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Marine Field Surveys and Data Collection

The first scientific expeditions to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) were in the early 1920's. The Tanager Expeditions, which took their name from the First World War minesweeper, the USS Tanager, surveyed the NWHI, and collected archaeological, meteorological, and biological data and specimens. Prominent scientists from the Bishop Museum and the Smithsonian Institution participated in these surveys. In 1984, Bishop Museum scientists discovered additional archeological sites on Nihoa and Necker Islands.

USS Tanager
USS Tanager

In 2000, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (NOWRAMP) multiple-year expedition was launched as a multi-agency and institutional partnership that brought together the best field resources (people, equipment, and funding) of both the resources trustees (state and federal management agencies) and the academic community. The major goal of NOWAMP is to map and rapidly assess the shallow coral reefs of the NWHI for their biodiversity, status, health, and management needs. NOWRAMP involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Hawai'i Division of Aquatic Resources, Bishop Museum, Oceanic Institute, and the Universities of Hawai'i and California. The NOWRAMP expeditions are the most comprehensive coral reef assessments of the NWHI to date. Most of the information on NWHI coral reefs in this essay was obtained from the NOWRAMP expedition reports and publications.