Coast Guard Rescues Three After Boat Runs Out of Fuel Near Kailua-Kona

Three adults are safe after being rescued from a recreational vessel that ran out of fuel 21 miles northwest of Kailua-Kona Sunday morning.

Three adults are safe after they were rescued from their vessel that ran out of fuel 21 miles northwest of Kailua-Kona June 9, 2013. Several Coast Guard crews responded, took the vessel in tow and returned them safely to Kawaihae harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Three adults are safe after they were rescued from their vessel that ran out of fuel 21 miles northwest of Kailua-Kona June 9, 2013. Several Coast Guard crews responded, took the vessel in tow and returned them safely to Kawaihae harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received a call from a friend of the vessel’s crew, notifying Coast Guard watchstanders that the 21-foot pleasure craft was running out of fuel.

A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew from Station Maui, a HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point and the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska were launched to the scene.

The aircrew arrived on scene at 5:15 p.m., and dropped provisions, flares and a radio in a watertight container and was able to establish communications with the vessel’s captain.

At 7:10 p.m., the response boat crew took the vessel in tow and returned them safely to Kawaihae harbor.

The Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters to remain aware of their vessel’s fuel capacity and other limitations while operating offshore of the Hawaiian Islands. Filing float plans, installing a VHF marine band radio and frequently checking safety equipment like flares and life jackets can greatly increase your survival in an emergency or help avoid an emergency altogether.

For more information on boating safety visit


University of Hawaii Researchers Discover Martian Clay Contains Chemical Implicated in the Origin of Life

Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite. When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life.

The work was published on June 6 in PLOS ONE.

The Antarctic Search for Meteorites team found the Martian meteorite used in this study in Antarctica during its 2009-2010 field season. The minerals it contains, as well as its chemical composition, clearly show that it is of Martian origin.

Electron microscope image showing the 700-million-year-old Martian clay veins containing boron (100 µm = one tenth of a millimeter). (Credit: Image courtesy of Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Electron microscope image showing the 700-million-year-old Martian clay veins containing boron (100 µm = one tenth of a millimeter). (Credit: Image courtesy of Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Using the ion microprobe in the W. M. Keck Cosmochemistry Laboratory at UH, the team was able to analyze veins of Martian clay in the meteorite. After ruling out contamination from Earth, they determined boron abundances in these clays are over ten times higher than in any previously measured meteorite.

“Borates may have been important for the origin of life on Earth because they can stabilize ribose, a crucial component of RNA. In early life RNA is thought to have been the informational precursor to DNA,” said James Stephenson, a UHNAI postdoctoral fellow.

RNA may have been the first molecule to store information and pass it on to the next generation, a mechanism crucial for evolution. Although life has now evolved a sophisticated mechanism to synthesize RNA, the first RNA molecules must have been made without such help. One of the most difficult steps in making RNA nonbiologically is the formation of the RNA sugar component, ribose. Previous laboratory tests have shown that without borate the chemicals available on the early Earth fail to build ribose. However, in the presence of borate, ribose is spontaneously produced and stabilized.

This work was born from the uniquely interdisciplinary environment of UHNAI. The lead authors on the paper, Stephenson, an evolutionary biologist, and Lydia Hallis, a cosmochemist who is also a UHNAI postdoctoral fellow, first came up with the idea over an after-work beer. “Given that boron has been implicated in the emergence of life, I had assumed that it was well characterized in meteorites,” said Stephenson. “Discussing this with Dr. Hallis, I found out that it was barely studied. I was shocked and excited. She then informed me that both the samples and the specialized machinery needed to analyze them were available at UH.”

On our planet, borate-enriched salt, sediment and clay deposits are relatively common, but such deposits had never previously been found on an extraterrestrial body. This new research suggests that when life was getting started on Earth, borate could also have been concentrated in deposits on Mars.

The significance goes beyond an interest in the red planet, as Hallis explains: “Earth and Mars used to have much more in common than they do today. Over time, Mars has lost a lot of its atmosphere and surface water, but ancient meteorites preserve delicate clays from wetter periods in Mars’ history. The Martian clay we studied is thought to be up to 700 million years old. The recycling of the Earth’s crust via plate tectonics has left no evidence of clays this old on our planet; hence Martian clays could provide essential information regarding environmental conditions on the early Earth.”

The presence of ancient borate-enriched clays on Mars implies that these clays may also have been present on the early Earth. Borate-enriched clays such as the ones studied here may have represented chemical havens in which one of life’s key molecular building blocks could form.

UHNAI is a research center that links the biological, chemical, geological, and astronomical sciences to better understand the origin, history, distribution, and role of water as it relates to life in the universe.


Hawaii Health Insurance Marketplace on Track for October Launch


The State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Health Connector today received the next stage of approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to launch Hawaii’s new online health insurance marketplace on Oct. 1, 2013.  The Connector had received conditional federal approval in January following the submission of its marketplace operating plans.

“This is an important step in our progress to transform healthcare in Hawaii,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “Every resident deserves a good, equitable system of healthcare, and this new online marketplace requires insurers to offer better benefits and reward quality.”

When launched, the online marketplace will serve as a convenient, one-stop resource for eligible individuals, families and small businesses to browse and purchase health insurance. The Connector will be the only place where individuals and small businesses can qualify for tax credits, subsidies and cost sharing reductions, per the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is implementing a state-of-the-art eligibility system, integrated with The Connector, which includes an online application. DHS will determine eligibility for Medicaid and federal subsidies to purchase health insurance through this new online marketplace.

“DHS has fully seized the opportunity to use available federal funding to modernize its IT systems to better serve Hawaii residents,” said DHS director Patricia McManaman. “An estimated 300,000 Medicaid beneficiaries will be the first to benefit from this service.”

“Today’s announcement signals that we have made significant progress toward the delivery of a state-based insurance marketplace to our community by October 1,” said Coral Andrews, executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector. “Achieving this milestone is a reflection of tremendous collaboration by stakeholders engaged at all levels. It is another step toward enabling access to affordable health insurance coverage statewide.”

The Connector, DHS, the Governor’s Office, the Office of Information Management and Technology, and other state departments have been working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services and the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight to ensure Hawaii is ready for open enrollment through its online marketplace. Plans purchased through the Connector from Oct. 1, 2013 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

For more information about the ACA and Hawaii’s implementation, visit the DHS website at: and the Hawaii Health Connector website at


North Hawai‘i Community Hospital Calling Candidates for Best Friends Pet Therapy Program

Have you wondered if your dog would make a good Pet Therapy dog? North Hawaii Community Hospital’s (NHCH) Best Friends Pet Therapy program is looking for handler/dog teams to volunteer for a few hours once a week.

Pet Therapy

Dogs in the hospital’s Best Friends program make rounds in the hospital, visiting with patients, people in waiting rooms, and staff. They bring smiles and brighten the day for patients. Many patients miss their own dogs while staying in the hospital and begin talking and interacting when the dog enters their room, even if they have been withdrawn before. Pet therapy has been found to have a therapeutic effect on people as it can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure and raise spirits and. The hospital staff also looks forward to visiting with the therapy dogs, as they provide a few moments of unconditional love and a break during their busy day.

The dog/handler team will be initially evaluated by the hospital’s Best Friends Pet Therapy program directors according to the standards of Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) and Therapy Dogs International. A temperament assessment will be conducted as well. If a team is accepted as a possible candidate for the Best Friends program, the handler will begin the volunteer application process. This will include a background check.

All breeds welcome. Dogs must be two years of age to qualify for the program and must be examined by the hospital’s veterinarian prior to being accepted. Characteristics of a therapy dog include:

  • A strong bond with its owner
  • Must be housetrained
  • Well-socialized and outgoing, must like people
  • A calm, stable personality that can handle the unexpected
  • Under handler control at all times, even when distractions occur
  • CANNOT jump up, bite, snap, paw or bark while at work

If you are interested in seeing if you and your dog qualify as a pet therapy team, please contact Jennifer Rabalais at 881-4825.


Erika Stein Selected as Superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Erika Stein has been selected as the new superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the island of Moloka`i in Hawai`i. She replaces Steve Prokop who was recently selected as superintendent of Redwood National and State Parks.

Erika Stein

Erika Stein

“Erika’s educational and professional background makes her the ideal candidate for this position. She is a well-respected leader with a proven track record of working collaboratively with the Kalaupapa community,” said Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “I’m delighted that she has accepted this assignment.”

Stein is currently the acting superintendent at Kalaupapa. She has worked at the park for more than five years, first as an archaeologist, then as the Cultural Resource Program Manager, before accepting her present temporary assignment. During her time at Kalaupapa she has been instrumental in growing the park’s cultural resource program, as well as its interpretation and education program. Among her accomplishments are her work with the Hawaiian Legacy effort to perpetuate traditional knowledge and skills, and her involvement with cultural resource education with local student groups. Stein was also part of the planning team for events celebrating the canonization of Saints Damien and Marianne. She will transition into the superintendent position permanently in late June.

“I’m so grateful to Kalaupapa and its community for all the opportunities, support, and encouragement that have already been afforded to me,” said Stein. “I look forward to guiding this richly diverse park, with all its astounding cultural and natural resources, and will continue to work with the staff and community to preserve this very sacred place.”

Prior to working for the National Park Service Stein was a contract archaeologist in Hawai`i and California. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and a Master’s Degree in Maritime Archaeology from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. As part of her graduate education she participated in a field program in ethnography and marine sciences in the Solomon Islands.

Stein will be getting married on July 5th on the island of Moloka`i. She has a cat that has traveled with her since her graduate school days in Australia, as well as two dogs. She enjoys being active – she’s a regular participant in endurance events, such as running, ocean swimming, and triathlons – and has been a regular hiker of the Kalaupapa Trail for the past six years. She also loves yoga and dancing hula with others in the Kalaupapa community.

The primary story at Kalaupapa is the forced relocation from 1866 to 1969 of people from Hawai`i afflicted with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) to the remote northern Kalaupapa Peninsula on the island of Moloka`i. Today, Kalaupapa serves as a place for education and contemplation, where many families can reconnect with an ancestor once considered “lost”.

Before Kalaupapa became a settlement for individuals with Hansen’s disease it was home to Native Hawaiians who lived within the boundaries of what is now the park for more than 900 years. Structural remnants built and used over centuries are everywhere within the park and illustrate how early Native Hawaiians lived their daily lives.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park was designated as a unit of the National Park System on December 22, 1980. The park’s authorized boundaries encompass 8,725 acres of land and 2,000 acres of water, though only a small part of the park – 23 acres – is owned by the National Park Service. The remainder is owned by various other government and private organizations, which work cooperatively with the National Park Service in managing the landscape. Parts of the park hold designations at both the state and federal level, including status as a state Natural Area Reserve, Forest Reserve, and Hawai`i State Seabird Sanctuary, as well as designation as a National Historic Landmark and National Natural Landmark.