January 2015 - Update on the reef study process

First, we want to begin this update by offering our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped this remarkable process to manifest and grow. The strength of your response has given us the confidence and inspiration to keep moving forward, and your expressions of support and encouragement keep the absolute importance of the entire process always before us.

Since the visit from the University of the South Pacific’s reef team in September, we have been working to integrate what we learned and look ahead toward our next steps. During their visit, Cherie, Lai, and Ben not only carried out their surveys on the reef, they also helped to open up a dialogue about making sure that all Island residents and staff are fully educated and comply with sustainable fishing practices on the reef. This is an essential dimension of our care for the reef now and into the future.

We still have a window of opportunity for an additional visit by the USP team during the University’s semester break in late January/early February, and are considering the possibilities with them. As always, the logistics require creativity and cooperation to make these wonderful visits possible.

Each visit from the reef team has opened entirely new vistas as we see and understand more about the reef. September’s visit was a first opportunity for Island residents with scuba certification to join the team using scuba equipment for the deep dives outside the reef.

Now, as a result we have seen much more “in depth” understanding of the outer reef and have gathered a photographic record of the conditions at each of the study sites around the reef.

This has given us a better understanding of the unique habitats in each part of the reef, and how they fit together as a total system. The protected “no-fishing” areas on the reef and lagoon that we have maintained for the past decade were created to serve as sanctuaries within the reef that can serve its re-growth and regeneration. Working with the reef team, we are now able to gather evidence of their effectiveness and see what more we can do to support the process.

So as our work continues, we will be working to develop a broad-based understanding of the forces and processes that have formed and shaped Naitauba’s reef that will enable us to support its continued life and vitality.

To complete this update, we offer a small sampling of the 2000+ photos that we took during the reef team’s September visit—a tiny glimpse of the overwhelming immensity, richness, and diversity of Naitauba’s beautiful coral reef.