Nikumaroro Island Underwater

This is blog entry posted from the field during the 2012 Phoenix Islands Marine Protected Area (PIPA) Expedition. The Phoenix Islands are an isolated island chain more than 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. They are part of the island nation of Kiribati, which partnered with the New England Aquarium and Conservation International to create PIPA in 2008. Today it is one of the world's largest marine protected areas and a UNESCO world heritage site. This voyage is part of a regular series of scientific expeditions to investigate coral health and study ecosystems and biodiversity.

Photographer Keith Ellenbogen, a regular Aquarium blog contributor, is on the expedition capturing stunning underwater photos. These images are from dives near Nikumaroro Island.

Now that you've seen Nikumaroro from the air, it's time to dive down and see the reefs below.

Colorful green Halimeda algae and pink crustose coralline algae
covering a mound of dead coral substrate (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

Atop the large plates of mounding Porites corals is the perfect place for an underwater cleaning station. This grouper is actually being cleaned by a tiny wrasse (see the blue and black striped fish to the right?). (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

The silvery surface waters of Nikumaroro are home are far from empty...Scomberoides lysan(queenfish) and Elagatis bipinnulata(rainbow runner) abound! (Fish ID by Dr. Les Kaufman)
(Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

A school of herbivorous convict tangs feeding on turf algae (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

A scrubby coral forest regrows in the shallows (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

Herbivory in action! (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

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