Benthic Habitat Maps Support Development of Biological Monitoring Program in Palau
Digital maps of Palau’s seafloor and coral reef habitats recently completed by National Centers for C0astal Ocean Science researchers will serve as a key piece in establishing a biological monitoring program in Palau. This product will support Palau in meeting the goals of the Micronesian Challenge, a call on Micronesian nations to conserve 30 percent of near shore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources by 2020. In addition, the data and maps will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of local marine conservation areas and will identify new areas for protection. The maps and geospatial data were developed in cooperation with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Republic of Palau, and are the result of the first comprehensive assessment of the extent and types of Palau’s coral reefs. The study reveals that live coral covers approximately 35 percent of Palau’s shallow-water sea floor, a high percentage relative to other areas that NOAA has mapped. The maps, data, and associated information are available online http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/products/biogeography/palau/.