Welcome aboard the 2012 Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAMP) research expedition!
Today, on August 1st 2012, the Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program scientists begin their journey to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) also known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This special place is both a World Heritage site and one of the world's last apex predator dominated coral reef ecosystems. This means that the waters surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are teeming with life from large schools of sharks and reef fish to huge fields of table coral.
The COSEE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Island Earth program housed at the University of Mānoa in conjunction with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) is excited to announce two education crew members aboard the NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai. We and the rest of the research team will be out at sea for the next 24 days, and are looking forward to bringing the place to the people by sharing our research and experiences via this blog. The scientists aboard the ship range in many stages of their careers and agencies including NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center-Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, the University of Hawaii, and Scripps Research Institute. The diversity of research and staff will make for a most fascinating expedition.
The team will make several stops throughout the chain including French Frigate Shoals, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and Kure Atoll to conduct rapid ecological assessments of reef fish, corals, other invertebrates, and algae. This means that scientists will explore and characterize these remote aquatic areas to describe distribution, abundance, and look for new species. The RAMP cruises have been working to carry out ecological assessments of coral reefs in the Monument since 2000. Long-term monitoring of the abundance and distribution of reef fish, invertebrates, coral, and algae are used to evaluate the status and trends of the health of these remote coral reef ecosystems. Other research projects include coral disease surveys to determine disease presence in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a bioerosion study to determine the growth and erosion of corals in the NWHI, and ecological acoustics research using underwater recording equipment. These activities improve our understanding of the region's marine systems and help us better manage the Monument.
Stay tuned for in-depth interviews and accounts of our research experiences as we move through this remarkable place that we call the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. If you did not get a chance to hear our recent radio show interviewing chief scientist, Scott Godwin and research specialist Daniel Wagner, you can download the podcast from "Hawaii Tomorrow, 760AM" at http://podcast.den.liquidcompass.net/mgt/podcast/podcast.php?encoder_id=98&event_id=1218 and click on the "Monday, July 23rd" link. A follow up broadcast live from the ship will also take place later this month.
Lastly, we will also be documenting research activities to produce education materials and conduct ship-to-classroom 'ask a scientist' sessions via email with public and Hawaiian charter schools. Both I, Carlie Wiener, program manager for COSEE Island Earth, and Megan Onuma, education staff for COSEE Island Earth will be following the scientists on-board as they collect data for their research. To find out more about us, please see our bio descriptions below. We hope you will join us on our journey to characterize and monitor one of the world's last remote and pristine reef archipelagos.
Megan Onuma, from the small island of Lana'i, has never been to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands before. With a mixed background including a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Japanese, and future plans for further education in the marine sciences, Megan is eager to embark on the cruise for a good look at what it means to be a marine scientist. She plans to put her monofin free-diving skills to good use for filming the researchers underwater!
Carlie Wiener has been working in marine education for over six years, including her current position as the program manager for COSEE Island Earth (Centers for Ocean Sciences and Education Excellence), www.cosee-ie.net. She has also worked as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Research and Outreach specialist at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) for the past five years. Carlie has been fortunate enough to visit Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument twice before, but each time is always a new experience. While not working or in the water, Carlie is also pursuing her Ph.D. at York University. In her spare time Carlie loves to surf, practice yoga, and spends as much time in the ocean as she can.
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