Rapid Swath Mapping of Reef Ecology and Associated Water Column Chemistry


Richard Camilli, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, WHOI
Brian Bingham, Olin College, WHOI Guest Investigator

Oscar Pizarro, University of Sydney Australian Centre for Field Robotics, WHOI Guest Investigator

This proposal seeks to characterize pristine and degraded coral reef habitats along the Western Isthmus of Panamá using conventional SCUBA diver ecological transect mapping along with advanced in-situ 3-D imaging, mass spectrometry, and precise acoustic navigation. The surveys will provide insight into fundamental metabolic processes of photosynthesis and respiration while optically characterizing reef structure, bathymetry, and spatial heterogeneity of marine organisms. This information will improve understanding of natural and human dynamics affecting tropical reef systems within the Pacific Biological Corridor. The study will provide critical baseline ecological information for future marine conservation on nearby islands and coastal areas that are biologically linked, although outside the Coiba National Park. Furthermore, we will use this study to identify priority conservation areas in the Veraguas and Chiriquí marine provinces and create thematic GIS habitat maps for the Republic of Panamá, fostering further international scientific collaboration.