of passive acoustics to assess, monitor, and protect the coral reef ecosystems
of the U.S. Pacific Islands
In addressing the two fundamental themes of The National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs, to understand coral reef ecosystems and reduce adverse human impacts, the Coral Reef Ecosystem Investigation (CREI) was established at NOAA Fisheries Honolulu Laboratory to assess, monitor, map, restore, and protect the coral reef ecosystems of the U.S. Pacific Islands. CREI activities include rapid ecological assessments of fish, corals, algae and invertebrates, towed diver digital video habitat and fish surveys, acoustic seabed classification surveys, towed video and still camera surveys, and in-situ and satellite remote sensing observations of oceanographic conditions. The in-situ oceanographic observations include closely spaced conductivity-temperature-depth-chlorophyll casts, acoustic Doppler current profiler surveys, long-term moored oceanographic buoys, surface velocity drifters, and APEX diurnally migrating profiling drifters. While the oceanographic moorings and satellite remote sensing allow high temporal resolution monitoring of the physical processes driving these ecosystems, the remoteness of these ecosystems prevents adequate temporal monitoring of the biological responses (surveys can only be conducted at 1-2 year intervals). CREI is involved in integrating and developing passive acoustic techniques to monitor aspects of the health of these remote ecosystems and to develop warning systems to alert scientists and resource managers of large changes or potential threats. Passive acoustic techniques are also proposed to monitor vessel traffic and illegal incursion into marine protected areas.