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Contact: Barbra Pleadwell (808) 292-3031 or
Aulani Wilhelm (on board the expedition) email@example.com
SPECIES AND POSSIBLE SHIPWRECK SITE FOUND DURING FIRST FEW
DAYS OF NORTHWESTERN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS EXPEDITION 2002
(Gardner Pinnacles, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands-September
14, 2002)-Five days into their 30-day research expedition,
scientists from NOWRAMP 2002 (the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program) have already located
what they believe are new records of animals not seen before
in Hawai`i's northernmost islands and atolls.
it's too early to confirm, scientists believe they have located
at least two coral species and various crab, snail and nudibranch
species never recorded at these locations before.
least one fish species, the finescale triggerfish (Balistes
polylepis) was seen for the first time in the Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands. This find was significant as the species
is native to the Eastern Pacific (commonly found in waters
off Baja, California) and was only seen for the first time
in the main Hawaiian islands a few years ago. The movement
of this fish seems to be a natural one and scientists aren't
sure what triggered the expansion of territory.
from the possible new records of species, scientists continue
to be amazed by the abundance of wildlife, algae and coral.
abundance of fish and other species here gives us an idea
of what the main Hawaiian islands must have been like not
that long ago and underscores the need to properly care for
this place," said Dr. Randall Kosaki, chief scientist
aboard the Rapture. "It's a glimpse into our past that
we need to hold on to, to help guide us in our efforts to
protect our oceans in the future."
significant so far is the possible location of a shipwreck
site at Mokumanamana (Necker Island). According to Dr. Hans
Van Tilburg, leader of the Maritime Archaeology team, although
no shipwrecks have ever been reported at this island, his
team found pieces of heavily encrusted iron artifacts and
machinery that are typical of the type of debris that would
be found at a shipwreck site. Estimating the age of the debris
would be very difficult, however, the items have been in the
ocean long enough to be covered with coral and appear at first
glance to be part of the reef.
scientists are pleased with the expedition so far and have
welcomed the fairly calm seas and light winds they've experienced
all, aboard the two research vessels the R/V Townsend Cromwell
and Rapture, there are 3 teams of divers conducting rapid
ecological assessments of various sites at each island, reef
or atoll. Other activities include night time sonar measurements
to accurately map the seafloor habitat; towboarding and towed
camera surveys to obtain quick assessments of habitat over
large areas; coral monitoring and hyperspectral imaging; intertidal
and shallow water surveys and maritime archaeology.
goal of these multi-disciplinary surveys is to simultaneously
examine the condition and health of the fish, corals, algae,
invertebrates of these complex and diverse reef ecosystems
context of their benthic (sea floor) and oceanographic habitats,
which change over time," commented Dr. Rusty Brainard,
Chief Scientist aboard the R/V Townsend Cromwell.
expedition highlights include:
ecological assessment teams have completed 20 dives, adding
to the 200 sites surveyed in the past two years.
Surface Velocity Program (SVP) satellite tracked drifting
buoys were deployed off Nihoa and Mokumanamana (Necker Island)
to examine ocean circulation patterns which influence reef
conditions and larval transport and recruitment for numerous
Mokumanamana, an Ocean Data Platform and a sea surface temperature
buoy were deployed. The Ocean Data Platform will measure
profiles of ocean currents from the sea floor to the ocean
surface, ocean wave height and direction, and temperature
and salinity. The sea surface temperature buoy will transmit
ocean temperatures to satellites to allow scientists and
managers to monitor ocean conditions remotely using the
Internet. These ocean conditions often determine the condition,
health, and biogeography of the coral reef ecosystems.
Coral monitoring team found 2 new records of coral species
at Mokumanamana (Necker Island) raising the total number
of coral species known at this island to twenty (20).
specimens were collected at Mokumanamana and two coral cores
were taken for use in measuring climate change, growth rates
and ages of the coral around this island.
Mokumanamana the U.S. Coast Guard requested that the Townsend
Cromwell divert from her research track to search for a
potential vessel in distress. Fortunately, the distress
signal was a false alarm and the vessel could resume course.
French Frigate Shoals major gaps have been filled in verifying
habitat maps through direct diver observation of the ocean
one new permanent monitoring site was installed at both
Nihoa and Mokumanamana to measure changes in ecology over
time. At French Frigate Shoals two permanent monitoring
sites were revisited to look for any changes. Fortunately,
at the revisited sites, no significant changes were found.
of the best things about this expedition is the way that we've
put together an intergenerational group of older and younger
experts from various fields," said Dr. Karla McDermid,
one of Rapid Ecological Assessment team leaders. "We
have three generations of scientists, ranging from some of
the older and most experienced scientists in the field of
coral reef ecology, to the next generation of experts who
are leading this expedition, to the undergraduate and graduate
students who will be our future experts. We've brought with
us all that our mentors have taught us and are helping to
pass on this knowledge to the next generation of young, local
is the kind of continuity of knowledge, interest and commitment
that it will take to care for this place for the future,"
continued Dr. McDermid.
research vessels, the Rapture and the R/V Townsend Cromwell,
headed to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands earlier this month
to expand the baseline of knowledge and information about
the biological, historical, and cultural resources of the
area. This baseline information is critical for the development
of effective management strategies and future priorities for
the region, and will be of value to all agencies with NWHI
jurisdiction. This will be the last research trip of the Townsend
Cromwell, which has conducted marine research in Hawai'i and
the Pacific for nearly 40 years. The vessels are expected
to return to O'ahu Monday, October 7, 2002.
collaborators are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
(NOAA) National Ocean Service and National Marine Fisheries
Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State
Department of Land and Natural Resources, along with the University
of Hawai'i, Bishop Museum, and the National Park Service.
Note: A sampling of still images and newly shot video will
be available through Hastings & Pleadwell. (Still images
were shot by Jim Watt, video images were shot by Mike May.
Please credit photographer and NOWRAMP 2002.)
track the vessels, obtain anecdotal stories from participants
or learn more about the expedition overall, visit: www.hawaiianatolls.org
are being posted daily.