Shipwrecks Removed From Protected Coral Reefs

Francis YupangcoBy Francis Yupangco 5 years ago
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The F/V Hui Feng No. 1 was grounded on the reef at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

The F/V Hui Feng No. 1 was grounded on the reef at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

 On January 29, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) completed a $5.5 million conservation project to remove three wrecked ships, weighing a total of one million pounds, from protected wildlife areas in the Pacific Ocean. The restoration project is part of an ongoing investigation to see how shipwrecks damage the coral reefs and how fast the reefs can recover after the vessels are removed. 
The iron that leached into the environment from this shipwreck on Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge had encouraged the growth of an invasive green algae.

The iron that leached into the environment from this shipwreck on Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge had encouraged the growth of an invasive green algae.

 The three ships, which all sank within the past 15 years, were in the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge and caused miles of damage to two important coral reefs: Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef. These wildlife refuges, located in the 2,575-mile stretch between Hawaii and American Samoa, are home to 176 species of coral and 418 types of reef fish. As the seawater absorbed iron from the ship’s body, a condition called “black reef” developed. Iron attracts invasive species to the area, such as corallimorph or algae, that kill anything that can’t get out of it’s way. The invasive species of algae takes over the area, obstructing the view of the many different coral species underneath. The removal started in November 2013 and lasted under January 2014. The FWS held “Coral 101” classes to ensure that the contractors working on the site were educated on the importance of saving coral reefs. The crew of 16 contractors cut and removed the wreckage without causing any further damage to the reefs. 
Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world.

Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world.

 The salvage was brought to California to be recycled. Now that the shipwrecks have been removed, researchers predict it will take a few years for the reefs to recover. The Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef can now be used as a control group to help scientists discover how to help wounded reef’s recover. MORE  

Categories:
  Conservation, Corals, Science
Francis Yupangco
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 Francis Yupangco

  (449 articles)

Francis is a marine biologist with an MBA and over 20 years of professional aquarium experience. Francis is the former Aquatic Development Manager at Hagen USA., makers of Fluval brand aquarium products. He co-stars on Nat Geo WILD's reality TV series Fish Tank Kings where he is the resident "Fish Geek" and was Director of Marketing at Living Color Aquariums. He is an avid explorer having visited over 45 countries and lived in 7. At 17, he was among the youngest aquarists ever hired by the Vancouver Aquarium, where he worked for 7 years. His aquatic biology experience ranges from larval fish rearing to the design, construction and operational management of renowned public aquariums around the world. Francis is currently head of marketing at the world's largest vertically integrated fish farming company.

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