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UH Manoa Student Wins EPA Grant to Study Coral Resiliency

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced more than $1.6 million in Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowships for 13 students at universities in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The fellowships, which will allow these students to further their education while conducting environmental research, were part of over $6 million awarded to 52 students across the nation.

“Through EPA’s funding, the STAR fellows will pursue innovative research projects while attaining advanced academic degrees,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The work these students are doing is inspirational, and will help address environmental challenges in fields such as atmospheric chemistry, green energy, hydrogeology and toxicology.”

Since 1995, the STAR fellowship program has awarded nearly 2,000 students a total of more than $65 million in funding. Recipients have engaged in innovative research opportunities, with some becoming prominent leaders in environmental science. This year’s STAR fellows are poised to become the next generation of environmental professionals who can make significant impacts in environmental science and beyond.

EPA Grant

University of Hawaii, Manoa: Christopher Wall

Project Title: The Dynamic Interaction of Nutrient Pollution and Seawater Temperature on Reef Corals: Is Nutrient Enrichment Undermining Coral Resilience?

Award Amount: $132,000

Objective:

Local nutrient pollution and global ocean warming threaten coral reefs by disrupting the symbiosis between reef corals and their symbiont algae (Symbiodinium spp.). Nutrient pollution alters the exchange of metabolites between host and symbiont and can increase the sensitivity of corals to thermal stress, thereby affecting the ability for corals to respond to regional and global environmental change. This research will use field and laboratory experiments to test for nutrient and temperature effects on the performance, bleaching, and nutrition of reef corals and Symbiodinium to offer insights on the response of corals to changing environmental conditions.

Approach:

I will use carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes (d13C, d15N) to test for effects of temperature and nutrient on reef coral nutrition and the autotrophic performance of genetically distinct Symbiodinium types. In a field experiment I will test for nutrient effects on the nutritional modes of corals across a gradient of human impacted reefs in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. I will then design a laboratory experiment to test for nutrient and temperature effects on the fixation, exchange, and storage of autotrophic metabolites among coral species and Symbiodinium clades. Data will be used to construct mass balanced carbon budgets, stable isotope mixing models, and trophic relationship for corals under changing environmental conditions.

Expected Results:

The interaction of nutrient pollution and temperature stress affects the function of the coral-algae symbiosis and shapes ecological outcomes for coral reefs. Nutrient pollution destabilizes reef corals by favoring the retention of autotrophic metabolites by the symbiont at the expense of the host, while temperature stress disrupts symbiont photosynthesis and drastically reduces autotrophic nutrition available to the host. Corals display alternative strategies for coping with environmental stress, including shifting modes of nutrition (autotrophy vs. heterotrophy) and associating with stress tolerant and functionally distinct Symbiodinium partners. However, the capacity to be flexible in nutrient acquisition or in symbiont partnerships is not shared among all coral taxa. By evaluating nutritional flexibility and autotrophic performance among reef corals and symbiont types it will be possible to identify whether nutrient and temperature effects on reef corals are conserved or dependent on species or host-symbiont combinations.

Hurricane Had Little Impact on Pu’u O’o

Calm after the storm—a beautiful day on Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone. Rain from Hurricane Madeline had little impact on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, shown here, or lava flow 61g.

hvo9216View of the lava pond within the Puʻu ʻŌʻō west pit crater, which is about 50 m (164 ft) across. Weak spattering on the lava pond surface, about 23 m (75 ft) below the crater rim, is visible through the thick volcanic gas cloud

hvo9216aAn aerial view of a new breakout (light-colored flow at center of image) from the 61g tube. The breakout began with some vigor on the morning August 29, but today it was sluggish, with only a few scattered pāhoehoe toes still active on the margins of the flow.

Active breakout from head of tube system

Active breakout from head of tube system

View of the 61g flow field, from Puʻu ʻŌʻō (visible on top, left horizon) to the westernmost ocean entry at the coast, where lava spills into the sea, creating a lava delta.

Fume emanating from the flow field—on the coastal plain (above the ocean entry) and high on the pali (cliff) in the far distance—delineate part of the active tube system that carries lava from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent to the sea.

Fume emanating from the flow field—on the coastal plain (above the ocean entry) and high on the pali (cliff) in the far distance—delineate part of the active tube system that carries lava from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent to the sea.

A closer view of where lava is entering the sea along a 1.1-km- (0.7-mi-) wide section of the coastline. There is no evidence that high surf from Hurricane Madeline had any impact on the lava deltas that have formed, and continue to grow, at the ocean entries.

Discoloration of the ocean water is caused by fragments of volcanic glass, which are produced when hot lava enters cool seawater and shatters into tiny pieces that are carried by currents along the shore.

Discoloration of the ocean water is caused by fragments of volcanic glass, which are produced when hot lava enters cool seawater and shatters into tiny pieces that are carried by currents along the shore.

Hawaii State Insurance Commissioner Advises Residents to Review Insurance Policies

In preparation for Hurricanes Madeline and Lester, state Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito advises residents to review their homeowner’s, hurricane, and flood insurance policies.

Lester

“With back-to-back hurricanes approaching Hawaii, reviewing your insurance policy should be part of your readiness plans,” said Ito. “Policyholders should know what type of insurance they have, what is covered under each policy, and the proper steps to take both pre- and post-storm.”

The Insurance Division also offers the following disaster preparedness tips:

  • Secure property to prevent and limit damage. Minimize the possibility of damage as much as possible to ensure the safety of yourself and your family.
  • Take an inventory of your property and belongings. Policyholders can take pictures, videos or use the free MyHome Sr.APP.book mobile app released by the National Association of Insurance Commissions (NAIC). This step can help save time in the event that a homeowner needs to file a claim, and will improve their chances of fully recovering what their policy covers.
  • Have contact information for your agent or insurer handy. Ask questions about your policy, coverage, the claim process, and identify who to contact to file a claim.
  • Review your deductible levels. This is the amount of money a policyholder will be responsible for if a claim is filed. Check with your agent or insurer to see if the claim payout is reduced by the deductible rather than paying upfront.
  • Talk with your insurer to find out the specific language that triggers a hurricane policy. Most hurricane insurance policies are triggered once a hurricane “watch” or “warning” is issued by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service, and coverage ends 72-hours after the hurricane watch or warning has been cancelled.

For more hurricane preparedness tips and information on filing a claim post-event, visit cca.hawaii.gov/ins.

The Hawaii Insurance Division oversees the Hawaii insurance industry; issues licenses; examines the fiscal condition of Hawaii-based companies; reviews rate and policy filings; and investigates insurance related complaints.

Hurricane Madeline Update

At 500 PM HST (0300 UTC), the center of Hurricane Madeline was located near latitude 18.9 North, longitude 146.3 West. Madeline is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h).

madeline8A gradual turn toward the west is expected by Tuesday, with Madeline expected to move west-southwest Tuesday night into Wednesday. Little change in forward speed is expected the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the center of Madeline will pass dangerously close to the Big Island Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 125 mph (205 km/h) with higher gusts. Madeline is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Little change in intensity is expected tonight, with gradual weakening forecast Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles (205 km).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 955 mb (28.20 inches).

Interior Department and Senator Brian Schatz Announce Additional Federal Support to Combat Rapid Ohia Death

In response to a request from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the U.S. Department of the Interior announced today $497,000 in additional federal funding to combat a tree-killing fungus that causes Rapid ‘Ohia Death (ROD), a disease that threatens the State’s tropical forests and delicate ecosystems which could jeopardize local water supplies and Hawai‘i’s economic vitality. The funding comes on the eve of the World Conservation Congress that is convening for the first time in the United States this week in Honolulu.

Rapid Ohia Death

Today’s funding announcement immediately activates an Early Detection Rapid Response Team (EDRR Team) and leverages another $673,000 of in-kind Federal contributions to suppress or contain a disease that potentially could have enormous biological, economic, social and cultural repercussions for the Aloha State. The EDRR Team comprised of Federal and state agencies and a consortium of scientists will immediately begin to conduct field surveys for the disease, support critical research to pioneer adaptive treatment protocols and complete assessments of those treatments.

“Rapid ‘Ohia Death is a biosecurity issue that warrants urgent action. It threatens to leave Hawai‘i’s forests, ecosystems, watersheds and commerce in a vulnerable state. Agencies must work together to generate the science needed to support decisive decisions,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kristen J. Sarri. “Our funding will enable this to happen. An Early Detection and Rapid Response Team will identify and rapidly respond to diseased trees while pioneering effective treatment options that will preserve the cultural significance of the ‘ohia for Native Hawaiians and enable the species to continue to provide countless ecological benefits to the State for generations to come. What we learn from this interagency approach will be applicable to addressing other invasive species of priority concern, in Hawai’i and across the United States.”

“This is an ecological emergency, and it requires everyone working together to save Hawai‘i Island’s native forests. I’m pleased to see our federal partners step up to help. The additional funding will make a big difference, and it will give us the tools to understand the disease, develop better management responses, and protect our ‘ohia,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).

At the invitation of Senator Schatz, Sarri is attending a summit today with scientific experts, leaders from the conservation community and government leaders to better understand the current status of ROD management and science, discuss developments, and identify the most pressing opportunities to make progress.

The fungal disease is attacking and killing the ‘ohia lehua, a tree species sacred to Native Hawaiians that covers nearly one million acres in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is a keystone species for 60% of Hawai‘i’s forests and is integral to keeping the State’s delicate ecosystem in balance. The fungus causing ROD, first identified in 2014, already claimed 38,000 acres of trees on Hawai‘i Island where nearly two-thirds of the tree species lives. Scientists and resource managers worry that ROD will continue to ravage Hawai‘i Island’s forests and spread to other islands. This could potentially decimate habitat for many rare, threatened and endangered species, as well as jeopardize water resources and native cultural practices unless immediate interventions are implemented, including strengthening early detection and rapid response actions.

The disease was first confirmed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Hawai‘i (UH). The State of Hawai‘i responded quickly by implementing an emergency ban on the movement of ‘ohia plant parts and soil interisland and intrastate, and requesting further assistance. Immediately, numerous agencies and organizations at the local, state and federal levels, including USFS, ARS, UH and Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formed a working group to improve detection, understand the spread and develop mitigation measures for ROD.

This multi-organizational effort facilitated sharing information, coordinated research and resource management and spurred public education and outreach efforts. As a result of these efforts, scientists were able to identify a fungus as the cause of the ‘ohia tree’s mortality, as well as develop methods to detect the fungal agent, and are tracking the spread of the disease. Hawai‘i mapped the location of diseased trees and instituted biosecurity measures to contain the spread of ROD, as well as kicked off a major public education effort to better inform landowners, resource managers and the general public about the disease.

The Federal government is committed to improving its ability to prevent invasive species from impacting national assets. The President’s Priority Agenda on enhancing climate resilience called for a national framework for the early detection of and response to invasive species. In response, an interdepartmental report, Safeguarding America’s Lands and Waters from Invasive Species: A National Framework for Early Detection and Rapid Response was released last February. The recommendations in that report have since been taken up as priority actions in the recently adopted 2016-2018 National Invasive Species Council (NISC) Management Plan. Implementation of the Management Plan is already in progress. Assessments are being conducted of the Federal authorities, programmatic structures and technical capacities needed to support a national program for the early detection of and rapid response to invasive species. NISC anticipates releasing the findings in early 2017.

22 New Cases of Hepatitis A Reported in Hawaii

hepatitis header

As of August 24, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 22 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 58 have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Eleven (11) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and three visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
228

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 8/16/16.

Places of Interest

An employee of the following food service business(es) has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. This list does not indicate these businesses are sources of this outbreak; at this time, no infections have been linked to exposure to these businesses. The likelihood that patrons of these businesses will become infected is very low. However, persons who have consumed food or drink products from these businesses during the identified dates of service should contact their healthcare provider for advice and possible preventive care.

Business Island Location Dates of Service
Chili’s Oahu Kapolei (590 Farrington Highway) July 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, and 27, 2016
Hawaiian Airlines Flight list (click here) July 1-26, 2016
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Oahu Honolulu (801 Kaheka Street) July 21-23, 26-30, and August 2-6, 9-11, 2016
Sushi Shiono Hawaii Waikoloa Beach Resort, Queen’s MarketPlace (69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive) July 5-8, 11-15, and 18-21, 2016
Taco Bell Oahu Waipio (94-790 Ukee Street) June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11, 2016
Tamashiro Market Oahu Kalihi (802 N. King Street) July 2, 4, 6–8, 11–13, 15–19, and 23, 2016
Papa John’s Waipahu Oahu Waipahu (94-1021 Waipahu Street) July 23-24, and Aug. 2, 2016
New Lin Fong bakery Oahu Chinatown (1132 Maunakea Street) July 20, 22-23, 25, 27, 29-30, and Aug. 1, 3, and 5-6, 2016

Unable to view the table? Try another web browser (e.g. Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer).

Hepatitis A — Information and Resources

Kīlauea Volcano’s Summit Lava Lake Puts on a Good Show Today

In concert with inflationary tilt, the level of Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake rose over the past day and was measured at 28 m (92 ft) below the vent rim this morning.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

With the higher lake level, and between passing heavy fog and rain showers throughout the day, vigorous spattering on the lake surface was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Zooming in on the lava lake, a closer camera view of the spattering lake surface late this afternoon.  Click to enlarge

Zooming in on the lava lake, a closer camera view of the spattering lake surface late this afternoon. Click to enlarge

Because of calm winds, noise associated with the spattering could be heard from the Jaggar Overlook—amidst the occasional rumble from weather-related thunder.

Image from this evening:

This image is from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

hvo 82316 liveThe camera is looking SSE towards the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) from the webcam. For scale, the crater wall of Halemaʻumaʻu behind the eruptive vent is about 85 m (~280 ft) high.

 

Coast Guard Tows Disabled Fishing Vessel Back To Honolulu

The Coast Guard safely towed a disabled 46-foot commercial fishing vessel with three persons aboard back to the Port of Honolulu, Friday.

The Coast Guard safely towed a disabled 46-foot commercial fishing vessel with three persons aboard back to the Port of Honolulu, Aug. 19, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu relieved the the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB 87316) in towing the vessel at the entrance of the Port of Honolulu and brought them back safely to the pier. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Mazer/Released)

The Coast Guard safely towed a disabled 46-foot commercial fishing vessel with three persons aboard back to the Port of Honolulu, Aug. 19, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu relieved the the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB 87316) in towing the vessel at the entrance of the Port of Honolulu and brought them back safely to the pier. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Mazer/Released)

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu relieved the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB 87316) in towing the vessel at the entrance of the Port of Honolulu and brought them safely to the pier.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a report Wednesday from the crew of fishing vessel Lily Kaileia that they were disabled and adrift approximately 115 miles south of Honolulu Harbor.

Sector Honolulu launched the Kittiwake to tow the Lily Kaileia back to shore due to the fact that the vessel was drifting and there was no commercial or private vessel assistance available.

The Coast Guard safely towed a disabled 46-foot commercial fishing vessel with three persons aboard back to the Port of Honolulu, Aug. 19, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu relieved the the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB 87316) in towing the vessel at the entrance of the Port of Honolulu and brought them back safely to the pier. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Mazer/Released)

The Coast Guard safely towed a disabled 46-foot commercial fishing vessel with three persons aboard back to the Port of Honolulu, Aug. 19, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu relieved the the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB 87316) in towing the vessel at the entrance of the Port of Honolulu and brought them back safely to the pier. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Mazer/Released)

The Kittiwake is a Marine Protector Class Patrol Boat homeported in Honolulu. As one of Sector Honolulu’s most versatile afloat assets, Kittiwake provides support to over 50,000 square miles around the waters of the Hawaiian Islands conducting law enforcement patrols, search and rescue missions as well as aiding in living marine resources and marine protected species missions.

Hawaiian Stilt Returns Home

A little endangered Hawaiian Stilt chick is all grown up and ready to be on its own after a seven week stay at the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center (HWC).
The Stilt at 2 weeks

The Stilt at 2 weeks

The chick was rescued on O‘ahu and after an unsuccessful attempt to reunite the chick with its parents, it was decided that the young bird would need to be sent to HWC to be raised until it was old enough to be on its own. The successful rescue and release was a team effort by USDA Wildlife Services, Wheels for Wildlife volunteers, Feather and Fur Animal Hospital, the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center.
The Stilt at 5 Weeks

The Stilt at 5 Weeks

While at HWC, the chick was monitored using a remote camera system and staff took great care to prevent the stilt from becoming accustomed to humans. In addition to minimizing physical contact, HWC staff used a mirror and photos of stilt habitat and Hawaiian Stilt adults in the incubator and aviary to provide some enrichment while the bird was in HWC care.
The Stilt at 7 Weeks before its release

The Stilt at 7 Weeks before its release

The bird’s growth was documented through weekly pictures taken from intake until it was transferred to O‘ahu DOFAW staff for release yesterday.
Stilt Growth
This release is the latest in a busy release week for HWC, including a Hawaiian Duck (Koloa Maoli) from O‘ahu, Wedge-tailed Shearwater (‘Ua‘u kani) from O‘ahu, and a White-tailed Tropicbird (Koa‘e kea) from O‘ahu.

USGS Release – Living with Vog on an Active Volcano: New Resources

New informational products about the health hazards of volcanic air pollution known as “vog,” are available through a new interagency partnership.

With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon.  Photo taken 8/16/2016

With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon. Photo credit: Michael Poland, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Photo taken 8/16/2016

The products include a booklet of frequently asked questions, a brochure and poster about protecting yourself during vog episodes and a web-based “dashboard” that provides comprehensive links to a wide range of vog resources, including vog forecasts and air-quality information.

Communities downwind from Kīlauea Volcano’s active vents frequently experience vog as a visible haze or as a sulfurous smell or taste. People exposed to vog report a variety of symptoms, such as eye irritation, coughing, wheezing, sore throats and headaches. The new products were co-developed by U.S. Geological Survey scientists Tamar Elias and Jeff Sutton at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, John Peard and other officials at the Hawaii Department of Health, and Claire Horwell from Durham University in the United Kingdom, with participation by Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense and other agencies.

Peard, with Hawaii DOH said, “The diverse partnership has allowed us to develop new, consistent products that more fully address the needs of the community.”

“The products offer advice on vog protection measures, such as staying indoors, limiting physical activity, and staying hydrated when vog levels are high. Providing relevant, up-to-date information to a population living with decades of an ongoing volcanic eruption may help people to better cope with the frequent vog conditions,” said Horwell.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. credit: Janet Babb, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. credit: Janet Babb, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The new, mobile-friendly vog dashboard is hosted by the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, a clearinghouse for information on the health impacts of volcanic eruptions. All of the new Hawaiʻi vog products are available online, and are accessible through the dashboard.

Vog, the pollution formed from acidic gases and particles released by active volcanoes, is composed primarily of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and its oxidation products, such as sulfate aerosol.  Sulfur dioxide from Kīlauea Volcano, now in its 34th year of nearly continuous eruption, leads to the vog that challenges communities, agriculture, and infrastructure on the Island of Hawai‘i and across the state. Scientists at USGS HVO regularly monitor the quantity and composition of gases released from Kīlauea. Among other things, HVO data are used as input for vog models that forecast the volcanic plume dispersion and vog locations.

Horwell’s previous study in 2015, investigated how Hawaiian communities perceive vog, how they protect themselves, and their preferences for receiving advice. The results from the study support the need for consistent online advice from all federal, state and local agencies; increased access to web- and non-web-based information on vog exposure and protection; and updated guidance on how to access resources about vog. HVO’s long involvement in vog studies, coupled with the community studies about perception and needs, led to the development of the new vog informational products.

For more information about Kīlauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions, please visit HVO’s website, or network with others on the ‘Vog Talk’ Facebook group.

Aerial Video of Kīlauea Volcano’s Summit Lava Lake

This aerial video footage, filmed by USGS in late July 2016, features Kīlauea Volcano’s summit vent within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

lava lake 817

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park’s Jaggar Museum, and the adjacent USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, are perched on the rim of Kīlauea’s summit caldera (foreground of opening footage) just over a mile from the crater, offering spectacular viewing opportunities for Park visitors. Closer to Halemaʻumaʻu, black lava flows on both sides of the summit vent are clearly visible; these flows spilled onto the crater floor when the lava lake overflowed the vent rim in April–May 2015.

At the time this footage was captured, the lava lake level was 22–26 m (72–85 ft) below the vent rim; this morning, it was about 32 m (105 ft) below the vent rim. The summit vent, initially 35 m (115 ft) wide when it first opened in March 2008, has since been enlarged by numerous vent rim collapses and is now about 180 by 250 meters (590 by 820 feet) across.

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Hawaii Climbs to 206 Reported Cases

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is continuing to investigate a cluster of hepatitis A infections in the state.

As of August 17, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 38 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 51 have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Nine (9) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and one visitor has returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
206

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 8/9/16.

On August 15, 2016, HDOH identified raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai as the likely source of the ongoing outbreak. The product of concern is Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen) that originated in the Philippines (states “Product of the Philippines” on the box), distributed by Koha Oriental Foods. As a result, HDOH ordered this product embargoed (not to be sold, purchased, or consumed) throughout the state, and the temporary closure of all Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai.

scallops

The scallops received by True World Foods have not been distributed to any restaurants in the state, and were embargoed at their warehouse. The scallops served at Genki locations on the Big Island and Maui originated from a different supplier and have not been associated with the outbreak.

The outbreak investigation is ongoing.   It continues to be challenging because of the long incubation period of the disease (15 to 50 days) and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place.

Healthcare providers have been informed and are asked to notify HDOH immediately if they have a patient they suspect may be infected.

HDOH encourages Hawaii residents to consider getting vaccinated for hepatitis A, and advises that they talk to their healthcare provider about hepatitis A if they are interested. Vaccination for hepatitis A is strongly recommended for certain individuals who are especially at risk (see HERE for a CDC list of groups recommended to be vaccinated for hepatitis A).

Hawaii residents are also advised that the demand for the vaccine during the outbreak has led to varied supply levels around the state, so it is recommended that they call ahead to assure the vaccine is available at a particular clinic or pharmacy before going there.

The Hawaii Department of Health is conducting a case control study to determine what food items served at a local restaurant chain might have led to the increase in hepatitis A infections in Hawaii. We are looking for individuals who ate at Genki Sushi after April 23, 2016 and have not been ill with hepatitis A.

Your assistance is extremely important. We are using this survey to obtain contact information for individuals who would be willing to participate in the study.  Selected individuals will be contacted by phone in the next 1-2 weeks and interviewed about particular foods eaten at Genki Sushi restaurant(s). Participation is voluntary and, if selected, should take about 30 minutes.  Your personal information will be kept confidential and will not be shared outside of the investigative team.

Mahalo.

Click here to take the survey

Hazards Associated with the Kamokuna Ocean Entry an Ongoing Concern

People who venture too close to Kīlauea’s Kamokuna ocean entry—by land or by sea—are at risk from multiple hazards associated with lava flowing into the sea.

Hazards

The white plume formed by the interaction of lava and seawater is a corrosive mixture of super-heated steam, hydrochloric acid, and tiny particles of volcanic glass, all of which should be avoided. Lava deltas (new land formed at the ocean entry) can collapse without warning. Should the lava delta shown here collapse, fragments of molten lava and blocks of hot rock would be thrown both inland and seaward, potentially impacting people on the cliff above the ocean entry and in the boat in front of the delta.

The beauty of Kīlauea Volcano’s eastern Kamokuna ocean entry can be enjoyed from a safe distance upwind of where lava flows into the sea.

hazards2The eastern entry site (shown here) has created a lava delta that is now about 5 acres in size; as this delta grows larger, so does the risk of a sudden collapse.

Close-up view (using a zoom lens from a safe distance) of lava streaming into the sea at the eastern Kamokuna ocean entry on Kīlauea.

Close-up view (using a zoom lens from a safe distance) of lava streaming into the sea at the eastern Kamokuna ocean entry on Kīlauea.

During a special media briefing today, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists (left) and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park rangers (right) talked about the hazards associated with Kīlauea Volcano’s active lava flow and ocean entries, the exciting scientific opportunities posed by flow 61G, and how visitors can safely hike to and view the beauty of lava flowing on land and into the sea.

Hazards4

Body Found in Boat Off Honoli’i Beach

A body was found in a boat floating off the waters of Honoli’i this afternoon.

Honolii incidentSituation Found at Scene: Upon arrival, .7 mi offshore of Honolii Beach RBT-2 personnel found reporting party in a 13′ Boston Whaler with body floating approximately 15′ away in the open ocean.

Remarks: Rescue Boat 2 personnel located, extricated, and transported body to Wailoa Boat Ramp.  Body turned over to HPD and is investigating.

Hawaii Department of Health Orders Embargo of Frozen Imported Scallops and Closure of Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai

Based on evidence gathered and analyzed during an extensive investigation spanning almost two months, the Hawaii State Department of Health has determined a strong association between a majority of the cases in the Hepatitis A outbreak first announced by the department on July 1, 2016. Investigation findings implicate frozen imported scallops served raw at Genki Sushi Restaurants as the likely source of Hepatitis A infection.

Genki Sushi“After determining the strong probable link between the majority of cases, the department immediately notified Genki Sushi Restaurants, ordered the embargo of the frozen scallop product, and the closure of all Oahu and Kauai facilities,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The business has complied with all orders, contacted all of their Hawaii restaurants, and is working with the department to ensure the safety of its customers. Our staff is in the field today working with distributors to embargo the product.”

Department of Health has ordered the embargo of all frozen scallop products distributed by Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods in Hawaii. An embargo of products restricts their use, sale or distribution. Because Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai had received, handled and served the product, the establishments were ordered to close immediately. Koha Oriental Foods had supplied the product to Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. The frozen imported scallop product recently began to be distributed also by True World to Genki Sushi restaurants on Maui and Hawaii Island. Although there have been no cases related to these recent shipments, given the uncertainty of the safety of the product, all scallop products sent to these restaurants were embargoed as the department continues its investigation.

“Genki Sushi in Hawaii has a history of good compliance with food safety regulations which includes good employee hygiene,” said Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch Chief. “We will continue to work with Genki Sushi Restaurants to ensure their safe operation after the investigation is completed.”

Product tracing is being conducted to locate all potentially contaminated products. DOH has also been in contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Hawaii office to investigate the product origin. Food products imported from outside the state are regulated by the U.S. FDA.

“We are gratified to uncover this major piece of the investigation,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, “my staff have been persistent and tireless in their search for clues to prevent new cases and put an end to the outbreak. Our investigation continues, as we work to confirm our findings and ensure contaminated product is no longer in circulation and the risk of transmission is eliminated.”

Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai will remain closed until the Department of Health can ensure their safe operation.  All frozen scallop products from distributors Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods are being restricted and will be destroyed to prevent any further illness.

Anyone who consumed products, specifically scallops, prepared or served at Genki Sushi on Oahu or Kauai should consider contacting their healthcare provider about the possibility of receiving a vaccine or immune globulin (IG). A statewide list of vaccination locations is available at www.health.hawaii.gov. Individuals who ate at these restaurants longer than two weeks ago, should monitor their health for 50 days after their exposure and consult their doctor if they develop symptoms of hepatitis. All persons should practice thorough hand washing.

Coast Guard Responds to Vessel Taking on Water Off Maui, Death Off Big Island, Busy Weekend

Coast Guard Station Maui personnel responded to a report of a commercial vessel with 21 people aboard taking on water off Maui Sunday.

A Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew escorts the commercial passenger vessel Maka Koa back to port five miles south of Maalaea, Maui, Aug. 14, 2016. The Coast Guard responded to a report of the 43-foot vessel, with 21 people aboard, taking on water off Maui. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Lester/Released)

A Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew escorts the commercial passenger vessel Maka Koa back to port five miles south of Maalaea, Maui, Aug. 14, 2016. The Coast Guard responded to a report of the 43-foot vessel, with 21 people aboard, taking on water off Maui. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Lester/Released)

A Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew arrived on scene five miles south of Maalaea and verified the crew of the 43-foot Maka Koa had the situation in hand before escorting the vessel back to port.

It was determined the vessel was taking on water around their shaft and has since been removed from the water to receive repairs and inspections before returning to service.

Maka Koa

“The Maka Koa crew was very professional and effective in their casualty response,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Lester, a crewman aboard the Station Maui RB-M. “Upon arrival we confirmed the vessel’s installed bilge pumps were keeping up with the leak and provided a standby until they reached port. We applaud the operators quick action identifying the problem and alerting us to what could have become a more severe case.”

Coast Guard crews responded to eight search and rescue and marine safety cases between Friday and Sunday.

Friday, the Coast Guard responded to a possible hoax call resulting from an email sent by a member of the public seeking employment with the Coast Guard. The individual ultimately apologized for the action. No Coast Guard assets were launched for the case. The public is reminded that hoax calls are against the law and can divert resources from necessary search and rescue or other operations. Those found guilty of committing a hoax call may receive fines or jail time.

Also, Friday the crew of the USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349) conducted an at-sea boarding of the commercial fishing vessel Blue Sky a mile south of Honolulu.

USCGC Galveston Island

USCGC Galveston Island

As a result of extremely hazardous conditions and safety violations the Galveston Island crew terminated the crew’s voyage and escorted the vessel to Pier 38 in Honolulu where they were met by personnel from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu to address all discrepancies are ensure they are rectified prior to the vessel getting underway again.

Coast Guard marine investigators in Maui are responding to the reported death of a diver Friday. The operator of a commercial vessel notified the Coast Guard of the incident involving a middle-aged man who became distressed while conducting a night dive off Big Island. The crew of the vessel recovered the man and contacted emergency medical services who met them at Honokohau Marina. He was transferred to Kona Hospital.

Hawaii is home to 340 small passenger vessels, 139 of which support snorkel and dive operations. Such incidents are reportable marine casualties under the Code of Federal Regulations and after addressing the immediate issue the master is required to notify the Coast Guard.

Saturday crews from Station Maui and the Maui Fire Department responded to a report of an adrift pool toy 200-yards off Kaanapali. The toy was located and recovered. Maui Fire Department resources and a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin crew conducted searches in the area to ensure no one was in distress. The case was closed.

Also, Saturday the crew of the Galveston Island conducted an at-sea boarding of the commercial fishing vessel Jennifer Lynn near Honolulu. The crew’s voyage was terminated and they were escorted back to port as a result of extremely hazardous conditions and safety violations. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel will address all discrepancies and ensure they are rectified prior to the vessel getting underway again.

Sunday crews in Kauai responded to a report of an overdue vessel. It was reported that a 26-yeear-old man had departed Mahaulepa Beach Saturday to fish and failed to return.

Coast Guard Station Kauai, Air Station Barbers Point and the USCGC Kiska (WPB-1336) were launched to respond. Kauai Fire Department personnel also searched. Shortly after launching assets Kauai police located the man ashore and well in Ahukini Park.

Also Sunday, the Coast Guard received notification of a 60-year-old Japanese citizen who experienced symptoms of a heart attack while snorkeling off a commercial vessel on the west side of Oahu. The man was transferred to shore and met by emergency medical personnel who took him to Queen’s Medical Center. Again, such incidents are not uncommon and the operators of commercial vessels report occurrences to the Coast Guard in line with the requirements for inspected commercial vessels. Coast Guard investigators from Sector Honolulu are reviewing the case.

The Coast Guard reminds all mariners to meet and maintain safety requirements and plan ahead for voyages. At the first sign of distress contact the Coast Guard.

New Lava Flow Map Shows Vicinity of Ocean Entries

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field at the coast. The area of the active flow field as of August 2 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as mapped on August 12 is shown in red.

hvo map 81316

The base is a Digital Globe image from January 2016.

Commentary – Former Prosecutor Damerville on Qualifications of Candidate Kagami (Sh*t Just Hit the Fan)

Rick Damerville

TO: Mike Kagami, Candidate for Hawaii County Prosecutor:

  1. You criticize Mr. (Mitch) Roth for what you imply are lenient plea deals. Yet in State v Joseph Amormino, it was you who plead the case down from attempted murder in the first degree and multiple other felony charges to assault in the first degree, two counts of terroistic threatening in the first degree, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Defendant was a drunk with a gun who shot his ex-girlfriend 4 times and shot into the bathroom where the woman’s ex-husband was hiding in an effort to save his own life. Before trial, Mitch approved the plea offer to save the victim from the embarassment of having to testify at trial. But Amormino rejected the offer, the case went to trial and the victim had to testify. At that point there was no longer any reason for the pre trial offer. Yet you offered the same plea offer in the middle of trial without permission from Mitch. Every prosecutor knows that plea offers made before trial are no longer available once trial starts unless you get approval from the Chief Prosecutor or First Deputy. You left the office a short time later.

At the July 25, 2016 Malama O Puna Prosecutor Candidates forum in Pahoa (which was taped), you argued that the Amormino case was not truly an attempted murder case because the defendant shot his victim 4 times at close range – implying that if he intended to kill her, he would have killed her. Really, is this how you will analyze cases to “keep the community safe” ?

At the same forum, you said that according to National Prosecution Standards, you have to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt before charging a criminal case. You are wrong. National Prosecution Standards 4-2.2 states: “A prosecutor should file charges that he or she believes adequately encompass the accused’s criminal activity and which he or she believes can be substantiated by admissible evidence at trial.”

The related ABA Standard 3.43(a) states:

“A prosecutor should seek or file criminal charges only if the prosecutor reasonably believes that the charges are supported by probable cause, that the admissible evidence will be sufficient to support conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the decision to charge is in the interest of justice.”

These two standards are adequate and the standards of the profession. Your self-imposed higher standard will result in drawers full of cases that should be prosecuted but are not. Is this how you will protect the community ? Prosecutors know that the search for justice does not stop when the police turn over their reports. Investigations continue after charging, during trial, and sometimes after trial.

  1. Not all high profile cases are “tough cases.” In fact, many are easy cases because of the evidence. let’s look at some of your tough cases:
  • You take credit for the conviction in the Malaki McBride case. That case was reversed and is pending retrial because you failed to protect the record 3 times: (a) you failed to ensure that the jury instructions were correctly read to the jury, (b) you failed to ask that the written instructions be made a part of the record, and (c) you failed to ask for permission to supplement the record on appeal. I urge the public to read what is in the public record, particularly footnotes 8, 9, and 10 of the appellate opinion. There are no exceptions to the rule that everyone who does trial work makes mistakes. But when you screw up, own up.
  • Marwan Jackson case: The victim was brutally beaten to death. The Defendant was left to argue “accident.” More than one deputy prosecutor would have loved to have taken this to trial. But you were supervisor. So you got to pick this case for yourself.
  • Lito Mateo case: You were not lead counsel. Defendant shot his wife’s lover 18 times before numerous witnesses in a hotel parking lot at shift change in the afternoon. A tough case for the defense.
  • Richard Damien Serrano case: You were not lead counsel. The deputy, with now more than 30 years of trial experience, and who you now infer was too lenient for pleading down the Nakashima case, was lead counsel.
  • Van Kahumoku case: Really ? A tough case for the defense certainly. Police arrived on the scene. Defendant has a gun to his head and tells the police, “I think I wen kill the wrong guy. I think I wen kill an innocent guy.”
  • Alison Matsuda case: You listed this case in your ad as attempted murder. The jury came back assault in the first degree. Defendant poured acetone on a sleeping victim and tossed a lit match, engulfing the victim in flames. Defendant admitted to the police what he did. Another tough case for the defense.
  • Ryron Pia case: Defendant tried to rape a sleeping woman. When she awoke he stabbed her 2 times in the neck. When her boyfriend heard her screams and ran to help, he was stabbed. The Defendant admitted stabbing the victims.
  • Peter Bailey case: You take credit for this case even though it was reversed on appeal and had to be retried by other deputies years later.
  • Gary Vaughan case: You were not lead counsel.
  • Pierre Apisaloma case: Child sexual assault case. Good job on this one.

Summary: You listed 10 cases in your ad, 7 of which were easy on the facts and 2 of those were reversed on appeal and were either tried again by someone else or likely will be retried by someone else. Only 3 were truly “tough cases” and you were not lead counsel on 2 of them. If the above trial experience over a 22 year career is your selling point on why you should be the new prosecutor, most objective examiners of the record will reject your candidacy.

Why so few “tough cases”? Well maybe in the last 15 years there has been an acute shortage of “tough cases” or maybe the truly tough cases sat in your cold case files waiting for a better prosecutor, including homicide cases, like Jaylin Kema, Peter Kema, Patricia Wong, Alexander Gambsky, Daniel Dejarnette, and Xavier Cortez

As to the case results that you are so quick to criticize:

  • This year, victim Barton Bumatay was robbed, shot to death, and decapitated. Some alleged eyewitnesses with lengthy criminal histories came forward with statements. A defendant was arrested and charged. When all of the alleged witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, the case was dismissed without prejudice. The Prosecuting Attorney will sort it out and charges will be brought against the responsible parties.
  • Xavier Cortez case: This is one of your cold cases. When you got the case in 2011, you had two eyewitnesses and a favorable autopsy of the child victim. By the time your successor deputies got the case almost 3 years later, one eyewitness was gone. After the filing of the indictment, the remaining witness refused to cooperate and the autopsy opinion was weakened because it relied in part on the statements of now unavailable witnesses. Mr. Cortez was allowed to plead to assault in the first degree and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Could a better result have been achieved had you charged the case in 2011? Probably. Unjustifiable delay has consequences. the victim and her family will see some justice rather than no justice at all. The plea agreement was appropriate.
  • Atkinson Nakashima, David Lester Bars, Paul Michael Gibson, and George Curnutt were all defendants initially charged with attempted murder, and all were allowed to plead to other felonies, mostly felony assaults and/or felony terroistic threatening. All were sent to prison. All of those plea agreements were made based on the recommendations of experienced deputies, some with more trial experience than you.
  • Finally, we come to the Alexander Gambsky case. This was a 2008 case that sat in your cold case files for years. You finally assigned it out to me for a second opinion. I concurred with your assessment that the case was not ready for trial but for a very different legal reason. I informed Mr. Roth that I was somewhat confident that because the defendant was known to be a drinker and a player, eventually he would give us a piece of testimonial evidence that we needed. I did not find that evidence. Other deputies in the office did. When there was no helpful forensic evidence establishing exactly how Dawn Gambsky was killed, allowing Alexander Gambsky to plead to manslaughter and the resulting 20 year prison term was appropriate.

Why this letter? I have been practicing criminal law for more than 34 years. I have been a defense attorney and have successfully defended individuals charged with everything from shoplifting through and including capital murder (State of Fla. versus Michael Gainey) before juries. As a deputy prosecutor and a deputy attorney general, I have successfully prosecuted charges ranging from misdemeanor assaults to tax evasion to murder. I have won my share and have lost some along the way. If you prosecute the cases that need to be prosecuted, that happens.

Everyone in this business, but not the public, knows that the number of jury trials or how long it has been since your last one, has virtually nothing to do with how well you will do as the chief prosecuting attorney.

The job of Prosecuting Attorney is to manage an office of 112 employees and a budget in the millions of dollars, oversee the prosecution of cases, try to find solutions for social problems, advocate for change, answer the complaints of the public when an employee is not measuring up to the standards expected of him or her, help to develop crime prevention solutions that work, and get the office, the police department and the community to work as a team – making sure that every victim is heard and treated fairly and every defendant is afforded his or her constitutional rights by an office whose employees maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.

I’m sorry Mr. Kagami, but Mitch is right. We can’t just end the lives of our juvenile offenders with the first mistake of their lives. We can’t just throw everyone in jail and throw away the key. We can and must be smarter about the business of prosecution. Our community and the safety and prosperity of our citizens depend on it.

The race for prosecutor will be decided in the primary election on August 13, 2016. Please vote and re-elect Mitch Roth Hawaii County Prosecutor.

Ricky R. Damerville

California Man Identified in Wailuku River Drowning on the Big Island

A 41-year-old California man apparently drowned Wednesday (August 10) while swimming in the Wailuku River.

Waialae Falls
He has been identified as Alejandro Barrios Sr. of Orange, California.

In response to a 3:45 p.m. call reporting a drowning, South Hilo Patrol officers learned that Barrios has been swimming near the third waterfall of an area in the river accessible from the 2000 block of Waianuenue Avenue when he appeared to be in distress. His family attempted to assist him to shore but were unsuccessful and called 911.

Fire/rescue personnel located his lifeless body and extricated the man to shore with the use of a helicopter. Barrios was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he was officially pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m.
Wainaku DrowningPolice have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. The case is classified as a coroner’s inquest.

Man Drowns in Wailuku River Spot Known as “Narnia”

Hawaii Fire Department Incident Report 14527:
Wainaku DrowningType of Incident: Drowning

Situation Found at Scene: Upon arrival in the Upper Wailuku River area, locally known as “Narnia”, we found three (3) people on the river bank. They stated that a family member jumped into the water and had difficulty swimming. They jumped in to save him, but were unsuccessful with holding onto him.

Remarks: A Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) team member cleared fallen trees using a chainsaw, allowing easier access to the river for HFD and Hawaii Police Department personnel.

With Chopper 1 providing aerial support, two (2) Fire Rescue Specialists conducted a free dive search and found the victim in approximately thirty (30) feet of water on the river bottom.