Luis Camilli -MLML, O. Pizarro - U of Sydney, R. Camilli – WHOI.
Pacific coral habitats were surveyed to chemically characterize euphotic zone water masses while optically capturing patterns of reef architecture, diversity, and benthic morphology. Multi-scale, spatially contiguous data were collected in the Gulf of Chiriquí using conventional SCUBA methods in concert with a towed chemical sensor platform and a stereo camera dive sled. Acoustic bathymetry, 3-D optical imaging, in-situ underwater mass spectrometry, CTD, chlorophyll, and CDOM, coupled with precision navigation, enabled high resolution comparisons of coastal and island habitats. Salinity/ CDOM / CH4 / CO2 relationships suggest abrupt, complex mixing of terriginous and anthropogenic input near oligotrophic waters being mitigated by cold, hypersaline pulses that potentially affect sessile assemblages. Spatially dense chlorophyll data collected over 300km transects permitted thorough SeaWiFs groundtruthing. Chemical measurements and reef mosaics were integrated into a G.I.S. to create thematic water chemistry and benthic habitat maps for the Republic of Panamá. Ecological information was extracted in order to identify threatened areas and prioritize conservation objectives for surrounding islands and coastal marine provinces outside of the protective domain of Coiba Island National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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