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Students to survey reefs in weekends

Saturday August 01, 2020 Written by Published in Environment
Temata Patai carrying a quadrat used to survey the benthic community of the Avarua fore reef habitat. 20073110 Temata Patai carrying a quadrat used to survey the benthic community of the Avarua fore reef habitat. 20073110

Learning basic marine survey techniques makes a big difference. 

Teenagers used their holidays and their new scuba certificates to make a major contribution to surveys of the health of Rarotonga’s reef – most notably, helping find predatory taramea starfish.

And now school is back, they plan to continue the work in their weekends,

In the past two years, Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau – through its ‘Ātuianga ki te Tango and school awareness programmes – has been introducing marine monitoring activities to primary and secondary students. 

This school holidays, a group of students who had got their scuba certificates earlier in the took part in a major reef survey, led by Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau chairma Dr Teina Rongo, a renowned marine biologist.

The reef survey team was Temata Patai, Ta’arouru Apera, Mike Papatua, Teati Motu and Meilani Karika.

Students were introduced to scientific survey techniques to help them gain some basic understanding of the marine environment. 

“While the program was only intended for one week, Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau will continue the survey even after the school holiday to complete the 10 sites around Rarotonga,” Rongo said.

“Data obtained from these surveys will be used by the relevant stakeholders to help monitor land-based activities and the management of our marine resources.”

“The reef survey is different from the taramea efforts,” said Jackie Rongo, from Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau.

“The survey is part of on-going reef monitoring efforts since 1994. Upon discovering the taramea during survey efforts in town, being more urgent to prevent an outbreak before their spawning period, the focus shifted to taramea eradication efforts. 

“Reef surveying will be ongoing alongside keeping an eye on taramea populations as we cannot afford another outbreak.”

The reef survey team will be joined by eight students who gained their scuba certificates last month, Maiata Newnham, Athina Karika, Ropati Newnham, TeKoha Henare, Daniel Koteka, Jacques Koteka, Penina Arnold and Charlene Akaruru.