This week the Catlin Seaview Survey Shallow Reef team is deploying in the Solomon Islands, a truly ocean nation made up of some 992 islands. We will be surveying the condition of coral reefs in this area for the next two weeks using the SVII high resolution panoramic camera system. This is the fifth survey location as part of our 2014 focus on the Coral Triangle region and all of the data collected will be made publically available via the Catlin Global Reef Record.
Whilst in the Solomon Islands we will be travelling in partnership with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, on board their fantastic research vessel the M/Y Golden Shadow. This group is a non-profit ocean research and environmental science organization based in Washington DC. The organization was established to help preserve, protect and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources. The Living Oceans Foundation do this primarily by conducting coral reef research and through educational outreach to fishermen, residents, and schoolchildren in the coastal and island communities they visit.
Since 2008 the Golden Shadow has been involved in the Global Reef Expedition (GRE), a coordinated mission utilizing cutting-edge techniques to measure and record the state of coral reefs in remote locations around the world. This project includes characterizing and mapping the extent and distribution of reefs, measuring the abundance of fishes and understanding their functional roles, understanding the effects of the major threats to reefs, and how corals can resist, survive and rapidly recover from disturbance.
The information gathered on this survey will support the ongoing efforts in the Solomon Islands to establish a network of marine protected areas. This national goal identified by the Solomon Islands means to build on a tradition of strong local tenure to codify community-managed regulations for fisheries and coral resources.
Currently only 0.5% of the reef area in this country is officially protected, but there is promise to build on this to create a lasting system of protected areas that also support the needs of local small-scale fisheries. One such interesting location we will visit is the Morovo lagoon, the world's largest double barrier reef lagoon system. W.M. Davis, a geologist from Harvard University and one of the first comprehensive observers of tropical reef types, wrote in 1938 "the coral seas afford no finer exemplification of Darwin's theory of barrier reef formation than Morovo". The region is a proposed World Heritage Area, and supports considerable local subsistence fishing and a growing dive tourism industry. We are looking forward to surveying in this storied location, and to providing information that can help refine and improve future conservation efforts.
The world’s oceans, and particularly coral reefs, are in danger everywhere from human pressures. The Living Oceans Foundation recognizes the need to both take a global perspective on this issue and to return pertinent information to local authorities. We at the Catlin Seaview Survey also believe in this multi-scale approach, and we are pleased to be collaborating with the Living Oceans Foundation for this expedition to the Solomon Islands.