26 Sep 2011

New CNMI monitoring system to give early warning signs on corals

5:55 am on 26 September 2011

Scientists in the Northern Mariana Islands hope a new coral monitoring system can give them early warning signs against environmental threats to coral reefs.

The new Cruise Integrated Coral Observing Network, a first of its kind in the Pacific region, has been established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Lao Lao Bay on Saipan.

A marine biologist at the CNMI Division of Environmental Quality Steven Johnson says the station measures and transmits data including air temperature, wind speed, precipitation, sea temperature and salinity.

"Of course one of the main threats to our reefs around the world is coral bleaching. So the nice thing about this is that we have three temperature censors. So one right at the surface, one right at two metres and one at ten metres. And we can constantly monitor the temperature data on that. And most corals will bleach around 30 degrees Celsius."

Steven Johnson says the system can also indicate the level of stress placed on coral from heavy rain, strong winds and rough water.