Friday, December 12, 2014

Punahou O-bots Team

 Not too long ago, we had the pleasure of hosting the Punahou O-bots on Coconut Island.  Through visiting our institution and a few others, they gained insight to create the following rendition of the Hawaiian legend, "The Shark and the Poi".  The video highlights the role of sharks as protectors of Hawaiian waters and important to our ocean's health.  It also promotes their video game on Scratch, a program created by MIT, to teach children interesting facts in a creative and fun way!

 Show your support for the Punahou O-bots by watching the video and playing the video game here!

 The Shark and the Poi

 CLICK THIS LINK to try the: Shark and the Poi video game


Friday, December 5, 2014

Newest Member to HIMB's Community Education Program

Aloha Everyone!

I'm Casey Ching, the new Kupu intern here under the AmeriCorps organization.  I just finished my first month working on Moku o Lo'e and am grateful to have the chance to be here for the next year.

Taken by Mark Heckman

Having been born and raised in Kailua and Kane'ohe, I've grown up hearing about HIMB.  Even my advisors at Boston University often spoke about it while I pursued my Bachelor's degree in marine science.  When I made the decision to move home following graduation, I also made it a personal goal of mine to seize the first opportunity I was given to visit.  Even better though was actually landing the position here through Kupu allowing me to work for the Community Education Program.

After spending the past four years in Boston, I have a lot of catching up to do in Hawaii's marine science community.  I'm still unsure what type of career I'd like to establish for myself, but being at HIMB is the best place to figure it out.  I've had experience with educational programs as well as research, so this position allows me to apply skills I've previously learned while exploring other possibilities.  I find all aspects of Hawaii's marine life engaging, but am looking forward to honing in on a specific focus that stimulates my interest while I'm here.

Me with a colleague, Ka'ilikea Shayler, at our program's touch table.
Taken by Mark Heckman

Mark has got me starting on a few projects, but I am most excited to map out an invasive algae clearing event around Coconut Island.  When I was in elementary school, these community events caused me to aspire towards a career in marine biology.  Gracilaria salicornia (common name, Gorilla Ogo) was the first scientific name I learned at the age of 10.  I'm thrilled to contribute to the alien algae removal efforts and to hopefully instill the same passion I received into its participants.

I'm also getting trained in a few skills, my favorite is learning how to drive the Boston whalers! Hopefully I'll be able to do my boating check out soon and help shuttle our groups to and from the island.

Taken by Mark Heckman

I'm thankful to the HIMB Community Education Program for giving me the chance to work with all of the wonderful HIMB volunteers, staff and faculty.  I'm looking forward to an exciting first year here.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Booking a Tour of Moku o Lo'e (Coconut Island)


This week's blog post is on the Header Bar at the top of our SCIENCE ISLAND BLOG for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Interested in taking a tour or having one of your friends sign up for at tour? Check out the TOURS tab at the top of the page.

You want to do a tour, but also want to see if the date is open? Check the CALENDAR tab.

Interested in the marine life of HIMB. We can't say we have written about it all, but, alongside of the Marine Life Posts to the side, there is a MARINE LIFE tab above we are adding to fairly frequently.

Have a great weekend.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Fish Aggravating or Fish Aggregating Houses in the Sea

2nd FAD houseboat
Houseboat/FAD off Ontong Java Atoll.  SOI/Mark Heckman
One of my last posts from the Ontong Java Plateau was our discovery of some floating "houses" hundreds of miles from anywhere. You can see the post here: It's a Houseboat FAD.

Non-fishing oriented conservationists sometimes joke about the FADs, most of which in Hawaii are buoy's but can be a variety of devices. The question is often put, when a vessel is sunk to provide more "fish habitat" or a floating FAD is put in - are these devices actually producing more fish by creating fish habitat, or just creating ways for fishers to harvest dwindling and hard to find fish by creating an attractive space that lures them in. Hence the title, "Fish aggravation or aggregation." The answer depends on the level of use of the FAD and the type. PEWTrusts has a very interesting read on effects of FADs on tuna, see: Fish Aggregation Devices and Tuna, and Hawaii always seems to have some current research on FADs as a matter of course, of which HIMB's Holland lab is often involved through their HIMB Pelagic Fisheries Research unit. They do, as always, excellent work.

FAD houseboat above Ontong Java Plateau
Houseboat FAD 2. SOI/Tomer Ketter
It is unlikely that FADs will go away, so it is important that management based research continues on these devices.  As is common in fishing issues, research will give us the facts upon which to base opinions and action. So have a read through some of the resources given above. Interesting stuff!



Friday, October 24, 2014

Blogs from the R/V Falkor off Ontong Java

CTD array headed down. SOI/ Mark Heckman
Have you been following along? It is 4 a.m. here on the R/V Falkor off of Ontong Java Atoll. I am midway through my midnight to 8 a.m. seafloor mapping shift. Mostly I just watch while my shift partners (who actually know what they are doing), make sure all is well. The other night, a sharp rise on the port side of the seafloor map prompted my night shift partner Tomer Ketter, to call up to the bridge and turn the boat around. We reversed course, mapped a new seamount and then went back on track.

There are new blog posts every day, either by myself or the Chief Scientist, or whomever in the science crew I can convince to write. I will also be on the radio with Carlie on the 28th.

Some topics so far:
10/15 Converging on a Point (Getting everyone in to Pohnpei from around the world)
10/15-Present Mapping with Mike - Cruise accounts from the Chief Scientist
10/18 Using the CTD to Calibrate the Multibeam Sonar (less technical than it sounds and great images taken by putting my camera on a very long stick off the back of the ship)
10/19 Amelia Earhart and Nukumanu Atoll (yup, we are off the last confirmed position for Amelia Earhart)
10/20 The Meaning of Life or at Least a Multibeam Acquisition Screen (a look at the coloful screens we watch 24-7)
10/23 Flying in Darkness - Charting Unknown Reefs at Night
and our most current:
10/24 Colored Lines - Decyphering the CTD Code (again, less technical than it sounds. I am also aiming some of these for HS students studying sea floor mapping)

Next up will be an entry on the barracuda that ended up on deck and the results thereof. 


Section of atoll we have been mapping. SOI/Tomer Ketter

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mysteries of Ontong Java

Next week and I will be off to Pohnpei, Micronesia via a 10+hr flight to board the state of the art research ship Falkor - from there, on to the Ontong Java plateau.

Schmidt Ocean Institute R/V Falkor

The plan is that I will be working for my colleague Carlie Wiener, handling the outreach on a research/exploration cruise.  The ship is run by the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI), a private non-profit organization dedicated to ocean exploration. I like the quote from Wendy Schmidt (March 6, 2012), "The purpose of this ship, as she leaves on her various missions, is to communicate about the science of the oceans to people so that they can care about it.  We can't take care of something that we don't understand and we can't care if we don't know."

I will be posting daily  to the SOI blog, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts. Better yet, the scientists on the cruise who actually know something will do some of the postings too. So follow along and learn about multibeam sonar scanning, multipurpose landers, and a mystery - an undersea plateau almost as large as Alaska that was probably the largest known volcanic eruption in Earth's history. Join me as I accompany Chief Scientist Mike Coffin from Tasmania with a group of scientists from around the world and the ship's crew of the Falkor, to explore "The Mysteries of Ontong Java."

The name of the area alone makes it worth checking out. I will link back to this blog, or you can follow directly via the SOI site.

For the University of Tasmania Press Release on the cruise see: Tsunami risk estimates will improve with Pacific voyage study


Friday, September 19, 2014

UXO - Finding Unexploded Ordinace on the Reef or On Your Way to Work

 Image - S. Pagliaro
Sal was walking in to work today when he noticed an encrusted mortar shell lying by the side of the path. Being obviously more aware of his surroundings than I am in the morning, he pulled up short. "How in the heck did that get there?" was his first thought, followed by, "That should NOT be there."

He did not touch it or move it. He called Jim, our facilities manager, the police came, followed by an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team. When I walked up, there was a 50 meter perimeter already set up.

Now most of us in Hawaii have some experience with unexploded or old shells, casings and so on. Perhaps most dramatic for me was off of Kaho'olawe (image below), but - most all of us know not to pick these things up. Even if it looks harmless, you never know. As the EOD officer told me, a piece can be lying there for years, someone collects it, folks hand it around and around and then one day it just goes off. Bummer for the one holding it at that point.
Snorkeling above UXO off of Kaho'olawe.  Image M. Heckman

So this seems like a good time to reinforce the guidelines for finding shells, bombs, bullets (some of which may be explosive) on the reef, at the beach, in the forest, wherever. The rules are simple:
1. Recognize, 2. Retreat and 3. Report. Do not take it home as a souvenir

I went to the DoD site on UXO and enjoyed reading through the material, although it was rather disturbing at points. Such as the comment that munitions are hard to recognize and can resemble a "baseball, soda can, or muffler." Hmm, that is clear as mud. I also like the warning on marking the location,
"mark the general area, not the munition, in some manner (e.g., with a hat, piece of cloth, or tying a piece of plastic to a tree branch)" (bold added).  
You can easily imagine some yahoo saying, "I'll just put my hat on this bomb so we can find it again."

So resist the treasure hunter urge, mark the location and call it in. Don't we all have enough junk in our houses and lives anyway? Who needs a nice old munition that might unexpectedly explode. I don't know about you, but my life has enough randomly occurring drama as it is.

By the by, the ordinance Sal noted was apparently quite empty, which was a good thing.
Mortar round. Image S. Pagliaro

From the Department of Defense Site:


Recognize when you may have encountered a munition.


Do not touch, move or disturb it, but carefully leave the area the way you entered.


Call 911! Immediately notify local law enforcement of what you saw and where you saw it.

For more info, check out their site at: Explosives Safety