Assessing the sustainability of culturally important marine sites in Guam and CNMI

An underwater view shows coral-covered rocks, some brown or purple-y, but many spots of branching, skeletal white coral.
Bleached corals in Pago Bay, Guam, glow a ghostly white without the algae that normally provide them color and most of their food. (Photo: LRaymundo)

This project was designed to use climate models to produce projections of changes in sea temperatures and ocean chemistry for coastal marine areas in Micronesia as well as reports that describe the outlook of culturally important marine sites in Guam and CNMI. The projections and maps were expected show what the current state of climate science suggests the future holds for marine areas in Micronesia if we continue to use fossil fuels aggressively. These projections of sea conditions will become the foundation of outlook reports for Tumon Bay in Guam, Lao Lao Bay and Saipan Lagoon in Saipan, and northern Tinian Island. The selected areas are among the most important sites for recreation in Guam and CNMI and, as such, are key to the economy of these islands. The outlook reports was expected to describe pressures in the focus areas as well as current ecosystem state and will forecast the sustainability of the sites under current and alternate management regimes. Project outputs were collaboratively developed with resource managers to ensure the outlook reports identify and prioritize near and long-term actions to maximize sustainability and goods and services provision. Community members, stakeholders and managers are expected to be interested in the outlook reports as many of the high priority actions identified will require reducing pressure on coral reefs through changes in human activities on the land and in the water.

Color-coded maps of several global coral locales illustrating a range of predicted years of onset for annual severe bleaching, mosly from 2035 to 2050.
Projected timing of the onset of annual severe bleaching (ASB) under emissions scenario RCP8.5 for US coral reefs. (Photo: LRaymundo)




Laurie Raymundo
Professor of Marine Biology, University of Guam


Jeffrey Maynard
Marine Applied Research Center