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You are here: /main/research expeditions/ 2005 RAMP/8_27_05 On Our Way

8/27/05, On Our Way
by Kelly Gleason, Maritime Archaeology

REA Planning Meeting
Planning meeting for the REA (Rapid Ecological Assessment)
dive team in the Hi`ialakai's dry lab. L to R: Jen Salerno, Kosta
Stamoulis, Cheryl Squair, Darla White, Greta Aeby, Rich Osada, Paula Ayotte, Scott Godwin, Holly Bolick, Fenny Cox

Packing bags, running errands, calling friends… getting ready for a five week cruise takes a lot of preparation. For me, these tasks which can normally take weeks were condensed into a twenty four hour period from the time when Chief Scientist Randy Kosaki walked into my office yesterday morning and asked me if I wanted to participate in this Rapid Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAMP) cruise to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The decision to come aboard was an easy one for me. An opportunity to visit the NWHI, no matter how short the notice is, is not a chance to be taken lightly. This archipelago is a part of the world where new discoveries are a daily occurrence, and animals and creatures are still unfamiliar with human presence. The risks of my absence from my office in Honolulu were far outweighed by the benefits of visiting the pristine atolls of the NWHI, and in less than 24 hours I had packed my gear, made my calls, and paid my bills. For the next five weeks I will be working alongside a group of nine Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) divers and six collecting and tagging team members from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve (NWHICRER) , State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the Hawaii Institute of Biology (HIMB), the University of Hawaii (UH), and the Bernice P. Bishop Museum (BPBM), watching and learning from their work so the importance of what they do reaches an audience far beyond the atolls in this part of the Pacific.

We began our transit to our first stop at French Frigate Shoals late this afternoon. The time before arriving at the first monitoring site gives the scientists an opportunity to settle in, go over dive procedures, and begin discussing field work strategy with team other team members. Shortly after the ship was underway, laptops came out, data sheets began circulating, and field gear is being tested and set up. The NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai has hosted many different scientific and educational missions this season. This particular cruise is an important annual assessment, monitoring, and mapping mission that will take place at Nihoa Island, Mokumanamana (Necker Island), French Frigate Shoals, Gardner Pinnacles, Maro Reef, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island/Neva Shoals, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Kure Atoll, and Midway Atoll over the course of thirty five days. Annual monitoring at these fixed locations began in 2003, and revisiting the same sites allows managers the ability to understand abundance and distributions of reef fish, invertebrates, coral and algae. The scientists who have gathered for this mission all have projects in their respective fields of expertise that keep them busy. However, for the next five weeks, the primary focus of the group of scientists who came together for this cruise is to combine their expertise for the purposes of identifying and quantifying coral, algae, invertebrates and fish at the specific monitoring sites spread out across the expanses of the NWHI. Other scientists will also deploy and retrieve receivers to detect sharks and large jacks in locations at French Frigate Shoals, Maro Reef, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll, and Kure Atoll. Some of the scientists participating in this cruise were also involved in the May/June 2005 cruise to the NWHI, and their work over the next couple of weeks will follow up on research that they conducted in the spring. Scientists are preparing for long days underwater and in the sun, but everyone is excited for what they are about to become a part of.

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