Kiritimati – 2018
Dates: December 3- 20, 2018
Partners: Kiribati Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD) , Centre of Island Research and Environmental Observatory (CRIOBE)
Scripps Institution of Oceanography:
Dr. Brian Zgliczynski, Postdoctoral Researcher
Lindsay Bonito, Staff Researcher
Sho Kodera, Graduate Student
Centre of Island Research and Environmental Observatory:
Gilles Siu, Research Staff
Marguerite Taiarui, Research Staff
The Sandin and Smith labs have a long history of working in the Line Islands and the Republic of Kiribati starting in 2009 assessing the fish, benthic and microbial communities. Most recently, a team conducted a few photomosaic surveys in 2012 near the village of London, which the current team hoped to find and re-survey during the 2018 deployment.
The 100IC team worked in conjunction with the Kiritimati Ministry of Fisheries, the Kiribati Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD), and two members of the Polynesia Mana team from CRIOBE. Together, the team was able to survey thirteen sites in total and deploy four temperature loggers around the NW side of Kiritimati. The team attempted to find four of the five survey sites from 2012, but only managed to successfully re-survey one site (KIR_B7). There has been significant storm damage to the reefs surveyed in 2012, so locating the establishing sites six years after installation was challenging. The team noticed dramatic shifts in the benthos (e.g. hard bottom to sand) at some sites (KIR_B1), due to sand movement likely from these storm events. Although the reefs along the NW coast of Kiritimati have seen a fair amount of mortality from the warm water event of 2015/2016, the team saw many signs of recovery. The amount of juvenile fishes and corals in addition to benthic calcifiers (crustose coralline algae and halimeda) point to a state of recovery for the reefs.
Kiritimati is the most populous island within the Line Island archipelago. The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world, about 388 square km and its lagoon is roughly the same size. Kiritimati comprises over 70% of the total land area of Kiribati, a country encompassing 33 Pacific atolls and islands (Line Islands, Gilbert Islands, and Phoenix Islands).