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You are here: /main/research expeditions/ 2005 RAMP/9_26_05 Dedication

9/26/05 - Dedication
by David Nichols, State of Hawaii, DLNR, HIHWNMS


HI-1 being retreived from the water.

We have finished the last of our three days at Pearl and Hermes Atoll. Pearl and Hermes Atoll is a true atoll that is primarily underwater and has numerous islets totaling about 80 acres. There is a huge reef area covering over 194,000 acres. The atoll was discovered by Westerners in 1822 when two English whaling ships, the Pearl and the Hermes, wrecked on the reef during a storm. The actual wreck site of these whaling ships was located last year by a team from NOAA as they collected marine debris (derelict fishing gear) around the atoll.

The atoll has the highest standing stock of fish and the highest number of fish species in the NWHI. There are species of angelfish here that are hardly ever seen in the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), such as the masked angelfish and the Japanese angelfish.

The next stop for the NOAA Ship Hi`ialakai is right next door at Midway Atoll. The scientists and crew are looking forward to spending some time on land (though it will only be a few hours). On our way there the vessel is doing a little benthic mapping in an area known on nautical charts as Gambia Shoal. According to the charts this is a large pinnacle that comes to within 14 fathoms of the surface (from a depth of 2450 fathoms).

The onboard laboratory is packed full of scientists this evening all trying to organize their data and specimens before starting again tomorrow morning in the waters around Midway. The invertebrate rapid ecological assessment (REA) divers, Scott Godwin and Holly Bolick of Bishop Museum are busy preserving samples of small crabs, snails and other assorted invertebrates. Iliana Baums of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) is also preserving and cataloguing specimens that will help characterize genetic diversity. Jennifer Salerno (HIMB) is busy filtering bacteria from seawater samples. Coral REA divers Greta Aeby (DLNR) and Fenny Cox (HIMB) are busy collecting tissue samples from diseased surgeonfish for later analysis. Fish biologist, Matt Craig (HIMB) is removing pectoral fins from collected fish for later DNA analysis, and chief scientist Randy Kosaki removes tissue samples from the same fish for stable carbon isotope analysis. Phycology (algae) REA diver Cheryl Squair (University of Hawaii) is busy identifying the species of a small red algae sample. Shark biologists Carl Meyer (HIMB) and Yannis Papastamatiou (HIMB) are both repairing longlines that will be used tomorrow to catch sharks and ulua around the atoll.

Iliana Baums

Invertebrate biologist, Iliana Baums from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology takes a brief lunch break aboard the HI-6.

The dry (computer) lab is also busy with scientists entering the day’s data into the computer. Fish REA divers, Darla White (UH), Paula Ayotte (UH) and Kosta Stamoulis (DLNR) are entering their data on fish species composition and abundance. Phycology REA diver, Rich Osada (DLNR) is also in the dry lab busy entering the days dive information into the computer.

This is a routine that seems to be repeated every day. All these people are in or on the water from the time the small boats are launched (near 7:30 am) until they are “picked” from the water (around 4:30 pm). Most of these teams of divers make three dives per day. They come back water-logged with data and samples that need to be either analyzed immediately or prepared for later more intricate work. Many of these scientists are working well after 10:00 in the evening but are always awake and ready for more the following morning. Dedication!

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