Anyone See Pele?

Spattering is common in the summit lava lake, normally at one or more sites along the lake margin. A spattering area along the northeast lake margin on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, is shown here.

USGS Photo

The surface crust tends to flow into the spattering area, where it sinks. This migration can produce rips and tears of the lava lake crust as it approaches the chaotic spattering zone.

Half of Hawaii’s Coral Bleached in One Year

Scientists estimate that beaching affected 56 percent of the coral around the Big Island, 44 percent of that along West Maui and 32 percent around Oahu over a one-year period spanning 2014-2015.

Researchers recently completed an 88-day expedition aboard the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai to survey two remote regions in the Pacific. First, they traveled to the islands of Jarvis, Howland, Baker and Wake, all part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Then they traversed to the Mariana Archipelago, working their way up the island chain from the populated islands in the south to remote locations in the north.

map of mission area

During the expedition, researchers collected data to evaluate climate and ocean change, coral ecosystem health, and the extent of coral bleaching. Scientists with NOAA, the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, San Diego University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution participated in the mission.

1. Coral Bleaching in the Pacific

The Pacific Islands experienced unusually warm ocean temperatures in the last few years, during the longest global coral bleaching event on record to date. Prior to the bleaching event, Jarvis Island had very high coral cover. Preliminary surveys in 2015 and 2016 indicated that most coral colonies died due to coral bleaching. While at Jarvis in 2017, researchers surveyed these coral reef communities and assessed the recovery potential from the thermal stress that caused the coral to bleach.
All images courtesy of NOAA:
Coral reef colonies near Jarvis Island; Image credit:Tate Wester

2. Bumphead Parrotfish

The giant bumphead parrotfish is an amazing fish that can live to be 40 years old, growing up to four feet long and 100 pounds. They use their large head bumps to literally bump heads during competitive displays, when large numbers of fish aggregate to spawn on a lunar cycle. Researchers saw many bumpheads during their first day at Wake Island. The bumphead parrotfish has been heavily targeted by fishing throughout much of it’s range and is now considered globally rare by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The giant Bumphead parrotfish; credit: Andrew E. Gray
 3. Reef Life

On the east side of Agrihan Island, an octopus takes off across the rocky reef after being discovered by a diver. All reef life is important, including this clever invertebrate. These fascinating creatures can rapidly change color to blend in with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot.

octopus near Agrihan Island; credit Louise Giuseffi)
 4. Crown-of-thorns Sea Stars

The scientists found many crown-of-thorns sea stars at Alamagan Island. These prickly invertebrates feed on coral tissue. Here, the sea star leaves only the skeleton of this Acropora coral in its wake. In large numbers, they can do significant damage to coral reefs, but in small numbers, they are a natural key component of the coral reef ecosystem.

Crown-of-thorns sea stars at Alamagan Island; credit: Keisha Bahr
 5. A Rare Sighting

An extremely rare sighting at Farallon de Pajaros, scientists found this female angelfish after completing their fish survey. Little is published about this species beyond aquarium enthusiast blogs. Some describe it as being endemic to the Bonin or Osagawara Islands just south of Japan, although the researchers discovered this fish within the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument waters during their expedition.

Rare anglefish species; credit: NOAA, Andrew E. Gray)
 6. Volcanic Vents

Underwater volcanic vents near the Maug Islands release carbon dioxide gas that cause surrounding waters to acidify—a localized example of how carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere cause global climate change and ocean acidification. Maug’s carbon dioxide vents occur near coral reef ecosystems, allowing scientists to glimpse the future of these ecosystems along a naturally occurring gradient of changing ocean chemistry conditions.

Maug's underwater volcanic vents; credit: Kaylyn McCoy)
 7. Bubble Coral

Despite their appearance, these Plerogyra corals, also known as bubble coral, are actually a type of Scleractinian, or hard coral. The tissue is soft and bubble-like, and hides the hard skeleton underneath.

Bubble coral; credit: Tate Wester
 8. Colorful Nudibranch

Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) uncover many beautiful creatures, including this nudibranch. a nudibranch; credit: Ingrid Knapp)

9. Healthy Coral

Corals at Pagan Island seem to have fared much better than other areas hit hardest by the recent global coral bleaching event. Here is a close-up of an Acropora coral (typically more susceptible to bleaching events), which appears to be doing just fine.
healthy coral in Pagan; credit: Ingrid Knapp
 10. Stars in the Sand

If you look closely in the sand, sometimes you can find “star dust,” or the star-shaped skeletal remains of Foraminifera, microscopic unicellular organisms that form an important part of the marine food chain.

Star-shaped skeletal remains of Foraminifera, microscopic unicellular protists; credit: Louise Giuseffi)

DLNR Responds to Circuit Court Ruling on Aquarium Fishing Permits

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a statement on Friday, Oct. 28, in response to a Circuit Court ruling on aquarium fishing permits.

Yellow tang, one of the Hawaiian reef inhabitants most sought by aquarium fish collectors, will get greater protections under rules signed by the governor. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree ruled on Friday that, based upon a Hawaiʻi Supreme Court opinion issued on Sept. 6, 2017, existing permits for use of fine mesh nets to catch aquatic life for aquarium purposes are illegal and invalid. Judge Crabtree also ordered the DLNR not to issue any new permits pending environmental review.

In its statement on Friday, officials with the DLNR said the department continues to believe that existing aquarium fishing practices are sustainable and environmentally sound.

The department also expressed appreciation for local businesses and families that depend on the industry for their livelihoods, but said it respects Judge Crabtree’s ruling and will fully comply so long as it remains in effect.

VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Tulsi Gabbard is calling for immediate action to put a stop to a dangerous move executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration. Unless the decision is overturned, thousands of jobs will be lost and an entire Alaskan watershed will be destroyed—killing the aquatic life within it and endangering the people who, for thousands of years, have depended on the fish and miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats it supports.

Tulsi Gabbard, a lifelong environmentalist with a proven record of protecting our environment, explains the critical situation facing Bristol Bay, Alaska and calls on Congress to take action to protect it.

Nearly half of the world’s Sockeye Salmon comes from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Its watershed employs over 14,000 full-and part-time workers, generates $1.5 billion dollars in economic activity, and is home to 25 federally recognized tribal governments—many of whom have maintained a salmon-based culture and subsistence-based way of life for more than 4,000 years.

Yet the world’s most valuable salmon fishery is facing a direct threat by the very government agency given the job to protect it—the Environmental Protection Agency. Its newest administrator and Trump nominee, Scott Pruitt, recently held closed-door meetings with Canadian-owned mining company Pebble Limited Partnership about developing a copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay larger than Manhattan and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just over an hour after the meeting, Pruitt rescinded federal salmon protections in the area, opening the door for development and mining.

Despite numerous studies and historical data over the years that cite the ecological and economic importance of protecting Bristol Bay from mining project development, Pruitt has made it clear that he has no qualms with brokering deals at the expense of the American people and the planet.
To quote his own agency’s 2014 assessment, such a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources,” and the loss of miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats. In addition, the EPA calculated a 95% chance of spill, per pipeline, in 25 years, threatening “acute exposure to toxic water and chronic exposure to toxic sediment” to fish and invertebrates.

Along with the virtual destruction of these species and wetlands, this would poison the watershed and needlessly endanger the communities who have relied upon the Sockeye Salmon for sustenance for thousands of years. The cost of destroying thousands of jobs and decimating the environment and resources these communities rely on is too great to measure.

The economics of Bristol Bay are everything President Trump promised to protect: American workers supplying American families and businesses through American jobs.

Yet the president and his administration have demonstrated time and again that they are eager to put their friends and business partners’ interests and profit before the health and wellbeing of the American people.

Hawaiʻi and Alaska have long shared a special and unique relationship, working together across party lines for the wellbeing of our people. For decades, we’ve worked together to empower our native communities, promote our local economies, secure resources for our rural populations, and much more. Now, we must stand together again and urge our colleagues in Congress to join the fight to protect Bristol Bay and its irreplaceable resources before it is too late.

Additional ‘Alalā Released Into Natural Area Reserve

Second Group of Rare Crows Joins First Group in Native Forests of Hawai’i Island

Five young ‘alalā, two females and three males, were released into Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on the Island of Hawai‘i on Wednesday, October 11th.  This second group of birds joins a previous group that had been released into the forest at the end of September.  These eleven birds represent what conservationists hope will be the beginning of a recovered population of the endangered crow species on the island.

The ‘alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program.

“Our efforts to bring this species back from the brink of extinction have been tremendously bolstered by our ability to protect a small population of ‘alalā in a conservation breeding program in Hawai‘i,” said Michelle Bogardus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Geographic Team Leader for Maui Nui and the Hawai’i Islands.  “Now that we have built up the population to more than 125 birds at the Hawaiian Bird Center we can begin the long road to recovering this incredible species in its native habitat.”

The first group of ‘alalā released into the forests of Hawai‘i in late 2016 encountered predation pressures from the native Hawaiian hawk, or `Io.  Surviving birds from this first group were brought back into aviaries while a team of conservationists looked at ways to improve their chances in the next reintroduction.

“Knowing that there is a high mortality rate associated with releasing species into the wild, particularly in a situation like this where the species has been absent from native habitats for close to two decades, the ‘Alalā Working Group looked closely at how to improve the many factors that might affect the success of these two groups,” said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, Project Coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project. “The team developed new strategies that took into account outcomes from the last release, while adapting management techniques to improve successful transition to the wild.”

The concerted reintroduction efforts, funded by the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have addressed challenges by changing the timing of release to avoid the peak of winter storms, changing the release site location, releasing mixed-sex cohorts with established social associations, and enhancing the “antipredator training program” to reinforce the instinctual behaviors for responding to predators like `Io.

“The first group has stayed together, foraging close to the release aviary and creating social groups with each other similar to what we expect for young birds of this species,” said Joshua Pang-Ching, Research Coordinator for the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.  “We also observed some alarm calling showing us that these individuals are very aware of their surroundings and are learning to respond to the natural threats that may occur in their environment.”

The team will continue to monitor the group of eleven birds in the NAR for years to come.  The NAR is an area that The Three Mountain Alliance and DLNR have worked for decades to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents one of the types of habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline.

‘Alalā have a legacy of being an integral part of the life of the Hawaiian forest, as they eat and assist with the dispersal of native plant seeds. ‘Alalā are not only ecologically significant as dispersers of Hawai’i’s native plants, but they are significantly revered in Hawaiian culture.  The reintroduction of this species is expected to play an important part in the overall recovery of native ecosystems.

Television Special Documents Lehua Island Restoration Project

The recent project aimed at eradicating invasive rats from the State of Hawai‘i’s Seabird Sanctuary on Lehua Island is the subject of a half-hour long TV documentary that chronicles the operation from beginning to end.

Lehua Island

Scheduled for broadcast on KFVE-TV (K5) on Saturday, Oct. 21st and Sunday, Oct. 22nd at 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively, the program was produced by DLNR with support from the Lehua Island Restoration Steering Committee; the group of government agencies, non-profit and community organizations, and other supporters involved in the eradication of rats.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We see this as an opportunity to show people exactly what happened during the trio of aerial applications of rodenticide in August and September, as well as to highlight the stunning beauty of Lehua Island, the incredible diversity of bird life possible on a rat-free island, and the tremendous amount of planning and thought that led up to the eradication project. Few people actually get to go to Lehua and I think viewers will be astounded that this little island off Kaua‘i’s west side is so rich in life – with the successful demise of rats there, soon to be a much richer place in all respects.”

Island Conservation (IC) is the world renowned organization contracted by the State to conduct the restoration project. Dr. Patty Baiao, Hawai‘i Program Manager for IC, explained, “This show is incredibly visual and is in alignment with our oft-stated goal of being completely transparent about the restoration project.  We understand and appreciate community concerns about dropping rodenticide on an island, but hope that when people see and hear from the dozens of really dedicated individuals closest to this project, they will come to the realization that this was done with extraordinary care, thought, pre-planning and execution.”

While no rats have been spotted by monitoring teams since after the first aerial application in August, Lehua Island will not be declared rat-free until a year after the last application. Rats are documented to be voracious predators of seabird eggs, chicks, and the seeds of native plants that seabirds rely on.

The television program includes interviews with project leaders and participants, with community members, cultural practitioners, and outside experts who all reinforce the science and cultural reasons for the removal of rats from Lehua.

from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Updated Map of Lava Flow Field

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of September 21 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of October 12 is shown in red. Older Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line is the trace of the active lava tube.

The blue lines over the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Responders Continue Efforts to Remove Fishing Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu – Pacific Paradise Catches Fire

Responders will continue efforts to remove the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise aground off Honolulu Sunday.

At first light the salvage team will reassess the vessel and attempt another towing evolution if weather allows this to be done safely.

The vessel remained grounded Saturday despite several attempts to tow it from the reef located off Waikiki’s Kaimana Beach during the most favorable tide.

During work to dewater the vessel gasoline used to fuel a dewatering pump splashed on hot surfaces causing it to ignite and start a fire aboard. The seven members of the salvage team abandoned ship, were picked up by Ocean Safety crews, and returned to the salvage vessel with no injuries.

Surf lessons continued as the Pacific Paradise fishing boat continued to burn off-shore of Kaimana Beach. Photo via Kaimana Pine

Hawaii Fire Department crew dropped water on the vessel from a helicopter with a bambi bucket attached knocking down the blaze to a smolder. The fire rendered the vessel unsafe to board. Salvage crews continued efforts to tow the vessel making little progress and were forced to cease towing operations as the tide went out.

Front row seats to Honolulu Fire Department’s Air 1 effort at extinguishing the flames. Photo via Kaimana Pine

A release of roughly 200 gallons of diesel fuel was detected by responders. Until crews can access the vessel and survey the damage it is unknown exactly where this release came from. After lightening efforts during the week two-thirds of the fuel was removed along with the marine batteries leaving a maximum of 1,500 gallons aboard prior to the release of fuel.

NOAA crews are standing by to assist marine mammals as necessary, none have been affected thus far. The Department of Health has also reached out to residents and beach goers in the area to caution them against swimming in the vicinity of the vessel and discuss water quality monitoring.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittieake (WPB 87316) will remain on scene to monitor the vessel and enforce the safety zone.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are forecast as 28 mph winds with 3 to 5 foot waves and a long 3-foot south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to remain through midweek. The vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. Those crewmen were released to Customs and Border Protection. The cause of the grounding remains under investigation.

Breakouts Remain Active on Lava Flow Field, Changes to Ocean Entry Lava Delta

Surface breakouts (light in color) remain active on the upper coastal plain. These breakouts are fed by both the main eastern tube—left of the kipuka and below the tube’s fume trace on the pali—and from the eastern June 26 breakout branch, visible to the right of the kipuka.

The misty day obscured a view of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, which, on a clear day, would be visible on the skyline in the center of the photo. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

The leading edge of the coastal plain breakouts is on the western (left) flow margin and is approximately 1.3 km (0.8 mi) from the closest section of the emergency road. At the Kamokuna ocean entry, recent breakouts near the edge of the cliff (lighter in color) have been spilling onto the lava delta (foreground) for the past few weeks, resurfacing almost the entire area of the delta.

Tragedy on Kauai: Multi-Agency Community Response to Pilot Whale Strandings on Kaua`i – Five Dead

UPDATE: Five whales have now tragically passed away.

Update: A third dead whale washed ashore this afternoon.

This morning NOAA Fisheries, the U.S Coast Guard, Kauai County Fire and Police Departments and the DLNR Divisions of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) joined concerned community members and native Hawaiian cultural practitioners to respond to a beaching event and attending to two five Pilot whales that died on Kalapaki Beach on the north side of Nawiliwili Harbor.

Kaua‘i County provided heavy machinery to lift the deceased stranded whales off the beach and onto truck trailers provided by DOCARE. The whales were taken to an undisclosed location where autopsies are expected to continue into the night.

David Schofield, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Response Coordinator in Hawai‘i said, “We have no indication of a cause of death at this time.  Disease and old age are common causes of death for whales, but it’s too soon to know.  Post mortem exams occasionally reveal a likely cause, but more often they are inconclusive, and we must then wait for lab test results.  Working with the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, our stranding response partner, we will ensure the post mortem exam and lab tests are thorough and comprehensive.”

Gregg Howald, Director of Global and External Affairs for Island Conservation, the organization that led recent rat eradication efforts on Lehua Island, said, “As conservationists committed to preserving wildlife, we are deeply saddened by these mortalities. We know, with the highest degree of confidence that the Lehua Restoration Project and the rodenticides applied in that project have virtually no chance of contributing to the whales’ demise; The likelihood of any impact to pilot whales is so unlikely, it is bordering on the impossible. The good people of Hawaii have had the good fortune to observe natural wildlife in paradise for hundreds of years, and they can tell us that Pilot Whale beachings are quite common.”

Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i received initial notification of the stranding from an off duty Coast Guard member who was out surfing. Station personnel immediately called the local NOAA representative on Kaua‘i for direction and response. Coast Guard personnel were directed to monitor the whales and prevent anyone from touching them prior to the arrival of the NOAA staff within 15 minutes. Once on scene, NOAA personnel evaluated the animals and directed Coast Guard and Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel on the proper way to reintroduce the animals to the ocean. Once in the water Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel and volunteers aboard outrigger canoes escorted the whales out of the harbor.

“We appreciate the public’s concern for these animals and the strong partnership we have with NOAA and other agencies to address strandings,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Winiarski, officer-in-charge Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i. “NOAA are the experts and the lead agency in these cases. They have the veterinarians, personnel and authority to properly handle marine mammal strandings. The public can best help stranded marine animals by contacting NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9850. Serious injury can result when untrained people attempt to hold or move these animals.”

At Kalapaki Beach native Hawaiians offered pules for the whales that stranded and it’s expected additional pule will be offered prior to their burial. Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho commented, “It was a very emotional scene this morning at Kalapaki, and it leaves us very heavy-hearted that we could not save all the whales. But at the same time, everyone on the beach pulled together with a sense of aloha to help the whales in a way that was respectful and professional. Mahalo to the state DLNR, the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Kaua‘i Marriott, and our responding personnel with the Kaua‘i Police Department, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Ocean Safety Bureau, and all the volunteers involved in the care, concern, and assistance of the whales.”

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point also is conducting fly-overs of Kalapaki Bay to further assess the situation, and look for any other stranded marine mammals. NOAA, DLNR and county representatives will continue monitoring the beach and the harbor through at least tomorrow in the event other whales become stranded on the beach.

Pilot whales are considered among the most social of all whale species. On the East Coast and in New Zealand hundreds of them have been known to become stranded on beaches at one time. Scientists believe their very close social connections may account for behavior that suggests when one member of the family gets sick or in trouble all the others will stick with them.

Response to Grounded Vessel Off Honolulu Continues

Responders continue work, Friday, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf.

Responders continue work, Oct. 12, 2017, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf. The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides after removing about two thirds of the the fuel aboard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

“We are working diligently with the salvage team and our partners to ensure a safe and deliberate response,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “The safety of the public and the environment remain our top priority. We have removed about two-thirds of the fuel aboard significantly reducing the pollution threat. Due to the tides and incoming weather we have transitioned to the towing evolution to take advantage of our best window for removal of the vessel prior to the arrival of stronger winds, surf and swells this weekend.”

The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides.

Roughly 3,000 gallons of fuel was removed by the salvage team before operations were suspended Thursday. Approximately 1,500 gallons remain.

Further assessment by the salvage team Thursday revealed the initial amount of fuel aboard to be 4,500 total gallons of diesel, less than previously reported. No pollution has been sighted in the water or on shore.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are 11 mph with waves of up to 3 feet with a long south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to degrade through the weekend. Weather for Oahu is forecast as 25 mph winds with wind waves to 6 feet, but the vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

UH Hilo Interns Join Scientists on Marine Research Expedition

Two interns from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Marine Option Program (MOP) have recently returned from a 25-day expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where they took part in the 2017 Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAMP) cruise conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

School of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) and a NMFS PIFSC CRED diver conducting fish counts at Swains Island, American Samoa, as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP). NOAA photo by Ben Ruttenburg of NMFS SEFSC.

UH Hilo’s Roseanna (Rosie) Lee and Keelee Martin were joined by UH Mānoa MOP intern Colton Johnson aboard the Research Vessel Hi’ialakai on the journey to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), where they worked alongside regular NOAA divers as full members of survey crews, conducting Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs) of reef fish, corals and non-coral invertebrates. Their work was guided by NOAA scientists and researchers from Papahānaumokuākea, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and UH Hilo.

The survey crews visited Lehua, French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll and Kure Atoll within Papahānaumokuākea to conduct their various activities. The results of their research will help scientists gain a better understanding of the health of coral reef ecosystems throughout the archipelago.

Martin worked on the benthic (sea floor) team that counted, measured and assessed the health of the coral reefs, which are home to over 7,000 marine species. She said the experience made her a better diver, scientist and team player.

“This was a humbling and gratifying opportunity that allowed me to work in an area few people will ever see alongside acclaimed scientists mentoring me the whole way through,” Martin said.

Lee was assigned to the fish survey team, whose work included identifying, counting, and sizing fish for set intervals of time and taking photographs of their habitat. She is now a far more confident researcher and scientific diver.

“The kind of experience you get by jumping into the field and actually getting to do the same work as the established scientists you are working with is a learning experience you can’t get any other way,” Lee said.

Their work drew praise from the scientific leads on their respective teams, who both predicted amazing futures for the interns. REA fish team head Jason Leonard said Lee and Johnson “both performed at very high levels of professionalism and overcame obstacles.” Benthic team leader Stephen Matadobra said of Martin “her excitement and enthusiasm to be in the Monument and collect data gave the team a positive mood every morning.”

Martin, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science, a minor in English and a MOP certificate, wants to become a science writer. Lee, a senior, seeking a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and a MOP certificate, is still considering her career path.

The UH Hilo internships are made possible through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the NOAA PMNM Division and are available to MOP students who complete the two-week field SCUBA diving course QUEST (Quantitative Underwater Ecological Surveying Techniques). The agreement provides funding to hire up to four students each year to work on the RAMP cruises. Lisa Parr, Instructor of Marine Science, MOP Site Coordinator at UH Hilo, and Principal Investigator on the MOA says the research opportunities the program provides to work with established scientists on important research prepares the students well for careers in marine science.

“Our partnership with NOAA provides an invaluable opportunity for our students, who consistently receive outstanding reviews for their performance on the cruises, and we’re extremely proud of how well they represent UH Hilo, the Marine Option Program, and QUEST,” Parr said.

Additional information on the RAMP cruises is available at
https://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/pacific_ramp.php. For more information on the UH Hilo internships with NOAA email lparr@hawaii.edu.

Responders Work to Remove Fuel, Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu

Responders are working to lighter all potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu.“The safety of the public is our primary concern as we work with our state partners and responsible party to address the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and captain of the port. “I want to thank our state and federal partners who worked with us to affect a safe rescue of the crew and continue to work with us on the response. The Coast Guard is also investigating the cause of the grounding.”

An incident management team has been established. The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party and commercial salvors to mitigate the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel. The salvage team is stabilizing the vessel with anchors and will attempt to lighter the vessel fully before dark Wednesday with the intent to remove it from the reef during the next optimum high tide, currently forecast for late morning Thursday.

Approximately 8,000 gallons of diesel, 55 gallons of lube and hydraulic oils and four marine batteries are reported aboard.

A safety zone has been established and is being patrolled by Coast Guard crews. The vessel is about 1,000 feet offshore of Kaimana Beach. The zone extends 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

The Coast Guard is working with NOAA’s marine mammal protection division, sanctuaries division, Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Fisheries and DLNR to minimize impact to any marine mammals. DLNR’s divisions of Aquatic Resources, Boating and Ocean Recreation and the HEER and DOH are assisting in evaluating and minimizing risks to aquatic resources from the grounding and salvage operations and potential fuel spills. No marine mammals have been impacted. Coast Guard survey crews will walk to the beaches as an additional impact assessment tool.

Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The crew was released to Customs and Border Protection personnel for further action.
The Pacific Paradise a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. The vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa and they were en route to the commercial port of Honolulu. No injuries or pollution are reported. Weather at the time of the incident was not a factor.

Two-Month Repair Work on Akaka Falls State Park Trail Gets Underway

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has begun repair work to the 0.4-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State Park, necessitated due to accidental damage caused by earlier removal of invasive albizia trees in February this year.  Site Engineering was selected as contractor and cost estimate is $297,400. Work is expected to be completed in December.

Akaka Falls (DLNR Photo)

Initial repair work began last week on the longer trail section that is to the right of the loop trail starting point that was closed after the damage. Workers are removing and repairing damaged concrete walkways and steps, and replacing railings

From October 16 – 20 the park will be completely closed for work on the shorter, left side of the trail to the Akaka Falls lookout.  Hopefully this will be the only time the park will need to be closed. If additional closure is needed, an announcement will be posted on the Division of State Parks website and in local news media.

Aside from the closure dates of October 16-20, access to the Akaka Falls lookout area may be interrupted along the shorter, open walkway path, due to equipment and/or material transport to the damaged areas.

The park offers a pleasant family walk through lush tropical vegetation to scenic vista points overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. It requires some physical exertion and will take about 1/2 hour for the full loop.

The paved route, which includes multiple steps in places (not wheelchair accessible), makes an easy to follow loop offering stunning viewpoints of the two waterfalls. To view ‘Akaka Falls only, take the path to the left (south) from the first junction. The waterfall view is just a short walk down the path. For more information see http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/hawaii/akaka-falls-loop-trail/

Hawaiian Monk Seal “Kaimana” to go up for “Adoption,” Benefit to Support Marine Mammal Response and Rescue in Hawai‘i

For weeks, thousands flocked to Kaimana beach to get a glimpse of the Hawaiian monk seal “Rocky” and her new pup, “Kaimana.” The new pup, the first born in Waikīkī in decades, captured the hearts of millions across Hawai‘i and the world. Now, some lucky individual will have the opportunity to “adopt” the pup at an upcoming fundraiser for marine mammal conservation.

Photo by Jason O’Rourke

Kaimana and three other monk seal pups born this year will be up for “adoption” at the event. The “adoption” includes a large individual framed photo of the pup, a certificate of “adoption,” and an opportunity to visit your “adopted” pup with a monk seal volunteer team (conditions apply).

All of this and more will be part of an event Dolphin Quest Oahu and The Kahala Hotel & Resort are hosting to raise funds for Hawai’i Marine Animal Response and their extraordinary network of volunteers who help to preserve Hawaii’s protected marine species. The event takes place on Friday, October 20, 2017 at The Kahala Hotel & Resort (5000 Kahala Ave, Honolulu, HI) from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The event will feature live Hawaiian music from five-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winners Waipuna, delectable food and drinks from The Kahala, and a silent auction featuring local fashion and art.

Individual tickets are available for $125.00 and can be purchased at bit.ly/alohaformonkseals

Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response (HMAR) is Hawaii’s largest non-profit marine species conservation and response organization. HMAR covers approximately 300 miles of coastline on the islands of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi with a support staff of volunteers, interns and employees. Members of this staff are deployed to the field in response to sightings and to perform surveys, outreach activity, and interventions nearly 9 times per day, on average. Their past annual activity includes over 2,400 protected marine species sightings, over 2,700 occasions of team members engaged in shoreline responses and surveys, and over 50 Hawaiian monk seal and sea turtle related escalations or emergency responses.

Proceeds from the event will go to much needed supplies and equipment for the organization. “We are a small organization with some mighty big responsibilities on our hands, but we have a team of passionate volunteers and staff who dedicate thousands of hours of their time caring for the animals they love. This event is both an opportunity to thank them and to raise money for our nonprofit,” explains Jon Gelman, founder of HMAR.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS:

E Ho‘onui i ke Aloha no ke Kai Ola (To increase our aloha for the living sea) is a benefit for Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response (HMAR) and their network of staff and volunteers who help to preserve Hawaii’s protected marine species every day. This public event will be held at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, and it is sponsored by Dolphin Quest Oahu.

The anticipated high point of the benefit will be the auction, which will feature art, photos, and crafts from throughout Hawai‘i. Also up for auction will be the symbolic “adoption” of each of the four Hawaiian monk seal pups born on Oahu this year, including Wailea, the monk seal born off Ka‘ōhao (Lanikai) and Kaimana, the now-famed pup born in Waikīkī. The symbolic “Adoption” will include:

• A large framed photo of the seal
• A certificate of adoption
• A unique opportunity to visit the seal with the volunteer network (conditions apply)

HMAR also conducts public outreach and education for schools, the public and Hawai’i organizations. Earlier this year, Dolphin Quest was recognized by HMAR as a Hawaii Marine Animal Steward in partnership with Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

Dolphin Quest provides ongoing support and hands-on training for Hawai’i’s stranding network volunteers. In May of this year, Dolphin Quest hosted veterinarians from multiple Hawaiian islands providing valuable experience with healthy dolphins to aid their wild stranding response efforts.

Tickets to the event are available for purchase online for $125 per person as well as premium sponsorship packages for $1000. Availability is limited and the organizers are urging the public to secure tickets as soon as possible to attend this evening of music, food, festivities and marine animal conservation.

Tickets include a gift, heavy gourmet pūpū, and signature non-alcoholic drinks. $1000 Sponsorships include five tickets to the event and promotion of a business or organization in the program and leading up to the event.

Hawaii Governor – Regarding the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump Administration’s irresponsible decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will have devastating effects on our planet for generations to come.

Climate change is real. Hawaiʻi recognizes this and is seeing the impacts firsthand with rising tides, a shrinking biodiversity, massive coral bleaching and eroding coastlines. Weather is becoming more extreme, severely impacting our neighbors.

This island in the Pacific has already taken matters into its own hands by committing to the Paris Accord and hitting key milestones in its ambitious plans to power Hawai‘i on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The State of Hawai‘i is already lowering emissions while growing jobs and the economy. As the federal government steps down in its leadership role for clean energy, Hawaiʻi is rising to the occasion and remains committed.

Governor David Y. Ige

Senator Schatz Statement on Trump Administration’s Decision to Repeal the Clean Power Plan

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Co-Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

“Once again, the administration has put partisan ideology above the health of the American people, our economy, and our planet.  Like their failed attempts to undermine clean water and methane rules, this effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan has no basis in law and will absolutely be challenged in court.

“Climate change is the challenge of our generation. It’s our obligation as the indispensable nation to lead and take action. The administration’s short-sighted decision today abdicates that role. But in the absence of leadership from the White House, momentum behind clean energy is growing, as states, cities, and the private sector continue to move ahead. Our commitment to fighting climate change won’t be weakened. We will continue to take action, with or without the administration’s help.”

Senator Hirono Secures Federal Funding for Clean Energy Research and Development in Hawaii

Kampachi Farms and Makai Ocean Engineering Receive $1.5 Million to Harness Power of Seaweed as Potential Energy Source

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that two Hawaii businesses will receive $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding to develop offshore seaweed as a potential clean energy source. The funding was awarded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program.

“These grants recognize the innovative work being done in Hawaii to research and develop renewable energy resources,” said Senator Hirono, member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “This funding will assess the viability of developing seaweed as an energy source, and explore how to use local resources to meet Hawaii’s renewable energy goals.”

Under the grant, Kampachi Farms in Kailua-Kona received $500,000 to develop an offshore seaweed production farm and test harvesting techniques for future use in renewable energy production.

“Marine agronomy – the culture of limu (seaweed) in oceanic conditions – offers potential for increased production of food, feeds and fuel,” said Neil Sims, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Kampachi Farms. “Using the power of the ocean’s primary production, we can increase availability of healthful food for people, feeds for fish and other animals, and biofuels for a carbon neutral planet, with minimal use of land, freshwater or artificial fertilizers. Offshore culture of limu connects innovative aquaculture with Hawaiian culinary traditions. It also offers – in our estimation – the only possible means of harnessing entrepreneurial resources to create incentives for countering ocean acidification.”

In addition, Makai Ocean Engineering in Honolulu will receive $995,978 to create a model that simulates the ocean to help researchers determine the proper design and estimate costs of offshore seaweed farming systems.

“Makai is thrilled to be selected for award alongside Kampachi Farms by ARPA-E under this innovative program,” said Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai Ocean Engineering. “In addition to advancing the state of the art in macroalgae cultivation, Makai will be strengthening our expertise in technologies with many other applications, such as autonomous and underwater robotics, biological and oceanographic numerical modeling, and offshore engineering. This project builds on our 44 year track record of developing cutting-edge technologies and bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs home to Hawaii for our kamaaina.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for ARPA-E funding. Earlier this year, she wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging for continued funding for ARPA-E after the President threatened to slash the program by $20 million in an effort to wind it down.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Launch Online Tool to Streamline Solar Application Process

Customers submitting new applications to install private rooftop solar can now complete the process entirely online using a new tool launched by the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

The Customer Interconnection Tool (CIT) is believed to be the first of its kind to provide a seamless, start-to-finish online solar application process that allows customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to check the status of their applications. The tool provides a user-friendly interface to guide contractors and customers through all steps of the Customer Self-Supply program application process, from submittal to finalizing the agreement.

“We’re excited to offer a streamlined electronic process to our customers,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service. “The tool is able to show customers exactly where they are in the application process, which eliminates guesswork. This is one more way to make interacting with our companies as smooth and as easy as possible.”

CIT allows applicants to submit all of their information, including electronic documents, online. For convenience, customers and their designated representatives will have the ability to submit electronic signatures as well.

Applicants are prompted to provide required documentation, reducing the potential for delays caused by errors of omission. The tool also automatically calculates the system size based on four design guidelines, which simplifies the procedure.

Customers will receive regular status updates by email as various milestones are reached, keeping them informed every step of the way.

For more information, visit:

www.hawaiianelectric.com/DistributedEnergyResources

www.hawaiianelectric.com/CITonline

State Holds First Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Meeting

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in partnership with the State Office of Planning, will be holding the first-ever Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (Climate Commission) meeting on October 11 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort, Coral Ballrooms 1 & 2 from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM.

On June 6, 2017, Governor David Ige signed Act 32 Session Laws of Hawai‘i, 2017, making Hawai‘i the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris Climate Accord.  The Paris agreement was signed by 195 nations on November 4, 2016, and is the largest, concerted global effort to combat climate change to date.

Unprecedented warming of the atmosphere due to greenhouse gas emissions poses a significant threat to the people of our State.  Suzanne Case, Co-chair of the Climate Commission said, “Hawaii and our Pacific island neighbors contribute a proportionately small amount to global warming, but will experience disproportionate significant effects due to sea level rise, drought, increased storminess, and ecological changes in our marine and terrestrial environments.   The Climate Commission will work with all stakeholders to address these challenges by systematically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our resiliency to its serious impacts, utilizing the principles and contributing to the goals set by the Paris agreement.”

It is anticipated that the new Climate Commission will provide direction, facilitation, coordination and planning among state and county agencies, federal agencies, and other partners about climate change mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gases) and climate change resiliency strategies. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise adaptation, water and agricultural security, and natural resource stewardship.  The Climate Commission will be placed under DLNR for administrative purposes and is headed jointly by the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Director of the State Office of Planning, or their designees.

This first meeting will give Commission members a status update of the State Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report that is due to the State Legislature at the end of the year. It includes an open discussion for the setting of the Climate Commission’s priorities.  Governor David Ige will make an appearance.

The meeting is open to everyone. Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance, is asked to please contact the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at least four days prior to the public hearing.  For more information contact the OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/