Public Access to Pepeekeo Point Shortline Ending Soon

For several years, a temporary arrangement between Hilo Project, LLC and the County of Hawaii has allowed people to safely walk to the Pepeekeo Point Shoreline using the landowners’ property.

The owners have tried, without success, to work out boundary and setback issues through three successive County planning directors and their staffs.  Strong local support has existed for years for the County to permanently receive the safe access route offered by the owners.  The project and temporary access were determined to be safe from erosion on this old sugar mill industrial site.  Nevertheless, the County has taken years too long without securing the safe access for the community.  Landowners regret that they must now modify their project and people will not be able to safely walk to the shoreline anymore.

Effective July 10, 2017, the temporary access used to reach the ocean will be permanently closed.  The owners intend to post a sign showing the location of the existing legal access, but caution that the legal access may be difficult to use and does not reach the walkable shoreline.

Reptile Skin Grown in Lab for First Time, Helps Study Endangered Turtle Disease

Scientists, including Tina Weatherby with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), published a study wherein they reconstructed the skin of endangered green turtles, marking the first time that skin of a non-mammal was successfully engineered in a laboratory. In turn, the scientists were able to grow a tumor-associated virus to better understand certain tumor diseases.

Green sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered. Credit: Thierry Work, USGS.

In an international collaboration led by the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists engineered turtle skin in order to grow a virus called chelonid herpesvirus 5 or ChHV5. ChHV5 is associated with fibropapillomatosis, known as FP, a tumor disease affecting green turtles worldwide but particularly those in Hawai‘i, Florida and Brazil. FP in turtles causes disfiguring tumors on the skin, eyes and mouth as well as internal tumors. The virus also harms turtles’ immune systems, leading to secondary infections, emaciation and often death.

Examining how ChHV5 grows in turtle skin brings researchers closer to fighting viral diseases that threaten imperiled species.

“Fibropapillomatosis is the most common infectious disease affecting endangered green turtles,” said Thierry Work, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the study. “Our findings provide a significant advancement in studying FP, and may eventually help scientists better understand other herpes virus-induced tumor diseases, including those of humans.”

Scientists used cells from tumors and normal skin from turtles to reconstruct the complex three-dimensional structure of turtle skin, allowing growth of ChHV5 in the lab. In order to observe virus replication in unprecedented detail, Weatherby, a research associate at the UHM SOEST Pacific Biosciences Research Center, precisely cut ultrathin slices of the skin to a thickness of about 60 to 80 nanometers or about one thousandths of the thickness of a hair. Viewing these slices through a transmission electron microscope, the only one of its kind in the state used for biological studies, revealed bizarre systems such as sun-shaped virus replication centers where the viruses form within cells.

Although the existence of ChHV5 has been known for more than 20 years, the inability to grow the virus in the laboratory hampered understanding of how it causes tumors and the development of blood tests to detect the virus.

“Examining viruses within the complex three-dimensional structure of engineered skin is exciting, because virus replication in such a system is likely much closer to reality than traditional laboratory techniques,” Work said. “This method could be a powerful tool for answering broader questions about virus-induced tumors in reptiles and herpes virus replication in general.”

The U.S Endangered Species Act and International Union for the Conservation of Nature list sea turtles as threatened or endangered throughout their range. Aside from disease, threats to green turtles include loss of nesting habitat, nest destruction and bycatch in commercial fisheries.

The USGS partnered with the University of Hawai‘i, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Zurich on the new study.

For more information about wildlife disease research, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center website.

University of Hawai‘i Receives Human Research Protection Accreditation

The University of Hawai‘i (UH) is now recognized as a top research institution that follows rigorous standards for ethics, quality and protections while conducting human research — and becomes the first research organization in the state to be awarded this highly regarded status.

On June 14, 2017, UH was informed that it was awarded full accreditation by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP). In addition to assuring the public that the rights and welfare of individuals who participate in research are protected, the accreditation demonstrates to potential collaborators and sponsors in the competitive global research arena that UH has built extensive safeguards into every level of research operations.

“The AAHRPP accreditation reaffirms the University of Hawai‘i’s commitment to strengthen protections for participants involved in our research and will serve as a catalyst to further increase our community involvement and engagement efforts in this area,” said UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos. “I would also like to acknowledge the Human Studies Program team and all members of the three UH Institutional Review Boards for their key role in preparing us for this important accreditation.”

Along with UH, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Central Michigan University received recent accreditation from AAHRPP.  More than 60 percent of U.S. research-intensive universities and 65 percent of U.S. medical schools are either AAHRPP accredited or have begun the accreditation process.


A non-profit organization, AAHRPP provides accreditation for organizations that conduct or review human research and can demonstrate that their protections exceed the safeguards required by the U.S. government. To learn more, visit

About UH Research

Research conducted by the University of Hawai‘i (UH) impacts the quality of life in the islands and around the world. As the state’s major research university, and because of Hawai‘i’s tremendous geographic diversity, UH plays a prominent role in the state’s economic growth and development through its diverse and world-renowned research programs in astronomy, earth and ocean sciences, medicine and tropical agriculture.

‘Broncos’ Hold Mile High Training Exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area

Maneuver elements of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, found invaluable support from mortar, artillery and helicopter gunships during a fire support coordination exercise (FCX), here, June 24-26.

A Soldier assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, scans his sector with an M240B machine as part of a maneuver element during a fires coordination exercise (FCX) lane at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on June 25, 2017. The battalions of 3rd BCT went through a series of realistic combat lanes during the three daylong FCX. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The maneuvers were held on the big island of Hawaii at the more than mile high plateau between Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Hualalai volcanic mountains.

The purpose of the FCX is to provide realistic training, which includes maximum flexibility during the company-level maneuvers.

Second Lt. Victor Perez, a native of Snyder, Okla., and a fire support officer assigned to 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, said the FCX “allows us to practice with our maneuver element and also be able to de-conflict measures such as coordination and indirect fires.”

Perez said the training with close air support assets such as the AH-64 Apache helicopter provides excellent planning to de-conflict the use of air and indirect fire assets.

“We get down here to really train and focus on for when the next war that happens,” he said. “It’s not exactly being overseas, but allows us to get really good training out here.”

Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, act as a maneuver element during a fires coordination exercise (FCX) lane at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on June 25, 2017. The battalions of 3rd BCT went through a series of realistic combat lanes during the three daylong FCX. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Capt. Trent Sutterfield, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., and commander of Blackfoot Troop, 3-4th Cav. Regt., said it was a great experience for his troops on PTA.

“It’s a chance to not only work with your platoon leaders, which you work with quite a bit, but that external audience such as your FSO, your fire support coordination piece with the artillery and mortars,” Sutterfield said.

He stated the ranges were doable on the island of Oahu, but they’re a great many constraints for training on the highly population island.

“This allows us to build again not just shoot our maneuver elements or normal direct fire systems such as the M2 machine gun and Mark 19 grenade launcher, but also emphasis our fires capabilities and air platforms,” he said. “We have the land and the ability without constricting training of other units on Schofield.”

Spc. William Holt, indirect fire infantrymen, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, applies camouflage face paint prior to the start of a fires coordination exercise (FCX) lane at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on June 25, 2017. The Soldiers provided indirect fire support during near pitch-black conditions to maneuver elements during the FCX. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The company-level leadership involved their FSOs during their operational planning.

“We involved them in our planning process, and directly through our fire support officer and fire support NCO,” he said. “They develop the fires plan as we conduct the maneuvers piece, and build that on top in support of us.”

Spc. Matthew Blankenship, a native of Sparta, N.C., and a fire support specialist assigned to 3-4th Cav. Regt., worked directly with the maneuver elements on the simulated battlefield.

Blankenship stated the tight constraints on the ranges on Oahu make it difficult for the M777 150 mm howitzer to fire with full affect during training.

“There’s a lot of wide open places so we can use some of our larger caliber weapon systems,” he said. “You can’t really fire that well Schofield because there isn’t enough range to. So when we come to PTA, we get to actually use the larger caliber weapons in the way it was designed to be used.”

With his second rotation at PTA, Blankenship’s views on the PTA ranges were highly positive.

“I never imagined Hawaii being like this,” he said. “It’s sort of a desert climate, and it’s really different. It’s a really good place to train.”

Firehose Activity Briefly Returns at the Kamokuna Ocean Entry

On Sunday, June 25 between 11:39 and 11:44 HST, firehose activity started at the ocean entry and continued for less than 10 minutes. A USGS time-lapse camera, which takes a photo every 5 minutes, captured this image at 11:44 and by 11:49 the firehose was replaced by a lava channel on the delta.

The cause of the short-lived firehose activity was not visible from the time-lapse camera, but was likely the result of a failure of the 61g tube casing where it exits the old sea cliff.

This photo from June 25 shows the established lava channel at 6:49 pm HST, hours after the firehose activity.

On June 26 HVO observers did not see any active surface breakouts on the delta and the channel has tubed over, but some narrow streams of lava were spilling into the ocean. The delta had lost some small chunks, but there was no evidence seen of a large-scale delta collapse.

Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus Youth Football Clinic

Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus is having it’s First Annual Youth Football Clinic in July: