Ocean Discoveries: 2012 Nancy Foster Mapping Mission: Field Notes/Day 10 – Reef Smart Puerto Rico: Bringing Coral Reef Ecosystem Science to Policy and Decision Makers

By Alicia Clarke, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

Reef Smart—A Coral Reef Ecosystem Education Initiative is a newly funded project to increase awareness of coral reef ecosystem research and conservation stories from across the Coral Reef Conservation Program and from local agencies and NGO partners. Credit: NOAA/Zhe Liu

Today was our last day in port, but before we went back out to sea the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster played host to some very special guests as part of a series of unique community outreach activities called ‘Reef Smart”—A Coral Reef Ecosystem Education Initiative.  This expedition to map Puerto Rico’s coral reef ecosystems and fish habitats offered the perfect platform for NCCOS and the Coral Reef Conservation Program to introduce its collaborative work to multiple audiences, including: teachers, students, policy makers, managers, partners and stakeholders. Reef Smart’s ultimate goal is to increase awareness of coral reef ecosystem research and conservation through education. 

Representatives from the governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as leadership from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan joined us for a day at sea where they experienced sea floor and fish habitat data collection. They also heard first-hand stories from local managers about the importance of research supported by NCCOS and the Coral Program in keys areas like Guanica, the Northeast Marine Ecological Corridor, La Parguera and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Reef Smart Day at Sea participants engage NOAA leadership in a conversation about local coral reef conservation efforts. Front from left to right: Daniel Galan, Secretary of Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources; Maria Teresa Carro, Counsel to the Congressmen Pedro R. Pierluisi; and Alicia Barnes, U.S. Virgin Islands Dept. of Planning & Natural Resources Commissioner. Back standing from left to right: Mark Blankenship, NOAA Corps and Tim Battista NCCOS and mission lead. Credit: NOAA/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch

ROV dive technician Glenn Taylor shows off the ROV to  guests on the back deck. Image: Credit: NOAA/NCCOS/CCMA/ Biogeography Branch

A special thanks to the crew of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster for supporting this Reef Smart event! Stay tuned for more Reef Smart outreach events aboard the Nancy Foster including Kids Day and an open house for managers and academic researchers.

Ahead of the Storm
The Reef Smart event concluded just as some foreboding, dark clouds made their way across the area. The weather forecast predicts strong winds and choppy 9 to 11-foot seas in some places. Heeding that warning, we quickly lifted the gangway and set sail ahead of the storm to collect multibeam data for the next 16-18 hours. Tonight, the multibeam crew will survey the seafloor in the middle portion of the study area and if the weather holds out, we’ll deploy the ROV tomorrow morning and head back to San Juan in the late afternoon to ride out the storm. 

A view from the back of the ship of the approaching storm clouds as we leave the pier in downtown San Juan and away from the storm. Credit: NOAA/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch

The sky doesn’t look nearly so menacing from the bow. Looks like we’re heading in the right direction! Credit: NOAA/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch 

To see the the Nancy Foster throughout the 2012 mapping mission, visit the NOAA ship tracker site and click on “Enter NOAA’s Ship Tracker link, then scroll down to “NF – Nancy Foster” in the box on the upper right of the screen to see where she is at any given time!

Be sure to visit this blog often for field updates, pictures and videos posted by members of the science team.

This entry was posted in Benthic Mapping, Biogeography Branch, Caribbean, Caribbean Research, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment, Marine Regional Planning, Nancy Foster Exploration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA's National Ocean Service, Ocean Exploration, Ocean Field Work, Ocean Research and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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