Seattle Aquarium staff members recently traveled to Hawaii to complete their sixth year of monitoring reef fish abundance off the northwest coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The non-invasive monitoring is performed via video sampling done in cooperation with the Washington State University and the Hawaii Department of Aquatic Resources. “We’re searching for shifting baselines, an ecological indicator of changes in fish abundance and diversity that may correlate with local environmental changes or other factors such as changes in human use activities,” notes Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson. Data has already been used for educational and management purposes in Hawaii.
Below are Shawn’s notes from the first day of the trip.
Day 1: February 4, 2014
We arrived last night after a long and weary travel day but woke refreshed and ready to start work. We dove two sites in our central research area, Puako, which is a small community in south Kohala with arguably the best shore diving in the Big Island. We got in the water as soon as the sun was high enough to film, around 9am, and dove site 1. The visibility wasn’t as good as it could have been but it was good enough to film, about 20 feet. Around noon we dove our next research site in Puako, site 2. The swell had picked up and it was a bit challenging to get through the surf with all our gear on while avoiding big rocks, corals and long-spined urchins! The dive was awesome with lots of fish, including a nice-sized moray eel and an octopus! Getting out proved to be the most challenging for the first team and we got a bit beat up by the waves. That’s ok, it’s all in a day’s work and the diving was fantastic!
Check back to read Shawn’s reports from the other days of the trip. Click here for more information about the Seattle Aquarium’s research efforts.