The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a new National Estuarine Research Reserve, the 29th in the system, and the first in more than six years. The 1,385-acre Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses upland forests and grasslands, wetlands, reefs and seagrass beds, as well as the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Island chain. Estuarine reserves protect a section of an estuary and provide a living laboratory to explore and understand the important areas where rivers meet the sea. The reserve will be managed in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi through the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology(HIMB).
A German-American team of scientists reported recently some deep-sea octopods deposit their eggs onto sponges that only grow locally on manganese nodules. Deborah Eason, assistant researcher in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and study co-author
, observed the previously unknown octopod species during diving expeditions near Hawaiʻi. In areas off the coast of Peru, their specific dependence on manganese nodules for brooding eggs shows that the industrial extraction of resources in the deep sea must be preceded by thorough investigations into the ecological consequences of such actions.
Researchers gathered at Lake Challa, a 92-meter deep crater lake on the border of Kenya and Tanzania near Mt. Kilimanjaro, with the hope of uncovering its hidden record of the climate history that was so intimately involved in the development of our species. In collaboration with the International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme (ICDP), International Pacific Research Center postdoctoral researcher Christian Wolff and others, deployed a floating drilling platform on Lake Challa to recover and analyze a complete core profile of its 210-meter thick sediment record. Researchers hope to gather high-quality data on climate change and landscape history over the past 250,000 years.
Sonia J. Rowley, postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, received the prestigious Sir David Attenborough Award for Fieldwork from the Systematics Association and the Linnean Society of London. Rowley's work was selected based on her project entitled "Exploration and Systematics of Twilight Reef Gorgonian Corals at Pakin Atoll." During the 2015 Pohnpei expedition, Rowley and colleagues explored "twilight zone" coral reefs--those that exist between depths of 100-500 feet and are among the most diverse, yet most unexplored, realms on the planet. The mysteries of twilight reefs are only recently being revealed through technological advances in closed circuit rebreather diving.
Two undergraduate students in the Department of Oceanography's Global Environmental Science (GES) degree program have conducted original research on Hawaii's changing environment. Mia Delano (pictured at right), a senior in the GES program, works with Rob Toonen and Chris Jury at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology to study coral's tolerance to changing ocean conditions. Kaitlyn Nelson graduated in December with a dual major in GES and ethnic studies from UH Mānoa and assessed vulnerability of coastal (human) communities in Hawaiʻi to inundation from projected sea level rise. These projects contributed new knowledge to their respective fields.