Researchers back on dry land

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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BACK ON DRY LAND: The N.O.A.A Research Vessel. (Photo Inset) Dr. Joseph M. O’Malley.

BACK ON DRY LAND: The N.O.A.A Research Vessel. (Photo Inset) Dr. Joseph M. O’Malley.

The group of Scientists from the United States, American Samoa and Samoa are back after a week of research out at sea.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A) led the joint research between foreign and local researchers to survey fish species, coral reefs and collect oceanographic data around the Samoan Archipelago.

Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) represented Samoa.

Dr. Joseph M. O’Malley, a Research Fisheries Biologist of N.O.A.A, said the research was successful largely due to the help of the local officials.

 “They helped us out tremendously and we managed to collaborate on some of their work like their coral bleaching and their sea grass surveys around Manono Island,” he said. “They jumped right into work; they stayed up with us in the early mornings and all night long, they were involved in every aspect of our research; they were great from the actual fishing to the surveys and then the process of the fish afterwards. They did great.”

Now that the field work is complete it is straight to the laboratories for the scientists.

“With a lot of our research we won’t know anything until we get back to the lab and look at the biological specimens that we collected,” Dr. O’Malley said.

“But M.N.R.E already has some results available on coral bleaching, but there doesn’t seem to be anything significant about the bleaching here in Samoa compared to the places like the Great Barrier Reef and some other areas.

“As for us right now we can only provide information to the Fisheries department on the fish we caught and their size frequency distribution, but the real findings won’t be available until about a year because it involves a lot of laboratory analysis and we have to make the papers and reports; it’s just the nature of our work.”

One of the aims for N.O.A.A in coming to Samoa was to be able to research the full Samoan archipelago as opposed to their usual routine of visiting only American Samoa. Dr. O’Malley saw that as only ‘half of Samoa’ but not much will be known on their research until they get back to base.

“We will be heading now to Honolulu to start working on the specimens that we collected here, and the N.O.A.A ship has another survey in American Samoa,” he said. “So the ship rotates from the different research cruises.”

Dr. O’Malley concluded with a word of thanks to Samoa.

“We had a great time working here and I feel that we have accomplished a lot,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to coming back and we are grateful for Samoa and the Samoan researchers for allowing us to collaborate and work in your waters.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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