• what-to-do-media
  • puako-general-store
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • 10% Off WikiFresh

  • Say When

    September 2018
    S M T W T F S
    « May    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  

Group Loads Over 11 Tons of Marine Debris in Single Day

On the morning of Sunday, March 4, 2018, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (HWF) and volunteers don gloves and began hauling derelict fishing nets and ropes and other plastic marine debris collected from the shores of Ka‘ū. With a volunteer heavy equipment operator (JD Services LLC), the team loaded the 11.6 tons of marine debris into a 40-foot Matson shipping container, making this effort the single largest container load. Recently, HWF has had to increase efforts to keep up with the barrage of marine debris washing up along the Ka‘ū shoreline as this year has already seen record amounts.

Photos Courtesy Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund

“We have our work cut out for us as these large derelict fishing net bundles continue to wash up along our shores,” said HWF Program Director Megan Lamson. “Net and rope bundles present special entanglement hazards for our native wildlife, including protected species like the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and humpack whale. HWF and volunteers removed 66,235 lbs. of marine debris from Hawai‘i Island in 2017 (plus another 10,060 lbs. on Maui), of which 43% by weight were derelict fishing nets.”

Since 2005, HWF and volunteers have loaded over 106,000 lbs. of plastic marine debris into containers bound for O‘ahu in the Hawai‘i Nets-To-Energy program. Once on O‘ahu, the nets will be transported to Schnitzer Steel Industries, where they will be chopped into pieces suitable for combustion at the City and County of Honolulu’s H-Power energy waste facility run by Covanta Energy (transport and other services are donated free of charge). The combustion process drives steam-powered turbines to produce electricity. The Nets-To-Energy Program, organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is a multi-organizational marine debris partnership between local nonprofit community groups and private businesses.

HWF is a small nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1996 to conserve native wildlife. During its 22-year existence, HWF and volunteers have removed a total of 260 tons of marine debris from the shores of Hawai‘i Island (86% by weight), Maui, Midway and the French Frigate Shoals. In 2017 alone, HWF and volunteers have removed 60,838 lbs. of marine debris from Hawai‘i Island & Maui. The majority of HWF’s marine debris removal work is conducted by volunteer labor, with financial support from the federal government (grants from the NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and Kona Brewers Festival), local businesses (Matson Navigation’s Ka Ipu ‘Āina, Kona Surf Film Festival), and private donations from around the world.

If you would like more information on the project or how to get involved with HWF, please contact them at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or call (808) 769-7629 or check the HWF website.

Researchers Create First Map Showing Impact on Hawai‘i Reefs

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa announces that the first comprehensive map documenting the relative impact of human activities and natural events in slowing reef recovery after extreme coral bleaching caused by rising water temperatures in Hawai‘i, has been produced by an interdisciplinary group of researchers with University of Hawai‘i ties.

Composite showing healthy coral, left, and degraded croal; photo by Keoki Stender, Marine Life Photo

The study, a large, multi-institution collaboration between Stanford University, UH, Stockholm Resilience Center, NOAA, and others, synthesized 10 years of datasets from university and government sources across many factors for the first time to get a big-picture perspective on reef health and regional impacts. It provides a foundation for further research and informs policies to protect coral reefs.

The researchers from the collaborative Ocean Tipping Points project reviewed the data to gauge how a broad suite of factors, such as sedimentation, development and fishing, influence coral reef health across the main Hawaiian Islands.

The study appears in PLOS One and reveals variations in what was inhibiting reef recovery across the islands. On the densely populated island of O‘ahu, for example, the dominant stressors were human activities, such as fishing and loss of natural habitat to coastal development. Sedimentation and nutrient runoff were dominant forces on less populated islands.

“When we jumped into the water in West Hawai‘i, over half of the coral reef was dead,” said the paper’s lead author, Lisa Wedding, a research associate at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions and graduate of UH Mānoa’s geography PhD program. “These are some of Hawaiʻi’s most vibrant coral reefs, so we were heartbroken—and determined to better understand how reef ecosystems could be more resilient in the future.”

“This area of research has been a long-term need for coral reef conservation and management,” said co-author Joey Lecky, a NOAA GIS analyst who analyzed human drivers of change in the main Hawaiian Islands as part of his graduate work at UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “These findings will allow us to take a big step forward in understanding how corals are impacted by both human activities and environmental stressors, in a place with incredible value.”

The research team’s findings highlight the importance of tailoring strategies based on location to effectively address local impacts. “These layers are being actively used in the ongoing state effort to meet Gov. David Ige’s 30×30 goal—protecting 30% of the nearshore by 2030—announced at the World Conservation Conference here in 2016,” noted Kirsten Oleson, Lecky’s advisor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management and a contributing author.

Data created by this mapping study are available for free at the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS), where scientists, managers and members of the public can explore and further analyze what drives variation on coral reefs. Users can download data layers in various formats and explore all layers in an interactive map viewer.

“We live in a changing world, and changing oceans are a big part of that,” said Ocean Tipping Points lead investigator Carrie Kappel of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. “Studies like this one provide crucial insights into how we can act locally to improve the resilience of reefs to global changes. This is an approach that can be replicated for reefs elsewhere.”

Read the paper here.

Paper co-authors include Oleson lab member Kim Falinski, a marine science advisor to The Nature Conservancy in Honolulu; Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology affiliate Kimberly Selkoe; and former biology faculty member Alan Friedlander. Other UH PhD graduates contributing to the study include Jamison Gove (oceanography), Mary Donovan and Kaylyn McCoy (zoology) and Jack Kittinger (geography).

Participating scientists represent Stanford, UH, NOAA, the University of California Santa Barbara, Bangor University, National Geographic Society, Conservation International, Arizona State University, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Curtin University and California Polytechnic State University. The research was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Humpback Whale Placenta Found

The Pacific Whale Foundation’s reports that their raft the Ocean Journey, on its first whale watch of the day, came across the rarest of finds, a placenta in the water, presumed to be from a humpback whale.

A presumed humpback whale placenta. Photo courtesy of the Pacific Whale Foundation.

Further details of the time, location and circumstances surrounding the discovery are still being determined.

It is generally accepted that humpback whales migrate to Hawai‘i’s waters to breed and calve their young, however an actual birth has not yet been documented. A humpback whale placenta would perhaps be the next best evidence of the birthing process taking place.

Scientists infer that the placenta is easily dislodged after the calf is born, and then simply floats away.

UPDATE: Flood Warning Extended for Big Island

UPDATE: 7:23 p.m.

Special Weather Statement:

The National Weather Service in Honolulu states that a strong thunderstorm will affect Hawai‘i.

At 7:20 p.m., a strong thunderstorm was located over Kukuihaele, moving northeast at five to 10 mph.

Winds in excess of 40 mph are possible with this storm.

Locations impacted include Kapa‘au, Honoka‘a, Pa‘auilo, Waipi‘o Valley, Kukuihaele, Hawi, Kamuela, Poloūu Valley, ‘O‘ōkala, Kohala Ranch, Hala‘ula, Waimanu Valley, Kawaihae and Māhukona.

Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with this storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. Seek a safe shelter inside a building or vehicle.

UPDATE: 7:15 p.m.

The National Weather Services is extending the Flash Flood Warning for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 10 p.m.

At 7:06 p.m., radar indicated heavy rain along the windward slopes of the Kohala Mountains. The most intense rainfall was from Waipi‘o Valley to Honoka‘a with rates of around 4 inches per hour.

Heavy rainfall may continue along the Hāmākua Coast for several hours.

Locations in the warning include but are not limited to Pololū Valley, Waipi‘o Valley, Kukuihaele, Kohala Ranch, Hawi, Hala‘ula, Kamuela, Kapa‘au, Waimanu Valley and Honoka‘a.

A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring in streams, roads, and low lying areas. Move to higher ground now.

Do not cross fast flowing water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This warning may need to be extended beyond 10 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

This flash flood warning replaces the previously issued flood advisory that was in effect for portions of the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County.

UPDATE: 6:00 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 6:30 p.m.

At 5:57 p.m., a severe thunderstorm was located nine miles south of Pu‘uanahulu, moving northeast at 30 mph.

Radar indicated gusts up to 60 mph. Expect damage to roofs, siding and trees.

Locations impacted include Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua, Honalo, Pōhakuloa Camp, Pu‘uanahulu,
Kalaoa, Hōnaunau, Pōhakuloa Training Area, Kainaliu, Hōlualoa, Kahalu‘u-Keauhou and Captain Cook.

For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. Stay away from windows.

Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to flash flooding. Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways.

Due to the Severe Thunderstorm Warning, the following advisories are issued:

  • High winds are expected; take necessary precautions.
  • Be aware of lightning; the best place to be is indoors.
  • Expect possible interruptions in your utility services.
  • Be on the alert for malfunctioning traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for The island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 6 p.m.

At 5:01 p.m., severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from 24 miles northwest of Kona International Airport to nine miles northwest of Miloli‘i, moving northeast at 25 mph.

Radar indicated 60 mph wind gusts and residents can expect damage to roofs, siding and trees.

Locations impacted include: Kailua-Kona, Captain Cook, Pu‘uanahulu, Hōnaunau, Kawaihae, Kahalu‘u-Keauhou, Kainaliu, Waikoloa Village, Kealakekua, Honalo, Kohala Ranch and Kalaoa.

UPDATE: 2:32 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Advisory for the Island of Hawai‘i through this evening.

Heaviest rains were currently over the Saddle area and Hāmākua Districts.

Heavy showers and lightning are forecast through Monday.

Take necessary precautions when in these conditions.

UPDATE: 1:51 p.m.

A Flood Advisory for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County is in effect until 4:45 p.m.

At 1:46 p.m., radar indicated heavy rain continuing over the Big Island.

The heaviest rain is now falling over the Saddle area and the Hāmākua District, with rainfall rates up to three inches per hour.

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Hilo, Na‘alehu, Pa‘auilo, Waipio Valley, Orchidland Estates, Kukuihaele, Hawi, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Kamuela, Honoka‘a and O‘okala.

Stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low lying areas prone to flooding.

Rainfall and runoff will also cause hazardous driving conditions due to ponding, reduced visibility and poor braking action.

Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on
foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This advisory may need to be extended beyond 4:45 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

This advisory replaces the previously issued advisory that was in effect for portions of Hawai‘i County.

A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect.

ORIGINAL POST

The National Weather Service announces a Flood Advisory for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 3:30 p.m.

At 12:23 p.m., radar indicated heavy showers and thunderstorms moving over the Big Island from the southeast, affecting portions of the Ka‘ū, Puna and South Hilo districts. Rain was falling at a rate of two to three inches per hour.

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Hilo, Hawaiian Acres, Na‘alehu, Orchidlands Estates, Glenwood, Hakalau, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, Pahala and Wood Valley.

Stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low-lying areas prone to flooding.

Rainfall and runoff will also cause hazardous driving conditions due to ponding, reduced visibility and poor braking action.

Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This advisory may need to be extended beyond 3:30 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

A Flash Flood Watch is also in effect.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Replaces Plastic Straws with Sustainable Alternatives

Hilton Waikoloa Village last straw initiative. Courtesy photo.

Hilton Waikoloa Village has initiated “the last straw”—a new commitment to discontinue the use of plastic drinking straws resort-wide in its restaurants, bars, venues and vendors.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village Last Straw Campaign comes as an effort to care for Hawai‘i’s ocean environment by eliminating the impact of plastic straws, one of the top 10 marine debris most commonly found in Hawai‘i.

The resort is the first on the Island of Hawai‘i to implement an initiative of this kind which has substantial environmental benefits. In 2017, the Hilton Waikoloa Village used more than 800,000 plastic straws while serving more than 1 million guests. Plastic straws cannot be recycled and can have devastating effects on marine and coastal life like fish, turtles and seabirds if ingested. The resort will now offer FDA-approved, GMO and BPA-free compostable paper straws upon request.

Hilton Waikoloa Village last straw initiative. Courtesy photo.

“Over the years, concerned guests have notified us of the impact that plastic straws have on our environment,” said Simon Amos, hotel manager. “We are thrilled to be able to respond and officially say that Jan. 31, 2018, was ‘the last straw.’ Hilton Waikoloa Village is uniquely gifted with a location that affords guests a front row seat to Hawai‘i’s spectacular marine life. We’re glad to take this step to be better stewards of this beautiful place.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, the resort held an informal celebration to mark this move toward greater sustainability with its partner, Dolphin Quest. The Hilton Waikoloa Village Last Straw Campaign is a proactive step to contribute to larger movements like Strawless Ocean Initiative by Lonely Whale Foundation, One Less Straw by One More Generation and The Last Plastic Straw, all of which challenge individuals and companies to commit to a sustainable alternative to single use plastic straws.

Hilton Waikoloa Village last straw initiative. Courtesy photo.

Furthermore, a Senate bill is currently being considered by Hawai‘i lawmakers that would prohibit the distribution, sale and provision of plastic straws in the state. The team behind the resort’s last straw campaign hopes its efforts will encourage support for the bill and continue the movement toward greater sustainability.

 

Federal and State Agencies Tracking Large Marine Debris Field Between Oahu and Molokai

State and Federal agencies are tracking what is described as a very large marine debris field or net mass last spotted in the Ka Iwi Channel between Moloka‘i and O‘ahu, about 12 nautical miles south of O‘ahu. The marine debris was first reported by a fisherman last Saturday, who saw it 9.5 miles south of Koko Crater and 3.5 miles from penguin banks. The fisher described it as being two nautical miles long and containing massive amounts of nets, ropes, buoys, crates and drums.

The initial sighting has been confirmed by several other sources, including the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Cutter Oliver Berry which passed through the debris field last night. The possible path or trajectory of the mass is being tracked by Dr. Nikolai Maximenko and his team at the International Pacific Research Center at the School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Maximenko told agency representatives during a conference call this morning, “As the currents in Hawaii are complex and dynamic we don’t have a good understanding of their effect on debris of this scale. We are working with the Coast Guard to add a tracker to the debris to gather more data to aid our modeling.” At the moment, the field appears to be on a northeastern trajectory away from land, although it is possible some of it has made landfall on the western shore of Moloka‘i. DLNR staff will be conducting a shoreline survey to locate and address any debris found there.

In addition to the UH researchers and the USCG, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and National Marine Fisheries Service, the DLNR Chair’s Office and Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) are partnering to address this marine debris field. DLNR, through its contacts has alerted recreational fishers and commercial shipping representatives to report sightings and gather data on this collection of marine debris. LCDR John Titchen is leading the Coast Guard’s efforts to assist in this matter. He said, “We have issued a broadcast notice to mariners (identifying hazards to navigation) that may be passing through the area and we encourage due caution. These types of fields can create entanglement and fouling hazards.” He added, “Based on our initial observations this appears to be more of a weed line than a debris field, containing a 40-60-foot wooden pole with marine growth, plastic bags, weeds, and other assorted debris; nonetheless boaters need to be aware of it and avoid it.”

A decision on whether to try to capture the debris depends entirely on its movement over the next few days. If it does make landfall DLNR and its partners will work to remove it. If it remains in the ocean and appears to be coming close to land it would likely take a large vessel with heavy-lift crane capability to capture it. Since there seems to be a concentration of marine life in and around the debris, the partners involved in managing this issue will have to weigh the impact on marine life before conducting any harvesting or removal effort. Mark Manuel, the Pacific Islands Marine Debris Regional Coordinator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service, noted, “We often see similar debris accumulation along shearlines when conditions are just right. Most often the accumulations disperse on their own. This does remind us to not contribute to the global problem of marine debris by recycling and disposing of rubbish in the proper manner.”

In recent weeks, crews from DOBOR and the DLNR Land Division have cleaned up tons of derelict fishing nets and other debris on beaches across the state. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Their work has been supported by volunteers and many of the non-profit organizations who focus on keeping beaches clean and litter-free. Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s not going to go away easily or soon. We continue to encourage people who see marine debris, whether it be in open water or on the beach, to report it to NOAA and DLNR marine debris hotlines and websites, (listed below).”

Marine debris not only creates potential navigational hazards for ocean vessels – it can cause significant damage to coral reefs and sometimes contains aquatic invasive species that when they reach shallow waters, can colonize an area and spread very rapidly.

EPA Requires Closures of 19 Illegal Cesspools in Hawai‘i in 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement actions this year in Hawai‘i resulted in closures of 19 large capacity cesspools (LCC) and over $500,000 in fines, seven of the cesspools were on the County of Hawai‘i.

EPA regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act required closure of all existing LCCs by April 5, 2005. The ban does not apply to individual cesspools connected to single-family homes.
“We will continue working to close all remaining large cesspools,” said EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Alexis Strauss. “This enforcement effort will help protect Hawai‘i’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”

Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. Groundwater provides 99% of all domestic water in Hawai‘i, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state. Since EPA banned LCCs in 2005, over 3,400 large-capacity cesspools have been closed state-wide, many through voluntary compliance.

EPA actions to close prohibited LCCs this past year include:

  • The County of Hawai‘i agreed to close seven large capacity cesspools that serve the Pahala and Na‘alehu communities. The agreement requires the closure of two LCCs serving the Pahala community, three LCCs serving the Na‘alehu community, and two LCCs serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments. Combined, the seven cesspools serve about 280 households. The County will replace the cesspools with wastewater treatment systems approved by the Hawai‘i Department of Health.
  • Aloha Petroleum, Ltd. paid a penalty of $57,500 for operation of an LCC at its Aloha Island Mart convenience store and gas station in Captain Cook on the Big Island. EPA found that Aloha Island Mart had operated the illegal LCC until 2014. Aloha Petroleum has since closed the non-compliant cesspool and replaced it with an approved wastewater system.
  • U‘ilani Associates owns and operates the U‘ilani Plaza, a multi-unit commercial building in Kamuela. The company paid a $6,000 fine and replaced the cesspool with a Hawai‘i Department of Health approved wastewater system.
  • Maui Varieties Investments, Inc., which owns two Big Island hardware stores and a commercial property, is closing four LCCs at its properties in Na‘alehu, Kamuela and Hilo and paid a $134,000 penalty.
  • Matheson Tri-Gas facility, a commercial gas supply company in Campbell Industrial Park, Kapolei, O‘ahu closed two LCCs and converted to a septic system. The company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $88,374 and to spend an estimated $50,000 on a supplemental environmental project to close an on-site small-capacity cesspool. Matheson completed its work and converted to a septic system at the end of 2017.
  • Fileminders of Hawai‘i, LLC, which operated a prohibited cesspool in Kapolei, and Hawai‘i MMGD, the company’s owner, were assessed a civil penalty of $122,000. In June, the cesspool was closed and the company installed an individual wastewater system.
  • The U.S. Navy paid a civil penalty of $94,200 and closed nine LCCs at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Navy had closed six cesspools in 2012, but had failed to close the remaining three in a timely manner. The three remaining cesspools served an estimated 160 people at three separate facilities. The Navy has since closed the non-compliant cesspools.

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, click here.

Over $1M Released to Fight Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death

Kapapala Forest Reserve PC: UH Hilo, Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Lab

Gov. David Ige announced on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2017, that he has released $1.264 million to fight Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD), a fungal disease attacking and killing the most abundant native tree in Hawaiʻi.

“The ‘ōhiʻa tree is the foundation of Hawaiʻi’s native forest, and it is critical to the health of our watersheds and ecosystems,” said Gov. Ige. “Scientists are working hard to stop its spread, but many trees have already died on Hawaiʻi Island. This funding is focused on a Hawaiʻi Island-based response.”

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DNLR) is using the funds for survey, research, and outreach activities and will be hiring staff through the University of Hawaiʻi.

Specifically, funds will be used to:

  • Contract with the Carnegie Airborne Observatory to conduct additional aerial surveys on both Hawaiʻi and Maui islands using cutting-edge spectroscopy and LiDAR technologies. Surveys will be flown this month and complement earlier surveys from 2016 and 2017.
  • Hire a full-time laboratory technician with an advanced degree in plant pathology to increase capacity for diagnostics and ROD research and continue preliminary genetic resistance work.
  • Hire a full-time data management specialist to manage project data that is being stored in a DLNR hosted geo-spatial database accessible to all project partners. This database includes data from aerial surveys (both DLNR helicopter surveys and Carnegie data), ground surveys and laboratory results.
    Increase public outreach on Hawaiʻi island including producing and airing radio and television public service announcements and sponsoring community events.
  • Contract forest pathology expert with experience in Ceratocystis diseases to conduct research and advise DLNR about their management.
  • Support existing project staff of survey technicians (four), research post-docs (two) and to continue ongoing ROD research that otherwise would run out of funding before the end of FY18.
  • Contract helicopter service for quarterly surveys and transporting crews to sites for survey and management.
  • Purchase supplies and equipment such as chainsaws for on-the-ground team.

North Kona Water Restriction Update

As of yesterday afternoon, Keōpū Deepwell installation is complete.

The Department has begun the disinfection and water quality testing process, which once successfully completed, will render the Keōpū Deepwell fully operational and ready for use. The Department anticipates this will happen by Monday, December 25, 2017.

At this time, the 25 percent (25%) Water Restriction remains in effect; however, the Department expects to downgrade to a voluntary 10 percent (10%) conservation once the Keōpū Deepwell is operating reliably.

Kona water tank levels remain stable and the Department continues to monitor the water system and make adjustments as necessary.

The Department sincerely appreciates the community’s efforts to reduce their water usage.

For more information visit our website at www.hawaiidws.org, call 961-8060 during normal business hours or email dws@hawaiidws.org. For after hour emergencies, call us at 961-8790.

Maunakea Astronomers Shed Light on Formation of Black Holes and Galaxies

Stars forming in galaxies appear to be influenced by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, but the mechanism of how that happens has not been clear to astronomers until now.

Image of the quasar host galaxy from the UC San Diego research team’s data. The distance to this quasar galaxy is ~9.3 billion light years. The four-color image shows findings from use of the Keck Observatory and ALMA. As seen from Keck Observatory, the green colors highlight the energetic gas across the galaxy that is being illuminated by the quasar. The blue color represents powerful winds blowing throughout the galaxy. The red-orange colors represent the cold molecular gas in the system as seen from ALMA. The supermassive black hole sits at the center of the bright red-orange circular area slightly below the middle of the image. Credit: A. VAYNER AND TEAM

“Supermassive black holes are captivating,” says lead author Shelley Wright, a University of California San Diego Professor of Physics. “Understanding why and how galaxies are affected by their supermassive black holes is an outstanding puzzle in their formation.”

In a study published today in The Astrophysical Journal, Wright, graduate student Andrey Vayner, and their colleagues examined the energetics surrounding the powerful winds generated by the bright, vigorous supermassive black hole (known as a “quasar”) at the center of the 3C 298 host galaxy, located approximately 9.3 billion light years away.

“We study supermassive black holes in the very early universe when they are actively growing by accreting massive amounts of gaseous material,” says Wright. “While black holes themselves do not emit light, the gaseous material they chew on is heated to extreme temperatures, making them the most luminous objects in the universe.”

The UC San Diego team’s research revealed that the winds blow out through the entire galaxy and impact the growth of stars.

“This is remarkable that the supermassive black hole is able to impact stars forming at such large distances,” says Wright.

Today, neighboring galaxies show that the galaxy mass is tightly correlated with the supermassive black hole mass. Wright’s and Vayner’s research indicates that 3C 298 does not fall within this normal scaling relationship between nearby galaxies and the supermassive black holes that lurk at their center. But, in the early universe, their study shows that the 3C 298 galaxy is 100 times less massive than it should be given its behemoth supermassive black hole mass.

This implies that the supermassive black hole mass is established well before the galaxy, and potentially the energetics from the quasar are capable of controlling the growth of the galaxy.

To conduct the study, the UC San Diego researchers utilized multiple state-of-the-art astronomical facilities. The first of these was Keck Observatory’s instrument OSIRIS (OH-Suppressing Infrared Imaging Spectrograph) and its advanced adaptive optics (AO) system. An AO system allows ground-based telescopes to achieve higher quality images by correcting for the blurring caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. The resulting images are as good as those obtained from space.

The second major facility was the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, known as “ALMA,” an international observatory in Chile that is able to detect millimeter wavelengths using up to 66 antennae to achieve high-resolution images of the gas surrounding the quasar.

“The most enjoyable part of researching this galaxy has been putting together all the data from different wavelengths and techniques,” said Vayner. “Each new dataset that we obtained on this galaxy answered one question and helped us put some of the pieces of the puzzle together. However, at the same time, it created new questions about the nature of galaxy and supermassive black hole formation.”

Wright agreed, saying that the data sets were “tremendously gorgeous” from both Keck Observatory and ALMA, offering a wealth of new information about the universe.

These findings are the first results from a larger survey of distant quasars and their energetics’ impact on star formation and galaxy growth. Vayner and the team will continue developing results on more distant quasars using the new facilities and capabilities from Keck Observatory and ALMA.

ABOUT OSIRIS

The OH-Suppressing Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (OSIRIS) is one of W. M. Keck Observatory’s “integral field spectrographs.” The instrument works behind the adaptive optics system, and uses an array of lenslets to sample a small rectangular patch of the sky at resolutions approaching the diffraction limit of the 10-meter Keck Telescope. OSIRIS records an infrared spectrum at each point within the patch in a single exposure, greatly enhancing its efficiency and precision when observing small objects such as distant galaxies. It is used to characterize the dynamics and composition of early stages of galaxy formation.

ABOUT W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY

The W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes are among the most scientifically productive on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes on the summit of Maunakea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrometers, and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems.

Some of the data presented herein were obtained at Keck Observatory, which is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation.

The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.

Article Summary

Latest findings using the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii increase scientific understanding of how powerful winds generated by supermassive black holes impact and regulate the growth of 3C 298 Quasar Host Galaxy.

DOH Identifies 14 Priority Areas for Cesspool Upgrades to Protect Drinking Water

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has filed a report with the Legislature identifying 14 priority areas of the state where cesspool upgrades are critically needed to protect public health and the environment. The report indicates about 43,000 cesspools – half of Hawai‘i’s total 88,000 cesspools – are located in the 14 priority areas in all counties and need urgent action.

Click to read report

“The report findings are troubling and show wastewater from cesspools is beginning to impact drinking water in some parts of upcountry Maui,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The water in these areas is still safe to drink, with no evidence of bacterial contamination; however, there are early warning signs that tell us we must act now to protect the future of our drinking water and the environment.”

Hawai‘i has about 88,000 cesspools, far more than any other state. Cesspools provide no treatment and inject about 53 million gallons of raw sewage into Hawai‘i’s groundwater every day, potentially spreading disease and harming the quality of drinking water supplies and recreational waters. Hawai‘i gets over 90 percent of its drinking water from groundwater.

“In areas, such as Kahulu‘u on Oahu and Kapoho and Puako on Hawai‘i Island, cesspools harm recreational waters and precious coral reefs,” said Keith Kawaoka, DOH deputy director of the Environmental Health Administration. “All cesspools pose a serious threat to our natural environment, and the 14 priority areas are our greatest concern as we are seeing the start of potential impacts to Hawai‘i’s shoreline and drinking water resources.”

The DOH report was ordered by the Legislature earlier this year in Act 125 of 2017. The 14 priority areas with maps of cesspool locations are: Upcountry Maui; Kahalu‘u, Diamond Head, Waimanalo, Waialua and Ewa on O‘ahu; Kapoho, Kea‘au, Puako, Hilo Bay and Kailua/Kona coastal areas on Hawai‘i Island; and Kapa‘a/Wailua, Poipu/Koloa, and Hanalei Bay on Kauai.

In 2016, Governor Ige signed Wastewater System rules that banned all new cesspools statewide. Prior to the ban, there were approximately 800 new cesspools per year. The rules also provided tax credits under Act 120. The Act provides a temporary income tax credit for the cost of upgrading or converting a qualified cesspool to a septic tank system or an aerobic treatment system, or connecting to a sewer system. A taxpayer may apply for a tax credit of up to $10,000 for cesspools upgraded to a sewer or septic system during the next five years. The program is limited to a total of $5 million or about 500 cesspool upgrades per year. Under the law, owners of cesspools located within 500 feet of the ocean, streams or marsh areas, or near drinking water sources can qualify for the tax credit. To date, about 50 taxpayers have used the program.

“The state began taking action last year, and today’s report clearly highlights the need for greater measures to tackle this impending threat to our drinking and recreational waters,” said Kawaoka. “With 88,000 systems currently affecting our environment, it will take a concerted effort by our entire community to convert existing systems to safer alternatives.”

The cost to upgrade all of the state’s roughly 88,000 cesspools is estimated at $1.75 billion. State law currently requires the elimination of cesspools in Hawai‘i by year 2050. DOH presented its report on cesspools and prioritization for replacement to legislators and will begin community meetings in impacted areas of the state in January 2018, beginning with Makawao on Jan. 9 and Kahulu‘u on Jan. 12. For more information on cesspools in Hawai‘i and the Tax Credit Program for Qualifying Cesspools go to http://health.hawaii.gov/wastewater/.

EPA, State of Hawaii Receive Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Tank Upgrade Study

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) are reviewing the draft Tank Upgrade Study for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as part of a 2015 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with the Navy. The Navy study provides in-depth conceptual design information for six upgrade options, but does not recommend one option. EPA, DOH and the Navy will use the study, along with community input and other work produced under the agreement, to select the final upgrade option.

Click to view

“This report provides EPA and DOH with information for us to evaluate as the Navy progresses in upgrading the Red Hill tanks,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Work is proceeding under our enforceable agreement with the U.S. Navy as EPA and DOH oversee long-term solutions for the Red Hill facility to protect public health and Hawaii’s aquifers.”

A public information workshop will be held in spring 2018 to explain the report and allow EPA, DOH and the Navy to respond to questions and concerns from the community. After the workshop, the Navy will propose a tank upgrade option. EPA and DOH will hold a second public meeting about the Navy’s proposed upgrade decision before approving or disapproving the Navy’s proposal.

The Red Hill Tank Upgrade Study considered more than 30 different approaches to physical improvements to the tanks. Six of the 30 were ultimately selected for in-depth study and evaluated for 20 factors ranging from construction challenges and cost to inspection and maintenance requirements. Three improvement options use a single-walled tank system and three are double-walled systems.

“The Red Hill tank upgrade is an important issue to Hawaii residents, and the AOC outlines a process of careful analysis and decision-making that will result in the most appropriate final outcomes at the facility,” said Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director, Hawaii Department of Health. “The Navy has met an important milestone in delivering this assessment of potential tank upgrade options.”

The Tank Upgrade Study and the Navy’s decision process for proposing a tank upgrade option are available for public review and comment at https://www.epa.gov/red-hill/tank-upgrade-alternatives-red-hill.  Any questions, comments or concerns related to the Red Hill Facility can be directed to DOH and EPA by sending an e-mail to red-hill@epa.gov or contacting agency representatives identified on our Red Hill websites.

In January 2014, while refilling Tank 5, the Navy identified a loss of jet fuel from the tank and reported it to DOH, estimating that about 27,000 gallons was released. The Navy drained the tank and collected samples from existing water monitoring wells. Results of samples taken around Tank 5 indicated a spike in levels of hydrocarbons. The Navy increased the frequency of monitoring at a nearby Navy drinking water well, and current monitoring results for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system confirmed they were in compliance with federal and state drinking water standards both before and after the January release.

Red Hill, constructed in the 1940s, is a unique facility in the United States, consisting of 20 underground bulk fuel storage tanks built into a mountain hillside. Each tank is 250 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter, constructed of steel and encased in a minimum of 2.5 to 4 feet of concrete surrounded by basalt bedrock. Each tank has a fuel storage capacity of 12.5 to 12.7 million gallons, giving the facility a maximum capacity of approximately 250 million gallons. Eighteen tanks are currently active, and two are not in use.

For more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/red-hill and http://health.hawaii.gov/RedHill.

Pesticide Testing to Expand to Maui and Hawai‘i Island

The House Committee on Health & Human Services, chaired by Rep. John M. Mizuno, and the Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Rep. Richard P. Creagan, held an informational briefing today to update the status and progress of the Kauai Pesticide Joint Fact Finding (JFF) Study Group’s recommendations released last year.

The report, completed in May 2016, provided an analysis of environmental and health issues associated with pesticide use on Kauai, and today’s briefing was to hear how the various state and county departments had followed up on the group’s recommendations. Lawmakers also want to make sure continued environmental and human health impacts related to pesticides are addressed with fact-based policy and decision making.

Rep. Mizuno (Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Lower Kalihi) said pesticide use will continue to be an important issue for Hawaii and will be discussed during the next legislative session.

“I want to acknowledge the state departments of Health, Agriculture, and Education along with the County of Kauai, and the Kauai Department of Water for working together on the pesticide issue and taking positive steps to protect residents,” said Mizuno. “This is a critical health and environmental issue that we need to have consensus and solution building to stay in front of.”

At the briefing, department representatives reported that steps taken since May, 2016 include:

  • The hiring of three new agriculture inspectors that has reduced the number of open pesticide investigation cases from 780 to less than 10.
  • Funding to hire an epidemiologist by the Department of Health.
  • Training of departments and first responders to coordinate rapid response to pesticide exposure incidents.
  • Training of the local medical community to record birth defect data.
  • Testing more than 50 surface water areas for pesticides on Oahu and Kauai and planning to expand testing to Maui and Hawaii Island.

Scott Enright, Chair of the Board of Agriculture told the Representatives that the Department of Agriculture has also developed a packet of rules that update Hawaii’s pesticide laws and regulations.

Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa) said lawmakers see these as positive steps and want to make sure the departments have the resources they need to continue their efforts.

“This has been good information to direct us moving forward on this issue,” Belatti said.

Rep. Dee Morikawa, (Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea) said Kauai County has developed a pesticide policy and she suggested all four counties work together to develop a statewide policy on pesticide use, testing, enforcement and treatment.

“Let’s have a plan that allows proper pesticide use, protects our residents and notifies communities if there is any possible contamination,” Morikawa said.

Rep. Creagan (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona) said he is concerned about the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides.

“I am concerned with the possibility of birth defects, particularly nerodevelopmental injuries to the fetus from long-term, low level pesticide exposure, especially related to chlorpyrifos,” said Creagan.

Pacific Paradise Finally Removed From Waikiki Reef

The grounded Pacific Paradise was successfully removed from the reef off Kaimana Beach Thursday.

Following removal from the beach, crews prepare the Pacific Paradise further about a mile offshore from Oahu, Dec. 7, 2017. A combination of salvage and response experts worked over a 58-day period to repair, refloat and remove the vessel from the beach. The cause of the original grounding remains under investigation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Todd Duke/Released)

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will assume the lead as the coordinating agency to work with the owner of the Pacific Paradise to conduct cleanup of the wreck site as the pollution threat has been removed. The state will assess any damage done to the reef and facilitate the next step in mitigating the impacts and rehabilitating the reef.

“This response has been long and challenging, but the professionalism and expertise of the crews that came together was nothing short of impressive”, said Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port and commander U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. We appreciate the patience and support of the public, the diligence and persistence of our partners and are grateful the Pacific Paradise was safely removed.”

Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed her sincere appreciation to everyone involved for their patience, persistence and care in getting the Pacific Paradise removed from the reef successfully and safely. Case said, “These efforts are complex, and with the addition of unpredictable ocean conditions, the position, size and weight of the ship on the reef, and its proximity to one of Hawaii’s most populated beach areas, it was important that we all worked together to remove the ship while minimizing risk to people and to the environment. DLNR is conducting a full assessment of the reef and any associated natural resource damage that occurred during the event.”

Response crews refloated the Pacific Paradise Wednesday and moved the vessel about 600 feet into the sandy channel before losing the tide. Crews conducted additional work to the vessel late in the day to prepare for the refloat and tow Thursday. That effort was ultimately successful in fully removing the vessel at 7:15 a.m. on the high tide using the tug Pi’ilani.

Just over a mile offshore the tow was switched over to the tug American Contender for the transit out to the EPA-approved disposal site 13 miles south of Oahu in federal waters. The responders are now in the process of sinking the Pacific Paradise in nearly 1,800 feet of water, which may take several hours.

During the operation to refloat and remove the grounded vessel minimal pollution entered the water.
The vessel originally grounded just before midnight Oct. 10. In the time since, local and mainland experts have worked diligently to remove the vessel as quickly and safely as possible with the least amount of impact to the marine environment. Responders spent the past weeks preparing and patching the hull, removing excess weight by pumping water and removing heavy spare parts including sheet metal and the rudder and adding additional buoyancy. The challenging environment and weather did slow or delay some work.

The Coast Guard is continuing the investigation into the cause of the grounding. That process will likely take several months. Once complete those findings will be released to the public and action will be taken to levee any fines or punitive actions that may be deemed appropriate.

Hawai‘i Volcano Watch: Did Aerial Bombing Stop the 1935 Mauna Loa Lava Flow?

Aerial view of a bomb detonating on Mauna Loa near the 8,500-foot elevation source of the 1935 lava flow on the morning of Dec. 27, 1935. This was one of twenty 600-pound bombs dropped on the lava flow that morning by the Army Bombing Squadron from Luke Field, O‘ahu. Photo by Army Air Corps, 11th Photo Section.

A widely-held belief is that Thomas Jaggar, founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, was able to stop a Mauna Loa lava flow in 1935. But is it true?

The eruption in question began on Nov. 21, 1935. Six days later, an unusual breakout at an elevation of 8,500 feet on the north flank of Mauna Loa sent ʻaʻā lava to the north. Pāhoehoe lava ponded at the base of Mauna Kea for two weeks before advancing toward Hilo at a rate of about one mile per day.

On Dec. 23, fearing that the flow would reach the headwaters of the Wailuku River, which supplied water for the town of Hilo, Jaggar called on the Army Air Service, based on Oʻahu, to bomb the lava flow source. His hope was that the lava tubes or channels could be destroyed, thereby robbing the advancing flow while feeding another flow that would re-cover the same area. The flow was bombed on Dec. 27, and lava stopped flowing during the night or early morning of Jan. 2, 1936.

Jaggar publicly praised the Army for its responsiveness and technical accuracy in delivering the bombs to his selected targets. In turn, Jaggar was praised for his successful experiment and for saving Hilo.

What is not widely known is that a USGS geologist, Harold Stearns, was on board the last plane to deliver bombs to Jaggar’s targeted areas. Stearns had been mapping the geology and water resources of Maui volcanoes. But when he heard about the plan to bomb the lava flow on Mauna Loa, he traveled to Hilo to see if he could fly with the Army.

Stearns got his chance. At 12:40 p.m. on Dec. 27, his plane dropped two 600-pound bombs (each with 300 pounds of TNT), but they landed a few hundred feet from their target. Jaggar himself watched the bombing through a telescope from the base of Mauna Kea.

Assessing Jaggar’s bombing goals, Stearns said, “The tube walls look 25 to 50 feet high and deep in the flow so that I think there would be no change of breaking the walls. The lava liquid is low. The damming possibility looks effective but the target is too small.”

Following up with a letter to Jaggar in January 1936, Stearns questioned the effectiveness of the bombing.

Jaggar wrote back that later examination of the flow’s source showed that “This channel was broken up by the bombing and fresh streams poured over the side of the heap…. I have no question that this robbing of the source tunnel slowed down the movement of the front…. The average actual motion of the extreme front.… for the five days after the bombing was approximately 1,000 feet per day. For the seven days preceding the bombing the rate was one mile per day.”

Jaggar then asked the rhetorical question, “How long would the flow have lasted without bombing it?” He used the 1919-1920 Kīlauea eruption, which sent lava into the Kaʻū Desert to form Mauna Iki, as an analog. “If we had bombed Mauna Iki in February 1920, the pāhoehoe tunnel system would never have reached the lower Kaʻū desert….”

Stearns remained unconvinced. In his 1983 autobiography, he wrote about bombing the Mauna Loa flow: “I am sure it was a coincidence….”

Jaggar’s boss at the time, Hawai‘i National Park Superintendent E.G. Wingate, was also skeptical.

The day after the bombing, Wingate wrote to the Army commanders, “Though we are as yet unable to determine what effect the airplane bombardment achieved.… I feel very doubtful that it will succeed in diverting the flow. Therefore, I am.… reconnoitering the flow region and will try to locate a feasible spot on the ground where a land expedition might successfully attack the flow channel by dynamiting or other methods.”

In Wingate’s December 1935 report, he summarized the effort: “Just what part the bombardment had in stopping the lava flow the superintendent is not qualified to say. Certainly the facts are most interesting and Dr. Jaggar believes the experiment to have played a definite part.”

Modern thinking mostly supports Stearns’ conclusion. Whether or not the bombing stopped the 1935 Mauna Loa lava flow remains a controversial topic today.

Volcano Watch is a weekly article written by U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and colleagues.

 

UH Researchers Discover New Fish – The Marianna Snailfish

The ocean’s deepest fish doesn’t look like it could survive in harsh conditions thousands of feet below the surface. Instead of giant teeth and a menacing frame, the fishes that roam the deepest parts of the ocean are small, translucent, bereft of scales — and highly adept at living where few other organisms can.

A specimen of the new species, Mariana snailfish. Credit: Mackenzie Gerringer, UW and UH.

Meet the deepest fish in the ocean, a new species named the Mariana snailfish by an international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), that discovered it. The Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) thrives at depths of up to about 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) along the Mariana Trench near Guam. The team published a paper describing the new species this week in the journal Zootaxa.

“This is the deepest fish that’s been collected from the ocean floor, and we’re very excited to have an official name,” said lead author Mackenzie Gerringer, graduate student at SOEST at the time of this work and current postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. “They don’t look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful.”

Snailfish are found at many different depths in marine waters around the world. In deep water, they cluster together in groups and feed on tiny crustaceans and shrimp using suction from their mouths to gulp prey. Very little is known about how these fish can live under intense water pressure; the pressure at those depths is similar to an elephant standing on your thumb.

This new species appears to dominate parts of the Mariana Trench, the deepest stretch of ocean in the world that is located in the western Pacific Ocean. During research trips in 2014 and 2017 aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor, scientists collected 37 specimens of the new species from depths of about 6,900 meters (22,600 feet) to 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) along the trench. DNA analysis and 3-D scanning to analyze skeletal and tissue structures helped researchers determine they had found a new species.

Since then, a research team from Japan has recorded footage of the fish swimming at depths of 8,178 meters (26,830 feet), the deepest sighting so far.

“Snailfishes have adapted to go deeper than other fish and can live in the deep trenches. Here they are free of predators, and the funnel shape of the trench means there’s much more food,” said co-author Thomas Linley of Newcastle University. “There are lots of invertebrate prey and the snailfish are the top predator. They are active and look very well-fed.”

A handful of researchers have explored the Mariana Trench, but very few comprehensive surveys of the trench and its inhabitants have been completed because of its depth and location, Gerringer explained. These research trips involved dropping traps with cameras down to the bottom of the trench. It can take four hours for a trap to sink to the bottom.

After waiting an additional 12 to 24 hours, the researchers sent an acoustic signal to the trap, which then released weights and rose to the surface with the help of flotation. That allowed scientists to catch fish specimens and take video footage of life at the bottom of the ocean.

“There are a lot of surprises waiting,” Gerringer said. “It’s amazing to see what lives there. We think of it as a harsh environment because it’s extreme for us, but there’s a whole group of organisms that are very happy down there.”

The Mariana snailfish’s location was its most distinguishing characteristic, but researchers also saw a number of differences in physiology and body structure that made it clear they had found a new species. With the help of a CT scanner at the UW’s Friday Harbor Labs, the researchers could look in close digital detail to study elements of the fish.

The authors, including SOEST oceanography faculty Jeffrey Drazen and Erica Goetze, acknowledge the broad collaboration needed for deep-sea science, particularly in this discovery, and decided the new fish’s scientific name should reflect that collaborative effort. The fish is named after a sailor, Herbert Swire, an officer on the HMS Challenger expedition in the late 1800s that first discovered the Mariana Trench, and in recognition of the critical role of crew members on board research vessels.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Schmidt Ocean Institute and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland.

Rainbow Falls Claims Two Lives

The Hawaiʻi Fire Department has confirmed that two people lost their lives on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, near Rainbow Falls.

The Hawaii Fire Department continued their search for a male body on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2017. Big Island Now photo

Four people went swimming above Rainbow Falls and two of them got swept away. One female victim was rescued at the base of Rainbow Falls and a search continues for the male victim.

The fire chief who was on hand on Sunday, Nov. 26, at Rainbow Falls, believes that they were tourists from the mainland.

Saturday, The Hawai‘i Fire Department arrived 12:40 p.m., and within the first 10 to 15 minutes, witnesses reported that a man and a woman were having difficulty swimming in a pond above of Rainbow Falls. The two were seen going under and not seen again.

The female was found unconscious in the water below Rainbow Falls yesterday.

Today, an aerial, ground and dive search continued in the pond and areas upstream of Rainbow Falls for the missing male but no body has been found.

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.