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2, The Rocky Island of Nihoa
Dr. Malia Rivera
Reef fish and apex predator teams hit the water on zodiac
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.
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
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.
The sheer 900 foot cliffs of Nihoa
island with orange Zodiac in foreground.
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.
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.