Micronesia: Day 8 – Storms and My Mangrove Report

June 30, 2013
11:43 A.M.

I know I didn’t do a very sizable blog post yesterday… this was because I was working on a field report for the data we collected in the mangrove swamps. I told you I’d post some of the data and an analysis once I analyzed it, so that’s what I’ll do. Here’s a summarization of my report.

For part 1, we hypothesized how mangroves would change as a function of salinity. Based on my data, I made the assertion that mangroves change because some are more effective at growing in freshwater but can’t survive a salinity that other mangroves can thrive beyond. This was partially true, but there was hardly a straight correlation between the two estuaries we sampled (Sapwalap and Soundau) and salinity, indicating that while salinity is a factor, there are many, many other factors at play (which is to be expected. This is a tropical estuary, not a lab).

For part 2, we identified the different mangroves we saw. I already did this in excruciating detail on my day 3 post, so I’ll save you from having to read even more of my overly verbose diction.

In part 3, I talked about the methods we used to find the distribution of mangroves at certain salinities. To make sure our data was comprehensive and scientifically applicable, we took the exact time of our stop at a certain location and took the coordinates with a GPS. Once we did that, we measured the salinity of the water. We took salinity measurements only at the entrance of the estuary going in and going to see how the tidal flux affected salinity, but for all other measurements, we actually headed into the mangrove swamps.

After we headed into the swamps, we found a partner to pair up with (the same partner for all sites on one estuary) and each of us would survey the number of mangroves in a 20-30 meter radius. More specifically, we would count the number of each genus we could find. We wrote down these numbers and the genera in our Rite in the Rain notebooks with their associated Rite in the Rain pens, hopped into the boat,went to the next station, and repeated the process.

I didn’t go into some of the mangrove swamps, so I did my surveying with Ashley Maloney (a grad student on the trip) from the boat. For the last three stops on the Soundau estuary, I surveyed around three boat lengths (20-30 meters) for different species.

Alright, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the data. The tables above each graph are the actual raw data we used to make that graph. Unless you have really good eyes, it’s hard to read the tables, so just click on them for the original version or zoom in on your computer.

I had a 1774 word scientific discussion and analyzation of this data that you all would probably find boring. We identified explanations for differences in our data and the class average, and we listed things such as miscounting, different approximate radiuses, not counting small trees, etc. Most of this stuff is stuff you can infer from the graphs; I just spelled it out specifically in this report.
Lastly, I gave some reasons why mangroves are important and should be preserved on Pohnpei.

1.)   They are great for climbing. I’m not trying to be sarcastic here… I’m a big fan of obstacle courses. And mangrove swamps, particularly the mud, are obstacles to human penetration. Rhyzophera, with their prop roots, are probably the best for climbing. This could be extended to all recreational activities that humans do with mangroves.

2.)   They are a great source of wood, particularly Xylocarpus. One could obtain a whole bunch of wood by chopping down a whole bunch of trees really quickly, but you will have the biggest returns in the long run if you do so in a sustainable way. This isn’t exactly “preserving” the mangroves, but it is a means of reaping their benefits while keeping them healthy.

3.)    They extremely protective and high in nutrients, so they make great habitat for fish and crabs, especially if they are juveniles or are spawning. As a result, biodiversity in these areas is high.

4.)    Mangroves are not only protective for organisms, but they protect the coast from eroding. As waves crash against the mangrove swamp, their energy is dissipated and very little energy actually hits solid land.

5.)    The mangrove swamps accumulate around 1 mm of sediment per year. This is much lower than the expected rate of the ocean to rise due to global warming, but it mitigates damage. As a result, the coastline will shrink up around Pohnpei at a slower rate. This is closely tied to soil erosion.

6.)    According to a BBC article I read, mangrove swamps are five times more efficient at capturing carbon than tropical rainforests, so having a lot of them could be a way to mitigate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is currently being researched.

7.) The coolest thing is that the Rhysofera stylus can be used to defog a snorkel mask and keep it defogged. I didn’t believe it until I tried it myself. It’s amazing.


It also rained pretty darn hard at times yesterday, and at night, there were some amazing flashes of lightning in the distance. There was one point during the day when it rained incredibly hard and the wind really picked up, but I didn’t get that filmed, unfortunately. It was right before the video I took during the day. Of course, all this rain is extremely heavy compared to that in Seattle. I can never call Seattle rain heavy ever again.

I’m trying to upload some videos of the storms yesterday but they aren’t working. I am assuming that this is because of the slow internet connection. I’ll give it another shot, but I doubt they will be able to upload. In the future, I will take shorter videos.

Finished 2:47 P.M. 6/30/13

____________________________________________________________
It’s now 1:21 A.M. PDT 7/23/13, and I can upload those weather videos I was talking about. Here they are!
Above is a video of the first event in the afternoon. Notice how rapidly the rain picks up and dies down.
And here is the thunderstorm. You only see one flash of lightning, but I heard they are pretty rare in Pohnpei, so I’m glad we got to see one.

Done!
Charlie

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