral bleaching and disease, Marine Preserve Areas in Guam and Micronesia, and a new project on Guam looking at coral reproduction.  We kicked off 2014 with an awesome Science Sunday featuring the infamous Crown-of-Thorns Starfish.  Science Sunday has provided a place for the public to share their observations and experiences on Guam and ask some very important questions about threats to our coral reefs.  Shout out to all our guest speakers of Science Sunday:  Roxanna Miller, Dr. Pete Houk, Mike McCue, and Ciemon Caballes!

Ciemon Caballes shows methods on controlling COTS outbreaks
Ciemon Caballes shows methods on controlling COTS outbreaks

2013 was a great year!  We gained really enthusiastic and bright members, worked with groups who want to monitor a bay that’s important to their community, and opened communication lines with scientists and the public.  Needless to say, we have some high standards for 2014.  Thank you to our program members, partners, and all those that have supported (and continue to support) our efforts to engage Guam residents as stewards of the island’s precious coral reefs.

Fresh off the press, GCCRMP’s first issue of “Word on the Reef”

Hafa Adai Guam!

Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program’s first newsletter issue is out!  See what GCCRMP has been up to lately and how Guam residents have been learning about and/or getting involved with protecting Guam’s coral reefs!  Look out for our Member Feature and save the date for our Upcoming Events!  Check it out!  Click on the link below.

“Word On The Reef”

We welcome your comments and suggestions to make our newsletter even better!  Share topics of interest to you on Guam’s coral reefs or other sections you would like to see.

Guam on Coral Bleaching Watch

In August, Guam’s local scientists received reports of coral bleaching in Saipan due to the very warm water temperatures.  What exactly is coral bleaching?  It’s a process in which corals spit out their zooxanthellae (their main nutrional source) due to warmer water temperatures.  Just imagine when you’re sick and your body feels overheated making you suddenly want to throw up.  Without that nutrition, corals continue to get weaker and less resilient to other impacts such as sedimentation or disease.   On the up side, we took this as opportunity to share more information about coral bleaching with Guam residents so they can be “extra eyes” on the reefs for monitoring coral bleaching around the island.

WANTED poster shared with Guam's community to help document coral bleaching
WANTED poster shared with Guam’s community to help document coral bleaching

During our Coral Bleaching Info. Session,  volunteers learned more about what causes coral bleaching, potential impacts, and how they can help our scientists respond to a potential massive bleaching event.  We also spent a couple of hours with volunteers over on Saturdays snorkeling in the Piti Bomb Holes Marine Preserve to monitor and document bleaching and paling by taking photos with the assistance from some of our local scientists.

Volunteers team up with scientists to do some monitoring
Volunteers team up with scientists to do some monitoring
Photo taken by volunteer of bleaching Acropora sp.
Photo taken by volunteer of bleaching Acropora sp.
Photo taken by volunteer of bleaching soft corals
Photo taken by volunteer of bleaching soft corals

As warm water temperatures continued, Guam’s corals continue to bleach and local scientists have initiated data collection in various parts of the island, based on coral bleaching reports.   Another development that added to the situation, was the tropical depression that brought extremely heavy rains and strong gusts of wind to Guam.  The good news is that water temperature has cooled contributing to Guam’s Coral Bleaching Alert 1 status down to Coral Bleaching Watch, but the bad news is that heavy sediment and nutrient output may impact those already bleached corals.  Hopefully, with the help of the community and initial response plan of local scientists in place, Guam will be able to respond in the best way to the potential impacts of a bleaching event without anymore curveballs.

Learn more about coral bleaching and other community conservation efforts on Guam from the most recent locally-published newsletter – Man Land & Sea