Monday, December 31, 2012

Adios 2012!

This year has sure flown by! And in that time we’ve been able to get a lot of work done with the monitoring program. Between acquiring all the equipment needed for fieldwork (SCUBA tanks, boat charter, new dive gear, and underwater camera equipment) and the survey training/calibration exercises, it was a couple of months before the fieldwork could start in July.

But once all the office work was done, we were more than ready to get in the water! In addition to setting up a new monitoring site in Piti Bay, we were able to collect a second year of benthic data from all of Tumon’s stations and also from all permanent stations at East Agana Bay. Since we now have two years of data from Tumon and East Agana Bay, we can make comparisons between these years to determine the latest status and trends of the health of these reef areas. And with the addition of data from subsequent years, we will have an even better understanding of the processes acting on and affecting Guam’s reefs.

One process that negatively affects Guam’s reefs is pollution. There was never a clearer picture of this than a recent video posted by the curator of Guam’s UnderWater World, Mike McCue (video can be found here). McCue found an area of reef off shore from the Agat Cemetery riddled with garbage—mostly aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Whether it’s an issue of the garbage being dumped or the currents bringing it to this area, the reality is that this garbage is making its way into the ocean – a place where it should not be. Through this video, McCue raised awareness of the issue and a cleanup was organized in which I was able to participate! Approximately 25 bags of trash and recyclables were pulled off the reef, including a mattress.

Volunteers pitch in!  Photo Dave Burdick
Not only is garbage in the water an eyesore, it is also bad for the environment. When the garbage enters the water it can contaminate the water with any substances that are in it. For example, in a can of bug spray, if that gets into the water the bug poison can leach out into the water, possibly poisoning the animals that live there. Also, when something heavy falls into the water, on its way to the bottom it can fall onto and break corals along the way. This not only damages the corals but can open them up to infection where they break. The garbage also moves around with wave action and currents, which can also break and damage coral. Still, other animals in the ocean may see the garbage and think its food.

Here are a few easy ways you can help keep garbage out of the ocean.

1. Whenever you have a piece of garbage, make sure you put it in a trash can and make sure to cover it so it does not blow out.
2. Don’t leave your garbage at the beach, but take it home to get thrown away.
3. When your garbage is full, take it to the landfill; never leave your garbage along the road or in the forest.
4. If you have aluminum cans or plastic bottles, take them to be recycled instead of throwing
them in the garbage because keeping recyclables out of the landfill can help the landfill last

Next time you have piece of garbage, think about the ocean and what you want it to look like. Help keep garbage out of the ocean and keeps Guam’s ocean healthy!

ted by

Roxanna Miller
10:50 am

Monday, December 31, 2012
Location: Hagatna, Guam