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You are here: /main/research expeditions/May 2006/Day 2 Nihoa

Day 2, The Rocky Island of Nihoa
May 20, 2006
by Dr. Malia Rivera

Hiialakai Zodiac
Reef fish and apex predator teams hit the water on zodiac HI-2

The ocean was rough as two zodiacs deployed early in the morning headed for the edges of the rocky island of Nihoa. The boats were swinging wildly on their tethers as they were lowered to the water, each packed full of scientists setting off to collect samples of coral, invertebrates and reef fish, and troll for apex predators.

For about seven hours the two teams were working at the edges of Nihoa, trying to stay in the lee of the large 900-foot vertical drop of the island. All the while Hi‘ialakai remained in the distance standing by. The coral and invertebrate teams returned early, successfully collecting several species of reef builders and their inhabitants. Similar success was had for the reef fish collections. The apex predator team managed to hitch barracudas and a couple of jacks, but rough seas prevented further attempts to tag more Uku, one of the commercially important bottomfish that is being targeted by this research.

Nihoa and Zodiac
The sheer 900 foot cliffs of Nihoa island with orange Zodiac in foreground.

The return of the zodiacs to Hi‘ialakai was even more treacherous, as winds and seven foot swells pounded the small boats against sides the giant NOAA ship. Nonetheless, the extremely well trained and seasoned chief boatswain and the seamless coordination with the coxswains manning each of the two smaller boats brought the researchers back on board safely. It was a hard first day on the water.

Because of the very rough and dangerous conditions here, a decision was made to move on to French Frigate Shoals tonight, abandoning the originally planned two full research days at Nihoa. We will hope for better conditions at French Frigate Shoals when we arrive there on Monday morning.


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