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Last updateWed, 18 Sep 2019 12am







    Tuesday, September 17, 2019-6:11:47P.M.






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Reef Tips | Protecting our reefs

Coral reefs provide many benefits for the community including food, shoreline protection, and tourism.  Protecting our marine life in the CNMI is essential for present and future generations.

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The CNMI Marine Monitoring Team (CNMI MMT) are our doctors of the reef. They collect data yearly on 52 long term monitoring sites across Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. These sites were selected based on association with management concerns such as runoff, sewage outfall, and urban development. They were also selected based on management actions such as watershed restoration efforts and marine protected areas (MPA). This is to determine the current status and changes the reef has throughout the years. Without this information, immediate action cannot be taken to prevent damages to our reef.

CNMI MMT follows a procedure that requires scuba divers to gather data at a depth of 25 meters.They collect data by taking photos each meter along five transect lines per site. The transect lines used are 50-meter ropes with markings used to indicate every meter. These photos are then taken back to the office and transferred into a Coral Point Count with Excel extensions (CPCe) system. 150 photos are uploaded per site. Each photo contains five random points placed by the CPCe and are identified by CNMI MMT biologists. They identify the genus of coral, algae, sponges, and invertebrate. Having randomized points allows the data to be accurate. After completing a site on CPCe the data is transferred into the database with data from previous years along with data from different sites.

The data allows the CNMI MMT to observe changes in the coral reef and take proper action needed to protect and conserve it. This is done through marine protected areas (MPA) and restoration projects. The action taken is essential to allow our coral reef a healthy growing environment. Without these protection efforts we risk decreasing our food, shoreline protection, and tourism.