What's really interesting about Palau's reefs is that they're about 0.3-0.4 points more acidic on the logarithmic pH scale (corresponding to a ~25% increase in acidity) than average Pacific waters. And while you'd expect that high acidity to result in ecological devastation (as scientists have predicted and are already beginning to observe in some reef ecosystems), Palau's reefs (as detailed by WHOI Ph.D. candidate Hanna Barkley in this fascinating NOVA piece) are thriving.
“The first time I jumped in Nikko Bay it was just breathtaking,” [Barkley] says. The reef was more colorful, rich, and diverse than any reef she’d ever dived on, and this was before the team knew how acidified it was. Learning that these corals were living in extreme conditions made it all the more amazing.
By now, thousands of water samples, numerous measurements, and myriad experiments over the seven trips to Palau have left the team confident about the response of corals to conditions in places like Nikko Bay. In the acidified spots, coral cover is high, diversity is high, and the reefs appear to be healthy.
Pemuteran Bay's coral reefs are once again teeming with life thanks to Biorock -- an electrically-powered coral reef growing scheme.
Coral is placed on underwater electrified steel frames that are connected to a power source on land. The electrification speeds up a process called "mineral accretion" that helps damaged corals grow and repair themselves.
"Living corals are carefully collected and transplanted onto the structures by attaching with wires or wedged between (electric) steel bars," says Naranya Randall Dodge, project manager of the Pemuteran Coral Regeneration Project.
Lee is testing a new way to map individual coral colonies by their size, color, and texture, and create 3D models that scientists can examine cheaply in a lab. Last winter, Lee went to the Maldives — site of a recent large bleaching event — to test his new tool.
Lee dove with a waterproof camera to take nearly 200,000 images of the reefs from every angle. Then he uploaded the photos to Autodesk rendering software, stitching them together into a high-resolution model. Later this year, he’ll return to the same corals, then use the before-and-after visualizations to see exactly how they have fared.
Residents in Oceana County spotted some unusual visitors Monday--a flock of pelicans.
Phil Bower contacted the WZZM 13 Information Center after spotting at least 26 white American pelicans bobbing in Lake Michigan.
The pelican sighting is unusual, but not unheard of, according to Chuck Pistis of the Michigan Sea Grant Extension program.
"I've seen a handful over the years," he told the Grand Haven Tribune when a pelican was spotted in Spring Lake two years ago.