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 of marine life, like these images from dives near Orona Island.
In a previous post we discussed evidence of human influence on the terrestrial side of Orona: ancient Polynesian villages, a more recent (2001) settlement project that was rather short-lived. But there is underwater evidence as well. For example, abandoned anchors off of old ships lying undisturbed amidst the corals.
|Anchor left on the reef|
|A lone shark swims over a reef of encrusted coral skeletons|
|Reef herbivores (Acanthurids) graze turf and macroalgae off the reef|
|And the fish just keep on coming.... even in the depths|
|...And in the shallows|