News & Blog

The Nature Conservancy announces new webinar series on Caribbean coral restoration

The Nature Conservancy is in the process of developing a Caribbean Coral Restoration Webinar Series (including Florida) to help foster long-term coordination and knowledge-sharing among the coral restoration and research community.  Preliminary details were announced during NOAA’s Caribbean Coral Restoration Workshop in November. The following provides more information.

What: Quarterly webinars featuring topics that are timely and relevant to the Caribbean coral restoration and research communities; communication after the webinar can continue on the forum at www.reefresilience.org.

Why:  To foster more frequent and comprehensive communication among the community and to highlight important research findings and lessons learned in a timely fashion.

When: The second Wednesday of every third month (February 8th, May 10th, August 9th, and November 8th in 2017); exact times TBD (please take the survey linked below).

Who:  Restoration practitioners, coral scientists, resource managers, students, everyone is welcome to join in!   Participation from Pacific partners is welcome but the information will be tailored to the Caribbean simply to keep the scope manageable.  An agenda will be posted to the Reef Resilience forum prior to each webinar so you can decide whether the topic is relevant to your work.

The first two webinars are scheduled and the topics selected: 

February 8th: Coral Spawning Research and/or Larval Propagation – Kristen Marhaver, Valerie Chamberland and Nikki Fogarty want to hear from you about what information would be most relevant.  In order to help them tailor their talk to your needs, please fill out this google form/survey: FILL OUT FORM.

May 10th:  Introduction to Genetics – Iliana Baums will discuss the various genetic techniques including what each technique tells you; the pros, cons and costs of each; and how they can inform restoration and management.

If you have ideas for future sessions, or want to present, please contact Caitlin Lustic, The Nature Conservancy, Coral Restoration Manager, clustic@tnc.org, phone 305-872-7071.

Seasons Greetings

agrra-card-photo-final

All of us on the AGRRA team and our sponsor partner, Ocean Research & Education Foundation, wish to extend you a joyous Seasons Greetings. We appreciate your interest and support, and hope you can help us celebrate AGRRA’s 20th anniversary in 2017.

May the wonders of the seas continue to inspire you in the New Year.

Happy Holidays! 
Philip Kramer, Patricia Kramer, Judith Lang, Kenneth Marks, Shirley Gun, Robert Ginsburg

AGRRA conducts training workshop in Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica, August 21-26, 2016
jamaica-training-group

Presenters & attendees at the AGRRA Protocol Training in Kingston, Jamaica. Photo by Anna Ebanks-Chin.

AGRRA database manager Ken Marks and scientist Dr. Judy Lang partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the University of the West Indies’ Port Royal Marine Laboratory to conduct an intensive, five-day training workshop on the AGRRA protocols and its online data-entry tool.

 

Attendees included a lecturer and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of the West Indies, and six environmental scientists or consultants, each of whom focused on mastering at least two of the three (benthos, corals, fish) AGRRA protocols.

The training was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development and its Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program which conducts part of its activities in the Caribbean.

jamaica-in-water-training

Starting a survey training dive on the Port Royal fore reef. Photo captured from a video by Rachel D’Silva.

We are most grateful to staff at: (a) The Nature Conservancy for its fine logistical support for the classroom sessions, which were held at the The Nature Conservancy office in Kingston, and for arranging our diving; and (b) the Port Royal Marine Laboratory for cheerfully facilitating the dives.

 

jamaica-reef

Nurse shark on a fore-reef spur off Port Royal. Photo captured from a video by Rachel D’Silva.

Thanks to some unusually calm weather, we were able to dive at several sites on the fore-reef spurs seaward of the Port Royal barrier reef, as well as at one of the offshore cays.

 

New Access to AGRRA Training & Survey Materials

New Access to the AGRRA Training and Survey Materials

DSC_7977The front-end access functionality to the Training Tools section of the website has been updated.

Access to these materials is now available using the updated AGRRA Website Registration.  Users who registered previously before September 27th will need to re-register. The same email address can be used but users will need to re-submit password details and registration information in order to create this new registration. [Note: cookies must be allowed].

Users can register when they access the Training Tools section and they will be prompted to create a new AGRRA registration when first attempting to download a file.

All materials are available to AGRRA Registered users.  Register to access the most recent versions of the materials.

Safari Users: Please note there is an incompatibility issue with Safari browser and the Registration process. Users are therefore advised to use alternate browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome.

Thank you for your patience. If you have any questions please feel free to contact info@agrra.org.

News Flash – upcoming changes

DSC_0115Since the new www.agrra.org site launch at the beginning of July 2016 we have been very encouraged by the breadth, scope and numbers of users of our extensive research and materials.

The site continues to evolve with new content as it becomes available as well as changes to functionality that will simplify our user’s access to the contents of the website.

To that end, we are working on improvements to the AGRRA Website Registration to improve its robustness and a new registration/login function will be implemented during the period September 26-28, 2016. Access to the Training and Survey materials will be unavailable during this time.

Once access becomes available again, previously registered users will have to create a New Registration record in order to access the AGRRA Training & Survey Materials. They may use the same email address as before but will need to re-submit password details and registration information in order to create this new record.

We apologize for this inconvenience but this is a very short, simple process and users will continue to have access to the same AGRRA Training & Survey Materials. We are simply improving the front-end login functionality.

If you have any questions about this upcoming change, please feel free to contact info@agrra.org.

AGRRA conducts training workshop in Dominican Republic

Samaná Bay, July 11-16, 2016
Attendees at the AGRRA protocol training workshop in Samaná Bay supported by the USAID Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program.

Attendees at the AGRRA protocol training workshop in Samaná Bay supported by the USAID Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program. Copyright Miguel Silva de la Cruz.

In partnership with The Nature Conservancy and El Centro para la Conservación y Ecodesarrollo de la Bahía de Samaná y su Entorno (CEBSE), AGRRA scientists Dr. Judy Lang and database manager Ken Marks conduced a training workshop in Samaná Bay, Dominican Republic on the AGRRA methodology, including the benthos and fish protocol and the online data-entry tool.

This training was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development and its Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program which is part of its activities in the Caribbean.

The workshop included classroom sessions at the La Tambora Beach Resort in Los Cacaos, and in-water training consisting of SCUBA dives in the area of La Farola and Cayo Levantado near Samaná and an offshore shoal in the middle of Samaná  Bay.

DR group training - dive

Students conducting surveys at a boat wreck site near Samaná. Copyright Aurelio Reyes.

The seven trainees included representatives from Centro de investigación de Biología Marina, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (CIBIMA, UASD); UASD and CEBSE with the group split between benthos and fish training.  The training was very well received and was considered instrumental in assisting with capacity building in that area.

 

 

In addition to receiving training on the AGRRA protocol, the group also participated in discussions on resource management. They concluded that due to the fishing pressures on holothurians (sea cucumbers), these organisms should be added to the list of exploited motile invertebrates counted in the benthic belt transects.  They also prepared a list of recommendations for fish and coral reserves, co-management opportunities, and for greater networking among the governmental, non-governmental, fishing and diving groups that are active in the bay.

For further information please contact us at info@agrra.org.

AGRRA scientists present at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium

ICRS-2016-Abstract-Book-cover

AGRRA scientists, Drs. Judy Lang and Philip Kramer  presented AGRRA’s poster “Fleshy Macroalgae Share Dominance with Other Organisms on Degraded Coral Reefs” at the poster sessions held during the 13th. International Coral Reef Symposium, June 19-24, 2016 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, Honolulu.

You may view the abstract here. 

Key takeaway points conveyed in the poster are:

When herbivores are scarce, fleshy macroalgae can expand over dead corals, outcompete live corals and prevent coral larvae from settling. But they are not the only players in the benthic spatial competition game.

Caribbean reefs need diverse herbivores–the echinoid Diadema antillarum (to consume or remove turf algal sediment mats, peyssonnelid algae and macroalgae) , large parrotfish (to help remove the basal holdfasts ), small parrotfish and surgeonfish (to graze macroalgae)–plus fewer nutrients, sediment and other pollutants on nearshore reefs (to facilitate coral health).

 

The ICRS is sanctioned by the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) and held every four years. It is the primary international meeting focused on coral reef science and management. The Symposium brought together about 2,500 coral reef scientists, policy makers and managers from 70 different nations in a forum to present the latest research findings, case histories and management activities, and to discuss the application of scientific knowledge to achieving coral reef sustainability.

For more information you may contact us at info@agrra.org.

Website update – “Status of Coral Reefs in the Western Atlantic”

As our site evolves we continue to add and refine content and materials. The following update has been made.

AGRRA Status of Reefs 2003

Please review the Resources page for access to the complete Atoll Research Bulletin No. 496 “Status of Coral Reefs in the Western Atlantic” found under AGRRA Status of Reefs 2003.

 

Please check back with us regularly for updates.

A Tool for Reef Recovery: Six Eastern Caribbean countries launch region’s first coral reef report cards

June 8th

As we celebrate World Oceans Day today, The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Caribbean Program is happy to announce the launch of the first ever Coral Reef Report Cards for the six Eastern Caribbean countries of St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.  CaribNode.org, which is an online data-mapping platform for marine managed areas, is also being launched today across the 6 countries.

Together, the report cards and the CaribNode are an important resource to educate communities and leaders about the health and status of our reefs, and to make informed decisions on marine resource management.

Click the photo below for a colorful cartoon video that explains the report cards, and head to www.caribnode.org to check out the maps, data and all six report cards. Also read full press release.

Eastern Carib youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYdjfXR9-uM

AGRRA’s “Train the Trainer course”

AGRRA and Healthy Reefs Initiative team up to host "Train the Trainer's" course.

AGRRA and Healthy Reefs Initiative team up to host “Train the Trainer’s” course.

AGRRA and Healthy Reefs Initiative teamed up to host an advanced “Train the Trainer’s” course in May 9-13, 2016 in Akumal, Mexico. Led by AGRRA’s Dr. Judith Lang and Ken Marks, 18 scientists and managers from Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico participated in the learning intensive hands-on field and classroom course. Over the 5 days participants focused on how to train others on the AGRRA sampling and survey methods, indicators of coral reef health, data consistency and accuracy training, online data entry system and the Reef Health Index.

“We were very enthusiastic on finally getting this certification to expand the human resources and capacities of the Mesoamerican Reef countries to do monitoring with AGRRA protocols”, said Marisol Reuda, Healthy Reef’s Mexico Coordinator. The field course was also a unique opportunity for participants from other countries to share their experiences and questions.  The trainee benthic and coral trainers also had a first chance to see the feeding scars of a honeycomb cowfish on a large elkhorn coral, especially as the fish was still in the vicinity of the affected colony, said Dr. Judith Lang, Science Coordinator for AGRRA.

The trainers will now return to their countries to train additional members and prepare for the 2016 Field Season. During the summer, the Healthy Reefs Initiative and over 60 partners will team up to survey over 300 coral reef sites along the Mesoamerican Reef. This year will mark the 10th year anniversary that HRI has conducted AGRRA surveys in the Mesoamerican reef. Our teams will also be on high alert to look for corals potentially affected by coral bleaching since this year is predicted to experience elevated sea surface temperatures.

For more information on AGRRA training courses contact Dr. Judith Lang at jlang@riposi.net . For more on Healthy Reefs Initiative contact Dr. Melanie McField at mcfield@healthyreefs.org