Guam, a United.States. unincorporated territory, is the southernmost island in the Mariana Archipelago. It is located in the western Pacific approximately 3,700 miles west-southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii; 1,500 miles east of Manila; and 1,500 miles south-southeast of Tokyo, Japan. It is the largest island in Micronesia, with a land mass of 216 mi2 and a maximum elevation of approximately 405 meters. It is also the most heavily populated island in Micronesia with a population of about 168,000 people (July 2018 est). The northern portion of the island is relatively flat and consists primarily of uplifted limestone. The southern half of the island is primarily volcanic, with more topographic relief and large areas of highly erodible soils. This topography creates a number of watersheds throughout the southern areas which are drained by 96 rivers.
The condition of Guam’s coral reefs (including fringing reefs, patch reefs, submerged reefs, offshore banks, and barrier reefs) varies considerably, depending on a variety of factors including geology, human population density, degree of coastal development, levels and types of marine resource uses, oceanic circulation patterns, and frequency of natural disturbances (e.g., storms and earthquakes). Many of Guam’s reefs have declined in health over the past 40 years. However, in the past, Guam’s coral reefs have recovered after drastic declines. For example, an outbreak of the crown-of-thorns seastar in the early 1970s reduced coral cover in some areas from 50 to 60% to less than 1%. Twelve years later, greater than 60% live coral cover was recorded for these areas. A more distressing indicator of the condition of Guam’s coral reefs is the marked decrease in rates of coral recruitment.
Reefs unaffected by sediment, nutrient loading, and freshwater runoff in the northern part of the island and between river outflows, have relatively healthy coral communities. The reefs have not suffered the large scale bleaching events and coral diseases seen in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, some reefs have been damaged by land-based sources of pollution and heavy fishing pressure.
Report on the Status of Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States.
Volume 1: Marine Protected Areas Managed by U.S. States,Territories, and Commonwealths. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 2 February 2007
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
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