2018 marks the tenth consecutive year that Seattle Aquarium staff members have conducted Hawaiian reef fish and coral health research along the northwestern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Follow along as Seattle Aquarium Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson recaps the experience. To read part 1, click here (link to first blog post).
Day 4: Thursday, January 25—a very fishy day!
Today we headed south to Kona to meet up with Mark Johnson, who took us out on his boat to survey site 8 south of Kona and just north of Captain Cook, where the acropora corals are. We can only survey this site by boat, and it was a perfect day to be on the water.
Site 8 was very fishy, but the corals here also bleached in 2016 and still haven’t recovered. We hope they look better the next time we’re there.
We motored back up north and surveyed sites 3 and 4, off Old Kona airport. They were very fishy—at least over 1,000 fish at each site. Awesome!
After our dives we stopped by the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) office to say hi to our partners there, Dr. Bill Walsh and his crew.
Day 5: Friday, January 26—a change of pace
Today we headed over to Hilo to give our talk at the University of Hawaii Hilo. It was attended by 30 students and locals, and went very well. We again shared information about the Aquarium, our plans for the future, and the results of our research. The students were very interested—our talk was 40 minutes long and they asked questions for nearly 30 minutes afterward! Back to Puako if the afternoon to have dinner with our past-years hosts, Dom and Marie Addario.
Day 6: Saturday, January 27—shark sighting!
Today we got to do some exploratory dives to see if there are areas that we could survey if we had more time. We explored areas north of site 1 and deeper that we hadn’t been to before. We found lots of schools of fish, garden eels and wire corals.
Then we drove south back to Kona to dive Crescent Beach, an area just south of the harbor. Here there were many fish and lots of healthy-looking corals. We even saw a tiger shark! Then we headed into town for dinner with our boat captain Mark and his wife April.
Day 7: Sunday, January 28—wrapping up
We couldn’t dive today as we are flying tomorrow, so all gear got an extra rinse and a complete dry for packing tomorrow. We returned all of our tanks and weights to Kohala Divers in Kuawahai and went back to Mike Budd’s house to relax. Later in the evening, we had dinner with Narrand and his wife Urmila, former owners of the Puako general store and super nice folks.
Day 8: Monday, January 29—all good things must come to an end
Time to say goodbye to Mike and Puako. It was a very successful trip—we were able to get all our surveys done, gave two talks, and made more partnerships and connections. Back to Seattle to start counting fish!