Monday, September 9, 2013

The 2013 Guam SECORE Project

An exciting new project is beginning on Guam!  The SECORE foundation was recently on Guam conducting a 10-day coral reproduction workshop with participants from all over the world.  SECORE (which stands for SExual COral REprodution) was started in 2002 by Dr. Dirk Petersen in the Netherlands.  Since 2002, SECORE has been established in the U.S. and become one of the leading coral conservation initiatives to involve research scientists, aquarium professionals, and local stakeholders from around the world.  SECORE specializes in the use of sexual coral recruits for reef restoration and conducts  workshops and projects at several research centers and aquariums around the world, and has now completed their first workshop in Guam.  As SECORE expands its collaborator pool, so expands the opportunities for coral reef conservation and restoration, and now Guam is part of these conservation efforts. 

Photo taken by Dave Burdick.
The relationship between Guam and SECORE began when Mike McCue, curator to Under Water World (UWW) aquarium, first heard about SECORE at an aquarium conference.  Seeing the value in getting coral scientists and aquarium professionals to work together towards coral conservation, Mike was able to connect with Dr. Dirk Petersen.  Their friendship grew and after years of discussion, Mike was able to convince Dr. Petersen that Guam would be the perfect location for coral conservation work, resulting in the recent workshop on Guam.  To make the workshop as effective as possible, Mike brought in the UOG Marine Laboratory (UOGML) director, Dr. Laurie Raymundo, and coral biologist and long-term coral reef monitoring coordinator, Mr. Dave Burdick (Bureau of Statistics and Plans – Guam Coastal Management Program), to contribute their local coral expertise and support for this project. 

On July 25th, Australia, the UK, South Africa, the Philippines, and the U.S.  These participants came just in time for coral spawning and they heard lectures, built aquaria, and collected coral larvae over the 10-day workshop period (July 25 – August 4).  Participants observed coral spawning of Acropora humilis, Acropora surculosa, Goniastrea retiformis, Acropora abrotanoides, and Galaxea fascicularis in the ocean.

At the UOG Marine Laboratory, participants were able to witness spawning and collect coral gametes from Acropora humilis and Acropora surculosa (broadcast spawners) and collect coral larvae from Leptastrea purpurea (a brooder).  The gametes that were collected from the spawners were allowed to fertilize and settle onto appropriate substrates in the laboratory.  Over the coming months, the corals will grow in the lab until they have reached an appropriate size which will give them the best odds of survival when transplanted into the ocean.  Along with the corals at the UOGML, there will also be coral growing in tanks at UWW once renovations have been completed (scheduled to be done in the next 6 months).  These facilities at UWW will allow the public to see first-hand how the corals are growing and will also keep them updated on the project.

Some of the other goals of the SECORE project on Guam are:

1) The creation of a small coral nursery in the ocean.  The nursery will provide a place for baby corals to grow in ambient conditions and will also provide insight into the differences between ambient and laboratory conditions and their affect on coral growth and health.

2) To expand its efforts to more species of Acropora corals, specifically those of the staghorn variety.  On Guam large patches of these corals have undergone significant decline over the years.  With the help of the SECORE project, Guam may be able to help these staghorn patches regenerate, restoring patches of reef and ecosystem function. 

The Guam SECORE project is a multiyear coral conservation program focusing on developing new techniques for large-scale coral reef restoration.   As the project continues, look for more/new information on the SECORE website (   You can also contact the local partners in charge of this project: Dr. Laurie Raymundo at the UOG Marine Laboratory, Mr. Mike McCue at UWW, and Mr. Dave Burdick with the Bureau of Statistics and Plans—Guam Coastal Management Program.

To view photo album, visit the One Micronesia Facebook page by clicking here.

Posted by
Roxanna Miller

7:41 pm
Friday, August 28, 2013
Location: Hagatna, Guam

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Humåtak Project

Back in November 2012 the Micronesia Challenge posted a short article about the Humåtak Project. This project is a community effort working to revive Guam’s watersheds, coral reefs, and fisheries using watershed restoration activities.  The project began in 2002 after local fisherman noticed a decline  in fish catch, which they attributed to excessive sedimentation on the reef.  The goals of the project are to: 1) build awareness of environmental issues through educational and community outreach, 2) treat sources of sedimentation by implementing erosion control practices, and 3) improve the science of mitigating for impacts to coral reefs and other aquatic resources by monitoring changes in sedimentation rates and coral reef health. 

Over the past couple years this project has become quite visible with the help of Austin Shelton, the project coordinator, and the community of Humåtak.  With presentations at the 2012 and 2013 Guam Island Sustainability Conference and educational hikes focused on the watershed restoration projects currently underway within the La Sa Fu’a Watershed,  the project is gaining momentum and support.  Since this project addresses resource issues in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, Austin has teamed up with a variety of local and federal natural resource agencies, educational institutions, community groups, and local environmental educational organizations to help the project reach its goals.  Through tree plantings, sediment sock installations, public outreach, community meetings, and follow-up tree fertilization, watershed restoration has begun.  

So, what’s next?  

The project will now begin monitoring coral reef health in Fouha Bay to assess the progress of the watershed restoration efforts.  This is where the Long-term Coral Reef Monitoring Program Team  (GCMP) comes in!  Biologists with the Bureau of Statistics and Plans – Guam Coastal Management Program, the University of Guam Marine Lab, and the NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office have been monitoring coral reefs at different sites around Guam since 2010 (for more information on the monitoring program see the post from March 2012).  With their knowledge of Guam’s coral reef ecosystems and monitoring experience, they will help the Humåtak Project reach their third goal – assessing if the watershed restoration efforts are improving the health of the reef ecosystem.  To help figure this out, three different types of indicators of reef ecosystem health will be assessed and monitored: water quality, coral habitat, and associated biological communities (e.g., reef fishes, crown of thorns sea stars, sea cucumbers, trochus, and other ecologically and economically important reef organisms).  

Austin has begun monitoring water quality by placing sediment traps and multiparameter datasondes throughout the bay.  These datasondes collect data about turbidity (cloudiness of the water), temperature, and salinity, and when combined with the sediment trap data, will tell us how much sediment is coming into the bay and how it is affecting the quality of the water in the bay.

The monitoring program team will be monitoring ecosystem health through regular assessments of coral habitat and associated biological communities.  The specific parameters to be monitored are benthic cover, coral colony size, coral health, fish diversity and biomass, and the abundance of commercially and ecologically important macroinvertebrates.  Once all the data has been collected it will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Humåtak Project.  Our hope is to see a revived watershed with a healthy coral reef ecosystem which supports the communities within the La Sa Fu’a watershed.

As this project is still underway, you can keep updated with its progress by checking out the Humåtak Project website at, check their Facebook page at, or by emailing the project coordinator at

Also, if you are looking for a way to get involved in this great project, consider joining the Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program in their surveys of Fouha Bay.  Check them out here:

Posted by
Roxanna Miller
1:50 pm

Friday, May 24, 2013
Location: Hagatna, Guam

Thursday, February 28, 2013

NOAA Coral Fellow Report

Hafa adai from the nation’s capital!

As the Guam NOAA Coral Fellow for 2013-3014, I recently had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for some training. Not only did this travel give me the opportunity to see how the city has changed since the last time I was there (1994), I was also able to meet the six other Coral Fellows, the Coral Fellowship Program Manager, and learn some valuable project evaluation and leadership tools. [It also forced me to dig in the back of my closet and borrow cold-weather clothes!] While there, I, along with all the other fellows, participated in Coral Fellowship orientation and training, we developed our work plans for the year, were introduced to the All Islands Committee (AIC) and Steering Committee of the USCRTF, and attended the USCRTF Business Meeting. It was a busy, and cold, four days, but it was extremely rewarding in many ways.

As the Coral Fellows are spread out around the world (Guam, CNMI, American Samoa, Hawaii, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the USVI), this was our first opportunity to meet each other and the program managers. We had the opportunity to discuss our projects and plans for the year, getting feedback from each other on some successful ways to approach those projects, and, since many of the jurisdictions are insular, we were able to discuss some of the challenges and triumphs each island experiences. Not only did we receive valuable training to help us move forward in our projects, but we were able to form a community of support for each other, providing useful information and advice on each other’s projects. To find out more about this year’s fellows and their projects, check out the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program’s website (

NOAA Coral Fellows at the USCRTF Meeting (from left to right): Jenn Travis (USVI), Derek
Toloumu (American Samoa), Karen Bohnsack (Florida), Anne Rosinski (Hawaii), Jeiger Medina (Puerto
Rico), Roxanna Miller (Guam), Britta Baechler (CNMI)
 After our training, we attended the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting. Every year the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) holds two meetings—one in Washington D.C. at the beginning of the year, and the second meeting in one of the seven jurisdictions later in the year. These meetings bring together members from at least 12 Federal agencies; 7 US States, Territories, and Commonwealths; and 3 Freely Associated States. They gather to discuss their efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. Established by Executive Order 13089 in 1998, the USCRTF is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Executive Order, and developing and implementing coordinated efforts to map and monitor U.S. coral reefs; research the causes of, and solutions to, coral reef decline; reduce and mitigate coral reef degradation from pollution, overfishing, and other causes; and implement strategies to promote conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs internationally (for more information go to:

Some of the topics discussed at this year’s meeting were the final review of the National Ocean Policy, the proposed listing of 66 coral species under the Endangered Species Act, and an update on the USCRTF Watershed Partnership Initiative.

It was wonderful to meet so many brilliant people who are excited about what they are doing with all their different projects. On Guam, we are just as excited about our monitoring program and can’t wait to get back in the water. Stay tuned for updates from what will be an amazing year, I’m sure!

Posted by
Roxanna Miller
8:24 pm

Friday, February 28, 2013
Location: Hagatna, Guam