The Living Oceans Foundation conducted coral reef research in the Cook Islands as part of our Global Reef Expedition. From April 23 to May 6, 2013, our scientists worked alongside researchers from the Ministry of Marine Resources, members of the Cook Islands Marine Park Steering Committee, and the Te Ipukarea Society. Together they mapped and assessed the health and resilience of coral reefs surrounding the islands of Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Palmerston Atoll.
In the Cook Islands, scientists on the Global Reef Expedition collected vital data contributing to our global assessment of coral reef health and resilience. They completed over 400 surveys of coral and reef fish communities, recording the proportions of live and dead coral, as well as fish and coral diversity at 30 sites around the islands. They also documented major disturbances and patterns of recovery, including significant damage from an infestation of Crown-of-Thorns starfish (COTS).
The Foundation also created over 400 square kilometers of detailed marine habitat and bathymetric maps of the waters surrounding Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Palmerston, which are available to view and explore on our World Reef Map.
Our findings from the Global Reef Expedition mission to the Cook Islands have been shared with government agencies, and relevant stakeholders, and conservation organizations working in the region to help them continue to protect and preserve their coral reefs. The maps and data from the Expedition will be used to inform ongoing marine spatial planning efforts in Marae Moana—the largest marine protected area in the world—so that these reefs can continue to flourish for generations to come.
Global Reef Expedition: Cook Islands Final Report
The Global Reef Expedition: Cook Islands Final Report presents the Foundation’s findings from the Global Reef Expedition mission to the Cook Islands along with recommendations that can help preserve the reefs into the future.