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Once we have the chlorophyll levels and symbiont counts we need to know the surface area of each fragment. This gives us a number per centimeter since a larger or more heavily branched fragment can have more symbionts or chlorophyll than a smaller one. There are several ways to achieve this. One method is by dipping it in wax for a precise time and determining the difference in the initial and ending weights. We then normalize them to flat reference fragments of the same species to find the estimated surface area.

Once we have the chlorophyll levels and symbiont counts we need to know the surface area of each fragment.

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We even have a former fashion designer/color expert turned marine biologist who is calibrating our shades of color. See how you rank on the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test in visually determining differences in hues. Evaluate your ability to distinguish hues.

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Once we have obtained a range of shades through these techniques we must them validate them in the field to authenticate their range and accuracy. We also are working with students, community groups, and recreational divers to determine the extent of observer bias and error.

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This reference card will be used by managers responsible for Hawai‘i’s reefs, students to further education about climate change, community based management groups that are monitoring the reefs in their area, researchers , commercial dive operations, and volunteer groups assessing reef health. Together we can gather a large database that can be used to look for patterns. Information from the Hawaiian Ko‘a wheel can help develop management strategies for dealing with coral bleaching and recovery.

  • The health of coral reefs throughout the state can be evaluated using this tool. Initially, the state of the reefs must be determined before declines can be reversed. This will aid in identification of areas where management efforts should focus.
  • Widespread use of the coral assessment wheel will help detect areas of refuge that are more resilient to climate change by identifying regions with low occurrence of bleaching.
  • The Hawaiian Ko‘a card will give individuals and communities a sense of kuleana (responsibility) and mālama (stewardship) for the reefs in their ‘ahupua‘a (land division).
  • The education provided about bleaching and the ability to directly experience the visual transformation in the corals can be a force for change that can be passed on.
  • Assessment data can be of service in evaluating how efficient management efforts are in reducing climate impacts.
  • Once bleaching is quantified it can be linked to temperature to eliminate other extraneous factors that can also cause bleaching (sediment, pollutants, high nutrients). We have over 50 temperature loggers deployed statewide and have a close relationship with state managers and researchers who also collect temperature data. This will give us widespread coverage of temperatures that can be linked to bleaching reports.
  • This project can provide support for the state’s objective to effectively managing 30% of Hawai‘i’s reefs by the year 2030 by defining the health of our reefs. This can only be achieved in collaboration with the community, researchers, and educators. Understanding precedes effective management action.
  • Observation is critical in determining the condition of reefs. The color gradients on the assessment card will train ocean users to detect slight color differences and relate this to coral health.
  • Measurable baselines and subsequent declines can be established for reefs statewide.
  • Statewide assessment data derived from this project will be incorporated into the ridge to reef database to increase spatial and temporal recognition of changes in the mauka/makai (ridge to reef) connection.