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Friday, January 15, 2010

Threatened in Wonderland: Site attached species

This pretty fish here is the yellow crowned butterflyfish. Although they do well in captivity, they are endemic to Guam. This species of butterflyfish live in the black coral at the Orote Peninsula, an ecological reserve area. It became a reserve as a mitigation measure by the Navy for the Kilo Wharf construction, in 1984. When we were at the 3rd D.E.I.S. meeting Nella was asking about the Apra Harbor expansion project. They told us that the turtles would not be harmed, but when I asked for one of the biologists' opinion on the negative impact it would have, he said site attached fish, like the butterflyfish would most likely die. Orote Peninsula is apart of Apra Harbor. Whether that area will be affected isn't clear to me at the moment. I've emailed several marine biologists at the University of Guam to ask them. I have received one response so far. Ms. Laurie Raymundo says, "As far as I know, Orote Pt is not part of the planned dredge site. We are finding that areas inner to the point are currently affected by silt from the Kilo Wharf dredging, but we are still completing our surveys and have not processed data at this time; these are just observations."

These butterflyfish are a threatened species! I think the reason I'm so taken by these fish is that they, like myself and many locals, are site attached. Guam is my coral head and if it is destroyed, what will I do? What will we do?

Ms. Raymundo goes on to say, "I have not read the EIS completely, but I would not agree with the statement that mobile animals will not be harmed simply because they are not site-attached. Turtles will certainly lose habitat if reef is destroyed. It is my opinion that it is difficult to estimate the damage that will be caused and I believe that projected damage is currently being underestimated. There will be an enormous amount of damage from silt alone if the plans to dredge Western and Jade Shoals are carried out. Without a more thorough reading of the EIS, which I plan to do before the Feb. 17th deadline, I hesitate to comment on any more detail." I'd like to thank Ms. Raymundo for her honest opinion, free of the sugar coating we got from the D.E.I.S. biologists. To add on to her opinion of the turtles being affected, the D.E.I.S. does in fact state that the lights from the construction projects at Apra Harbor may disorient the turtles. Turtles nest in the same place they are born. So if they can't find that spot they may end up discarding their eggs.

I'll keep you updated on any responses I receive from the marine biologists.


  1. You, Luke, and I should all do our own versions of this fish in the photo and see how it turns out! :P

  2. sounds good. hopefully i can work on that tonight.

  3. Hafa adai from Saipan! Love the art for activism. There is a delicate balance to coral reefs and habitat loss is a grave disruption to that balance affecting all creatures, weather mobile or sessile.

    I think that picture is of a Blackback butterfly fish though (Chaetodon melannotus) rather than C. flovorocoronatus. Check CNMI's RARE Pride campaign mascot, Primo, who is a yellow crowned:


    Keep up the good fight! Peace.

  4. Thank you Beachcomber!!! That was the picture that came up when I googled. :( I'll be changing the picture later today.


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