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Benthic Habitat Maps Support Development of Biological Monitoring in Hawaii

Digital maps and an atlas of the seafloor and coral reef habitats for the main Hawaiian Islands were recently completed by National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science researchers. These products will serve as a key piece to support local monitoring strategies across the islands and ultimately assess the effectiveness of marine protected areas in Hawaii. The maps and geospatial data were developed in cooperation with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and several partners in Hawaii. The study reveals that the percentage of live coral cover is greatest on the island of Hawaii at 57 percent, and lowest surrounding Niihau and Kaula at only 4 percent. The maps, data, and associated information are available online for download.

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force charged NOAA with the development and implementation of a plan to produce comprehensive digital coral reef ecosystem maps for all U.S. States, Territories, and Pacific Freely Associated states. To date, NOAA has completed mapping efforts in eight jurisdictions (American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Main Hawaiian Islands, Northwest Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, Republic of Palau, and US Virgin Islands).

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Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=1458

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