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On the Job: Palestinian Drama
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Making Waves
King of the Reefs
Police Pursuit
Dial-A-Diet
Iceberg Hotspots
Silent Desert
Hopping Robot
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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

King of the Reefs

 
     

When Enric Sala first dove into the waters at Kingman Reef in 2005, his heart skipped a beat.

It was not only because the waters were teeming with sharks, but because the pristine conditions were unlike any other coral reef system the Scripps Institution of Oceanography marine ecologist had ever experienced.

On September 5, 2007, Sala, fellow Scripps researcher Stuart Sandin, ’94, and their colleagues returned from the first in-depth analysis exclusively dedicated to Kingman Reef, part of the Line Islands, a remote archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Sala and Sandin say the unspoiled reef is an unmatched study site, whereas 99 percent of coral reef studies were conducted when the environment was already seriously impacted.

They found a large number of sharks, snappers and groupers at the top of the classically shaped marine community pyramid, a smaller number of fish in the middle, and a drastically reduced algal population at the bottom. With the fresh data obtained at Kingman, the team will begin to unravel the prominent role sharks play and look for clues behind their unusual prevalence.

They plan to return to the Line Islands in 2009, to target a southern group of islands virtually untouched directly by humans.

Contributors to Making Waves: Mario Aguilera, '89, Rex Graham, Raymond Hardie, Robert Monroe, Neda Oreizy, '08, Doug Ramsey

RELATED LINKS

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Center for Marine Biodiversity & Conservation
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"Sala and Sandin say the unspoiled reef is an unmatched study site..."