OIST sets up equipment to observe coral reefs in the sea off Motobu Peninsula

September 7, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Tetsuji Mitarai, associate professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), and others, held a press conference at Okinawa Ocean Expo Park in Motobu in northern Okinawa on September 6. They said that researchers have set up equipment to constantly observe coral reef creatures and the environment in the sea off Bise in Motobu and have started fixed-point observation.
According to Mitarai, it is the first time a Japanese institution has set up equipment to observe the sea in real time. Few institutions in the world have managed this. The researchers expect to find new causes of coral bleaching.

On August 27, they set up the equipment at a depth of 20 meters at a spot one kilometer from the west side of Bisezaki. Three types of cameras and 15 types of sensors observe the sea and send data to OIST on the flow and speed of tidal currents, as well as oxygen and sea plankton levels.

According to Mitarai, the sea around Okinawa is the northern limit of coral reef ecosystems. Fixed-point observation gathers information valuable to researchers throughout the world.

Mitarai said, “If we can find what is happening with plankton levels, we can find out what causes coral bleaching.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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