Two Marine Debris Program staffers are participating in NOAA’s annual mission to remove derelict nets and other marine debris from sensitive coral reefs and shorelines in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. About 50 tons of derelict fishing gear washes up in the Monument each year, threatening the pristine ecosystem. Follow their journey.
By: Kyle and Dianna
After four days of transit, we arrived this morning at Maro Reef, where we plan to work for the rest of the week. The divers will start by methodically surveying the reef structure, based on maps produced by our in-house GIS team. They are looking for derelict nets to remove, but they are also checking the coral for injuries from the nets and any other oddities they find down there. The marine debris team has not been to this area since 2009, so we are prepared for anything. We’ll post more about what we find, but in the meantime, here are three things you should know about Maro Reef:
1. Size and shape: According to the Monument: “Maro Reef is the largest coral reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with over 1,934 square kilometers (approximately 746 square miles or 478,000 acres) of reef area. Unlike the classic ring-shaped atoll, Maro is a complex maze of linear reefs that radiate out from the center like the spokes of a wheel. It is named after the whaling ship Maro, which traveled these waters in 1820.”
2. Diver’s favorite fact: Maro Reef is known for murky water, strong currents, and Galapagos sharks. No doubt we will see a few.
3. Hawaiian name: Ko‘anako‘a