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ASCC Marine Science students collaborate

Marine Science students from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) now have a unique opportunity to work with world-class researchers right here at home.  Dr. Bernardo Vargas Angel, a coral researcher with the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the project lead in a study being conducted in Fagaalu Bay to monitor the impacts of sedimentation on coral. 

Dr. Vargas Angel contacted ASCC last year to see if ASCC Marine Science students could assist in monitoring for this study, and during the research vessel Hi’ialkai’s recent visit, students who chose to participate were trained in CRED’s photo-quadrat methodology.

The goal of the study is to understand whether the sediment coming into the bay from the stream is affecting the coral in the bay.  Once a month students, along with the ASCC Marine Science Coordinator, will take photos of the coral along permanent transects set up on the north and south sides of the bay. 

These photos will be submitted to CRED and analyzed to determine how the amount and health of the coral changes throughout the year.  Students will gain valuable experience in field-data collection and underwater equipment usage, while also networking with world-renowned coral reef researchers and making a little extra money for their efforts.

The results of this ongoing study will be available through CRED’s data management system, and will also be presented locally to Fagaalu village and at the ASCC fall Science Symposium.  Anyone with questions regarding this project can contact ASCC Marine Science Coordinator Kelley Anderson Tagarino at 699-9155, ext. 356.