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BioGeographic Expedition departs for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Chief Scientist Randy Kosaki examines black coral on a deep reef in PMNM.
Chief Scientist Randy Kosaki examines black coral on a deep reef in PMNM. Credit: Greg McFall/NOAA

On September 4, 2012, scientists depart aboard the NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to conduct research in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).

Over the course of 25 days, the researchers will visit Nihoa, French Frigate Shoals, Maro Reef, Pearl & Hermes, Midway, Lisianski, Gardner Pinnacles and Necker Island to conduct various activities, including surveys of deep reefs and associated reef fish; searching for alien species of coral and algae; collecting reef fish, corals, other invertebrates and algae for population genetics analyses; and ocean chemistry studies that will contribute to our understanding of climate change and ocean acidification. Scientists will also search for deepwater algal beds that were discovered in 2009. These algal beds are thought to contain numerous new species of algae.

Research activities during this particular cruise will utilize cutting-edge diving technology (mixed gases and/or rebreathers) to explore unique marine habitats, including the mesophotic zone (deep reefs, also referred to as the "twilight zone"), where there is a high rate of endemic fauna – animals existing nowhere else on Earth.

The scientific party will consist of personnel from NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), the University of Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), Hawaiʻi Pacific University (HPU), Bishop Museum (BPBM), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the University of Florida. Research results from the expedition helps Federal and State resource managers to better understand the Monument's resources and improve management of the area.

In addition, a film crew will join the cruise to film land-based activities and develop educational and outreach videos. Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos will also accompany the team to build a body of work to be exhibited at the Honolulu Museum of Art upon return.

Follow the expedition through our video updates on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Papahanaumokuakea

To see videos from OiwiTV filmmakers on board the ship, click on the links below: