Friday, April 11, 2014

Education Clean up

Part of being good island stewards is picking up after ourselves and keeping our corner of the universe nice.

I notice that all of our volunteers tend to pick up the trash and such they see on our roads - and this is much appreciated.

Yesterday Leon and Bruce (a new volunteer) pitched in a couple of hours to do some extra clean up around the Hawaiian Gardens, the Classroom and the Retreat. They cleaned gutters, cut branches and pulled old bits and pieces out of the bushes (including some old and broken up surf boards). It always amazes me what we find around here!

We will have more clean up days coming up if you are interested.

Many thanks!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

"A 'shark's eye" view: Witnessing the life of a top predator" - repost from Kaunānā

Aloha, Check out this repost from Kaunānā, UH's  online research magazine.

A “shark’s eye” view: Witnessing the life of a top predator

Instruments strapped onto and ingested by sharks are revealing novel insights into how one of the most feared and least understood ocean predators swims, eats and lives.
For the first time, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the University of Tokyo outfitted sharks with sophisticated sensors and video recorders to measure and see where they are going, how they are getting there, and what they are doing once they reach their destinations.
Scientists are also piloting a project using instruments ingested by sharks and other top ocean predators, like tuna, to gain new awareness into these animals’ feeding habits. The instruments, which use electrical measurements to track ingestion and digestion of prey, can help researchers understand where, when and how much sharks and other predators are eating, and what they are feasting on.
The instruments are providing scientists with a “shark’s eye” view of the ocean and greater understanding than ever before of the lives of these fish in their natural environment.
Applying a tag to a shark
Carl Meyer applies a tag to a shark.
“What we are doing is really trying to fill out the detail of what their role is in the ocean,” said Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. “It is all about getting a much deeper understanding of sharks’ ecological role in the ocean, which is important to the health of the ocean and, by extension, to our own well-being.”
Using the sensors and video recorders, the researchers captured unprecedented images of sharks of different species swimming in schools, interacting with other fish and moving in repetitive loops across the sea bed. They also found that sharks used powered swimming more often than a gliding motion to move through the ocean, contrary to what scientists had previously thought, and that deep-sea sharks swim in slow motion compared to shallow water species.
“These instrument packages are like flight data recorders for sharks,” Meyer said. “They allow us to quantify a variety of different things that we haven’t been able to quantify before.”
“It has really drawn back the veil on what these animals do and answered some longstanding questions,” he added.
Meyer and Kim Holland, a researcher also at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, are presenting the new research today at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting co-sponsored by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and OceanographyThe Oceanography Society and the American Geophysical Union.
Sharks are at the top of the ocean food chain, Meyer noted, making them an important part of the marine ecosystem, and knowing more about these fish helps scientists better understand the flow of energy through the ocean. Until now, sharks have mainly been observed in captivity, and have been tracked only to see where they traveled.
These new observations could help shape conservation and resource management efforts, and inform public safety measures, Holland said. The instruments being used by scientists to study feeding habits could also have commercial uses, including for aquaculture, he added.
Tagged tiger shark
Tagged tiger shark swimming away (Photo credit: Mark Royer, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology)
The researchers on these studies gave oral presentations about their work on Thursday, February 27, 2014.

Useful information re gill nets and box jellies

My friend Suzanne is, among other things, an ardent ocean swimmer and an impressive protector of the ocean habitat. A couple of her recent emails had information that I would like to pass along. The first is from Dr. Angel Yanagihara, a UH researcher on box jellies and their toxins.

She is trying to get the word out on a couple of important things NOT TO DO in case of box jelly stings (basically - do not use an Epi-pen - it just makes things much worse).
Her email to Suzanne:
From: Angel Yanagihara <>
Subject: Re: Photos Questioning the dangerous change at Hanauma Bay 2/28/14
Date: March 1, 2014 12:30:28 PM HST
Reply-To: Angel Yanagihara

Aloha Suzanne,

Thank you for your email! It is extremely worrisome that the public is potentially left to assume that there is an acceptable risk in Hanauma Bay despite the presence of beaching Alatina alata box jellyfish.  Thank you for the photos. Do you all also wear hoods, gloves and booties?

I am concerned that there are some persistent misunderstandings about box jellies.

1. The response to the sting is not an "allergic" reaction. It is not at all like a bee sting. The venom of the box jelly contains ancient pore-forming proteins structurally similar to anthrolysin O and streptolysin O, the pore-forming toxins of anthrax and strep. People are not "allergic' to these pathogenic bacteria either. Our blood cells are uniquely vulnerable to box jelly porins and to bacterial porins. There is no "immunity" or "resistance" - it is a question of the dose delivered. Unfortunately, thinner skin areas of the body will allow a greater dose to be delivered. Women and children have thinner skin. So if an adult man is stung over thicker skin a smaller amount of venom will reach the blood stream than a sting of a child over a thinner skin region, such as face or neck.

I cannot stress this enough. I am conducting studies now involving box jelly venom injection into piglets. The data clearly show as our human whole blood studies show that the venom itself causes a massive rise in plasma catecholamines - EPI and NorEPI; this is well reported in the clinical literature as a "catecholamine surge". Adding an EPI injection on top of that situation is like adding fuel to a fire. In fact the losses of life that have occurred from box jelly sting have almost always involved well intentioned EPI administration. My studies are not yet published but please be advised that the use of EPI pen is an extremely dangerous practice and yields no therapeutic benefit whatsoever. I am happy to share my unpublished data with local medical decision makers. A Japanese tourist recently died after a sting from the same influxing box jellyfish species we have here (Alatina alata) in Saipan. Emergency treatment included EPI administration. I conducted 2 field surveys this year off Saipan and collected samples to send to our phylogenetic colleagues at the Smithsonian. They confirmed the species off Saipan is that has the same lunar synchronized spawning influx behaviour as our species is the same Alatina alata.

For more information please see:

I have prepared a little flyer to summarize Box Jellyfish safety and attached it here as a word doc open for editorial additions. I would be happy to collaborate with  Hanauma Bay folks with them taking this information  to prepare a version under their auspices. I also attach here a print ready PDF of this current version.

Thank you for your strong community voice and leadership Suzanne!


Topic Two - One day, Suzanne noted some people laying what appeared to be a illegal gill net along a windward beach. Rather than approaching them directly, she discretely took images and verified the net, then sent in the information. The response from Ken Lesperance of the DLNR is informative.
Date: February 28, 2014 1:28:04 PM HST
To: suzanne

Aloha Suzanne,

Bravo for the detailed information and how you were able to obtain photos without detection.  The only way to effectively protect our resources is through teamwork.  That said, please be careful.  Your safety is paramount.  Many people I have charged with lay net violations were methamphetamine users.  Additionally, when you are in the water around a lay net, be very careful.  I have become entangled on many occasions while pulling nets.
Lay nets are incredibly destructive to fish, marine mammals and turtles.  If you see an unregistered or otherwise suspicious gill net, call our dispatch at 453-6780 as soon as practical. ...  Laws regarding lay gill nets (do not apply to surround nets):
No more than 125’ long, 7’ high (and cannot be strung together to make one over 125’)
2 ¾ stretched mesh eye size
Must have registration tag on all four corners
Can only be laid 4 hours per day
Cannot be at night
Must be attended every 30 minutes and completely checked every 2 hours
There are a few other restrictions, I listed the common, easily detectable.
The detail you provided, with approximate time and photo of the house will make catching them far more likely.  I will get the info to my supervisor and we will come up with a plan.
Mahalo for your vigilance (as opposed to vigilantism),
 Here is a nice image of a gill net - (MH)
Image of gill net from Honolulu Advertiser article on drowned monk seal pup and proposed gear restrictions from 2006

Monday, February 24, 2014

Check out the blog, "The secret life of whales"

Pilot pod
One of the short-finned pilot whale pods studied today. All marine mammal photos taken under NOAA NMFS Permit No. 14682. Credit: Leighton Rolley
 Aloha all,
Go check out, "The Secret Life Of Whales." I like this link as a way into this blog that follows a student led research effort on deep diving beaked whales. You may see some familiar faces from HIMB! Very cool.
And/or  for a couple of great segments. Click on the videos for each day.
Loading for the cruise at the dock in Honolulu. Credit: Jessica Chen
From Marcie:
"Aloha Teachers,
Scientists from the UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) have been granted over 100 days at sea, spread out over the next 6 months, aboard the R/V Falkor, the oceanographic research ship belonging to the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI;  SOI is a private non-profit established to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.  

In the spirit of sharing information and passion for ocean exploration, the researchers on the upcoming cruises will be blogging daily activities and new findings.  
The first cruise (Feb. 16 - 22) is the first ever student-led cruise on the R/V Falkor.  UH PhD candidate Adrienne Copeland is the chief scientist for this expedition which will focus on the feeding behavior of whales, specifically, sperm, beaked and short-finned pilot whales.  Read more about the cruise here: 

Follow along as the scientists share blog posts, including video and photos, on life at sea, what it takes to research whale behavior, and what they learn along the way.

Email me ( to sign-up your class to follow our blog now!  The first three classes to sign up will receive a class visit by the scientists on this cruise. Oahu-based classes will be visited in person.  Researchers will do a Skype call with neighbor island classes. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Public Meeting on Kane'ohe Bay for a National Designation


Below is the invite to the next public meeting on designating a section of Kane'ohe Bay as a National Estuary Research Reserve Site. Further down are the handouts, including the comments submitted up until Feb. 9th. 

It would be great to have a good turn out of people for this meeting - or, and noted in my previous blog - you can submit your comments online at, by March 7, 2014.


From Rebecka at Coastal Zone Management: 

The state agencies will hold a public meeting at 5:30 pm on February 27, 2014 at Governor Samuel Wilder King Intermediate School Dining Room, 46-155 Kamehameha Hwy, Kane'ohe, HI 96744.  "

Hello NERRS stakeholders, 

In preparation for the upcoming public meeting on February 27, 2014, we are sending you a meeting agenda, handouts and the responses to comments received through February 9, 2014. These are attached to this email and are available at the OP website (see link below).
The meeting format will be slightly different than the first public meeting in January. The introductory session will be very brief, to allow attendees to go over handouts and review the informational poster about the site.
Most of the meeting time (at least 45 minutes) will be reserved for comments. It will be similar to the comment period during the meeting in January, with microphones and each speaker identifying themselves before their comment.
This period is meant for collecting your comments on the choice of Heeia as a NERR site in Hawaii. Your comments are welcomed via email, written on yellow comment slips at the public meeting, or voiced during the comment session at the public meeting. Please visit to learn more about the NERRS and site selection process.
Please contact Rebecka Arbin at 587-2831 or with your questions, or submit your comments to, by March 7, 2014.  
Thank you,
Rebecka Arbin on behalf of Jesse Souki, Director of the Office of Planning

Rebecka Arbin 
Coastal Zone Management Program 
Office of Planning 
Dept. of Business, Economic Development & Tourism 

235 S. Beretania St. 6th Floor 
P. O. Box 2359 
Honolulu, HI 96804 

(808) 587-2831 "

Public Comments up to Feb 9th. Click on the image to enlarge.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Losing, or winning, a chance to clean up Kaneʻohe Bay

Kaneʻohe Bay morning.  Photo S. Pagliaro
A bay is only as good as its water quality. How do we improve this? 
An excellent way is to clean up the watersheds that feed into the bay. To assist in the process of cleaning up bays and coastlines, there is a program that funds research and community planning to improve coastal waters. It is called the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (or NERRS).

In their words, "The Reserve System uses its living laboratories to find solutions to crucial issues facing America's coasts:
Climate Change and Resilience
Habitat Protection
Water Quality

The NERRS Science Collaborative brings science and communities together to solve coastal problems. "
K-Bay juvenile parrotfish.  Image M. Heckman
Why might we lose this chance to help clean up Kaneʻohe Bay?

Kane'ohe Bay has been chosen to host a NERRS site and has long term partners to support it.  However, the next step is for the public to provide positive support to establish the site, or negative support will lose it.
The note can be short - but have your say - comments should go in before the next meeting that presents public comment just a week or so down the line (Feb 27th).

Send in comments via this link:

Aerial view of Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay.

Who supports this locally? A wide group of partners have worked very hard to propose to have a section of Kaneʻohe Bay become a NERRS site, including HIMB, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi (one of their projects is to restore the wetlands up to the mountains mauka of the Heʻeia fishpond), Paepae O Heʻeia (who manage the fishpond),  Heʻeia State Park, the Koʻolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club and others. 
Do some oppose this designation? Yes, at the last public meeting, I heard that some felt that this would bring federal and fishing regulation to the bay.

Is there federal or state regulation that comes with a NERRS?
No - NERRS is not a regulatory agency. They will only help fund the local community to do research to identify the issues, then support the local community in deciding how to best proceed in dealing with the issues, but they have no regulatory aspect.  

Since NERRS sites are estuaries, wetlands and such where streams, rivers and water enter the sea, most of their work has been to improve the wetlands and upland areas that feed into bays and coastal areas. Improve the water coming in, and the bay’s water and fish, corals and so on, just get better. 

NERRS sites also focus on invasive species removal - certainly we have lots of invasive species to remove.
Smothering seaweed killing coral in Kaneohe Bay
Invasive alga, Kane'ohe Bay - Photo DLNR
What don't they do? I could not find a NERRS site that had an MPA (Marine Protected Area). Really none had special fishing regulations at all, unless they were endorsed by the local fishing community. In fact, many sites sponsored their own popular fishing tournaments. Again, NERRS sites focus on wetland restoration and alien species removal to improve water quality.  

Here is an example of a typical NERRS site advisory committee:
"ACE Basin NERR Advisory Committee
To provide for effective coordination and cooperation among all interests involved with the Reserve, an ACE Basin Advisory Committee was established following designation in 1992. The Committee meets at least twice annually and the Deputy Director for Marine Resources of DNR chairs the Committee. The Reserve Manager serves as staff to the Committee. The Chairperson, as needed, appoints sub-Committees for research and education.
The Committee may consist of the following representative groups:
•Marine Education •Scientific Community
•Local Landowners •Local Government
•Environmental Interest
•Commercial Fishing
•Recreational Fishing
•Timber Industry
•Private Non-Profit Conservation •State-Federal Agencies Active in ACE Basin
•Business Community"

This looks to me to be a pretty long list, and I am sure in Hawaii, we would modify this to include cultural groups and more. 

I encourage you to take a look at the NERRS program, if you see issues with it, let me know. It looks good to me though - lets improve the water quality in our watersheds at the very least. It would be great to see Kaneʻohe Bay become a coral garden once more. 
Kane'ohe bay reef.    HIMB image

Again, to help determine whether this program comes to Kaneʻohe Bay send your comments (they can be very short) to:



Friday, February 7, 2014

HIMB Tiger shark tagging update in the news - Males vs Females

Tiger shark     Photo - HIMB
I would like to draw your attention this week to an update in Hawaii News Now and the newspaper on the progress of the tiger shark tagging and tracking work off of Maui.

You may  have noticed several interesting trends on the HIMB PaCIOOS website (where you can pick an animal and follow its movements) :
1. All of the animals are females.
It turns out that male tiger sharks are harder to find as they wander through the islands. During mating season, there is an increased chance of catching males as they come into coastal waters to find the females, most of which have mating scars and marks during this time.  They actually now have two males tagged, but they are not up on the PaCIOOS site yet. The fact that they now have a couple of males tagged is great.

2. Currently, most of the tracks stay near Maui at first, but start to wander later.
It will be interesting to see what the tracks look like after a full year. And, as they continue to tag, both off of Maui, and here in Kane'ohe Bay and hopefully soon off of Waikiki as well, it will be possible to look for any patterns or differences in animal movements between the islands.

I suggest you check out this link and video for the update recently in the news. See:
Researchers tag more tiger sharks off Maui
Posted: Feb 05, 2014 4:29 PM HSTUpdated: Feb 05, 2014 11:29 PM HST
 By Mileka Lincoln