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You are here: /main/research expeditions/May 2006/Day1 Leaving

Day 1, Setting off for Nihoa
May 19, 2006
by Dr. Malia Rivera

Randy KosakiJust a few hours late from fueling up at Pearl Harbor to depart from Oah‘u, we are all prepped and ready to roll onward to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. First stop will be the rocky island of Nihoa, one of the few “high islands” of the NWHI. We spent the night in transit, rockin’ and rollin’ to the relentless swells, trying to keep our gear and personal belongings from flying around the rooms and labs. It was a rough night for several of us, but we are beginning to feel the excitement as we approach Nihoa. The scientists are eager to get into the water to start moving on the field-based components of an important research endeavor on ecosystem science-based management for this remote and special region of the Hawaiian Archipelago.

The science teams onboard are primarily from the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, part of the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Last year, HIMB partnered with the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve to conduct scientific research that would inform management for the proposed Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This expedition will focus four primary scientific disciplines that include coral health monitoring, apex predator migration, coral reef and invertebrate population genetics, and fish population genetics. All the research conducted by HIMB scientists aim to elucidate patterns of connectivity between the inhabited main Hawaiian Islands and the remote, relatively pristine areas of the northwest reaches of the archipelago. In other words, we are seeking answers to the fundamental question of how our presence in the main eight Hawaiian islands affects those of the un-inhabited NWHI, and vice versa. Onboard HIMB is coordinating with scientists from the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, the State of Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources, and the US Geological Survey. We are also accompanied by environmental writer for the Honolulu Advertiser, Jan Tenbruggencate.

But before we get to Nihoa, we have a day of drills! Early this morning, all the scientific divers had to perform a chamber drill to familiarize us with re-compression procedures should there be a diving mishap. We were all taken down to the equivalent of thirty feet of seawater, and “brought back” to the surface over a 15-minute period. Now the science teams are awaiting fire and abandon ship drills, after which we should be ready to hit the water at Nihoa first thing in the morning!

Leaving Oahu



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