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Produce detailed, georeferenced, digital maps of the shallow-water
coral ecosystem habitats of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The Remote Sensing Team of NOAA's Center for Coastal Monitoring and
Assessment (CCMA) and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem
Reserve (NWHI CRER) of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP)
produced comprehensive, detailed maps of 2,360 sq km of the shallow-water
benthic habitats of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The products
include a web site and CD-ROM that provides access to digital geographic
information system (GIS) data, maps, and satellite imagery depicting
the location and distribution of shallow-water coral ecosystem habitats
This mapping effort is the second in a series of digital maps that
characterize coral ecosystem habitats. The maps have been produced by
CCMA and its partners for U.S. jurisdictions, including Florida; Puerto
Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the main eight Hawaiian Islands and
the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas.
Efforts are now underway to update the coral ecosystem habitat maps
of Florida and to explore mapping coral ecosystems in the U.S. Freely
Associated States, including the Republic of Palau, Republic of the
Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The recently completed maps are characterized by unprecedented detail,
and represent the first comprehensive assessment of benthic
habitats of the shallow water environments (less than 99 feet
water depth) in the NWHI. Thirty-four distinct benthic habitat types
(e.g., patch reef, unconsolidated sediment, etc.) within eleven unique
ecological zones (e.g., lagoon, reef crest, etc.) were mapped directly
into a GIS using a combination of semi-automated computerized and visual
interpretation of satellite images.
Detailed, GIS-based maps are needed of the coral ecosystem habitats
of the NWHI to support research, management, and conservation of critical
resources found in the region. The diverse, expansive and pristine shallow-water
coral ecosystems of the NWHI are unmatched anywhere else on Earth. This
ecosystem hosts a distinctive array of marine mammals, fish, sea turtles,
birds, and invertebrates, including species that are endemic, rare,
threatened, and endangered. Federally protected species include the
endangered Hawaiian monk seal and the threatened green sea turtle.
Reports and Publications
Completed: March 2003
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1305 East West Highway, #11415
Silver Spring, MD 20910