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Establishing world-class coral reef ecosystem monitoring in Okinawa
Date:9/16/2013

Enduring two typhoons over a three-week period in August, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers, working in partnership with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), have successfully deployed an OceanCube Observatory System in waters off Motobu Peninsula, Japan -- a biodiversity hotspot that is home to ecologically significant coral reefs. The observatory system enables real-time monitoring of temperature, salinity, and other chemical, biological and physical data critical to understanding the health of and changes in the coral reef ecosystem.

Okinawa is situated at the northernmost end of the border between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. The coral reefs there support the highest diversity of endemic species, plants and animals in the world. These coral reefs are also economically valuable, generating as much as 3 trillion yen ($30 billion) globally, and 250 billion yen ($2.5 billion) in Japan.

Long-term, uninterrupted data collection and observations from coral reefs are essential to understanding the changes these ecosystems are undergoing. "The extensive coral reefs and diverse fish communities in this area will provide a fantastic backdrop to study the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification," said Dr. Scott Gallager, WHOI Associate Scientist and principal investigator on the project.

OceanCube Observatories are developed by WHOI engineers, biologists, and chemists who have a vision of observing pieces of the ocean at a very high resolution at a reasonable cost in order to answer scientific questions that previously could not be answered.

"We designed the OceanCube observatories specifically to understand changes in species, nutrients, and energy through a control volume of water. Comparing sites allows us to decouple changes due to natural and human causes," added Gallager.

The OceanCube is so called because the observatory monitors a controlle
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Contact: WHOI Media Relations
media@whoi.edu
508-289-3340
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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