SEawords The Marine Option Program Newsletter
Volume XXXIV, Number 8
Aloha! Welcome to the December issue of Seawords! This month, we will be drifting away from the heat of the tropics and exploring the polar regions of the world. These austere landscapes are home to a wide variety of fascinating creatures, and unfortunately, are proving to be among the first casualties in our rapidly warming world. Climate change has ceased to be a potential future problem, and its catastrophic effects are wreaking havoc everywhere from the Arctic circle (page 18) to the Hawaiian islands (page 8). While doing research for this edition, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories about the cataclysmic implications of climate change and what it is doing to the world. Climate grief is becoming evermore prevalent as bleak headlines about melting ice and increasingly severe natural disasters dominate the news. It is easy to lose hope in the face of what feel like insurmountable odds. However, all is not lost. The number and size of marine protected areas is growing. The Ocean Cleanup project is removing large swaths of plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch and 4Ocean is clearing plastic by the ton, among other efforts. The population of Southwest Atlantic humpback whales has seen a massive uptick (page 6). Here on O‘ahu, researchers at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology are doing incredible work in restoring and developing the resilience of coral reefs (page 22). Additionally, global Fridays for the Future shows the dedication of people around the world to advocating for change. With concerted individual, governmental, and international action, a difference can be made (page 16). What would you like to see more of in Seawords? Send in your thoughts!
Zada Boyce-Quentin, Seawords Editor and Alyssa Mincer, Associate Editor
About the Photography -Cover: Antarctic seal. Photo by: Tak, Flickr. -Table of Contents: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By: Alaska USFWS, Flickr.
Articles 2: LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 4: CRITTER OF THE MONTH: ARCTIC
-Page 21: South Georgia. Photo by: Paul Balfe, Flickr.
-Page 22: Photo by Emily Gootgeld, UHM MOP Student Coordinator.
6: THE SOUTHWEST ATLANTIC
-Page 23: Photo by Emily Gootgeld, UHM MOP Student Coordinator.
HUMPBACK WHALE MAKES A COMEBACK
-Calendar: Ice floes. By: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr.
8: THE BLOB: RETURN OF THE PACIFIC
-Back cover: Arctic sea ice. By: Gary Bembridge, Flickr. -Disclaimer: any photo taken from flickr.com is used under the Creative Commons License and is credited appropriately with links to the user’s Flickr account.
Volume XXXIV, Number 8, December 2019
Editor: Zada Boyce-Quentin Assistant Editor: Alyssa Mincer Dr. Cynthia Hunter (éminence grise) Jeffrey Kuwabara (éminence grise) Seawords- Marine Option Program University of Hawai‘i, College of Natural Sciences 2450 Campus Road, Dean Hall 105A Honolulu, HI 96822-2219 Telephone: (808) 956-8433 Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Website: <http://www.hawaii.edu/mop> Seawords is the monthly newsletter of the Marine Option Program at the University of Hawai‘i. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Marine Option Program or of the University of Hawai‘i. Suggestions and submissions are welcome. Submissions may include articles, photography, art work, or anything that may be of interest to the marine community in Hawai‘i and around the world. All photos are taken by MOP unless otherwise credited.
OCEAN’S HEAT WAVE
12: SHIPWRECK OF THE MONTH: HMS TERROR
13: GLACIAL MELTING REVEALS NEW ISLANDS
14: SHRIMP IN ANTARCTICA 15: HANAUMA TALKS SCHEDULE 16: GENERATION BLUE 18: MARINE MAMMAL OF THE MONTH: POLAR BEAR
20: SOUTH GEORGIA: A
SUBANTARCTIC ISLAND TEEMING WITH LIFE
22: VISITING THE HEART OF MARINE RESEARCH
24: CALENDAR OF EVENTS DECEMBER 2019 |3
Group of arctic terns in the sky. Photo by: Fiona Paton, Flickr.
Critter of t Arctic
By: Amiti Maloy, U
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Size: Weighs from 3 to 4.5 ounces; body lenth of 33 to 36 centimeters; wingspan of 76 to 86 centimeters Diet: Seasonal and location dependent. Known to consume crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, earthworms, and marine worms. Estimated Population: 2 million world-wide Distribution: Cold climate seeking birds with migratory patterns reaching from the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Asia, Europe, and North America to their coastal regions with mild temperatures and migrating to the Antarctic chilled and ice locations as summer temperatures begin their rise. Habitat: At sea majority of the time; generally over cold, offshore waters. Nests on gravel beaches, islands, and coastal tundra as well as far inland in tundra regions near lakes, rivers, swamps and ponds. Life Span (average expected): 15-30 years Top Flight Speed: 25 miles/hour IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern
Arctic tern flying. Photo by: Lindsay Robinson, Flickr. 4|â€ƒSeawords
the Month: c Tern
UHM MOP Student
Arctic tern on log. Photo by: Alex Proimos, Flickr.
The Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) is the ultrarunner of the skies. These small, light little birds travel the the longest migratory routes of any land, water, or air creature. It is common for them to travel up to 44,000 miles annually. The oldest observed Arctic tern was 34 at the time its travel distance was studied and it was released back into the wilds of Maine, meaning that by this point, that exceptional flyer is calculated to have logged over two million miles. Two million miles is nearly four and a half round trips from Earth to the Moon. With all of their travel, these birds appear to always be on the quest not necessarily for warmer weather but for more and more sun. Arctic terns see more sunlight than any other species on the planet. Hummingbirds and Arctic terns are the only species of bird observed capable of “free flight”, or hovering. Given the distances these athletes travel, they employ energy saving strategies such as a version of hang-gliding with such skill that it enables them to take a rest or even sleep while gliding. Arctic terns have their own complex community within their flocks. Arctic terns reach maturity between three and four years. The courtship ritual for this monogamous bird showcases its aerial prowess. Groups and pairs demonstrate high flights, soaring over the colony carrying prized fish with a strutting form of wing flap beating high above their back. Similarly, when on land the dance continues with posturing, strutting in circles and bowing. Now on the ground, the male will gift the fish to the female. Once paired, both will work together to feather their ground nests. These nests are constructed from shallow scrapes, which they usually line with debris and small scraps of plant material. The flock communicates not only through its courting motions, flight patterns, and calls, but also in collective silences. The “dread moment” refers to an instant when the entire flock of terns falls silent right before taking flight.
All this travel demands a sufficient and steady source of food. Naturally this sea predator’s dietary consumption directly influences the population as it feasts. Arctic terns catch and leave prey for local scavengers to enjoy. Just as they are sea predators, they also fall prey to other carnivorous sea-dwellers, providing nutrition to many animal species. Species of rats, hedgehogs, and similar predators take advantage of the ground laying of Arctic Terns to attack their nests. Human related disturbances also contribute heavily to the terns’ population threats through physical space being reallocated for human habitat to effects from entertainment or industry practices, such as overfishing, which can cause a deficit in the number of sand eels (a major food staple of Arctic tern diets). Arctic terns are also beginning to experience the negative effects of climate change on both habitat and food sources. Arctic terns are not endangered, but between predators and human disturbances their population has a declining trend. They have incredible geolocating abilities to traverse the airways between the poles and amazing inter-bird communication skills. The Arctic tern may be small but they are the gold medalists of long distance travel. n DECEMBER 2019 |5
Megaptera novaeangliae. Photo by: Gregory Smith, Flickr.
THE SOUTHWEST ATLANTIC HUMPBACK WHALE MAKES A COMEBACK By: Alexandrya Robinson, UHM MOP Student
Whaling has historically been a global practice used to benefit communities by bringing in money and raw materials. A population of humpback whales in the Southwest Atlantic waters were almost decimated during a whaling boom in thw 1900s; by the 1960s, there were so few whales left there were not enough humpbacks to support the whaling demand, causing a huge collapse. However, with the demand set by the market there was still a need to be met, so whaling continued for another twenty years, leaving less than a few hundred of these whales. These whales were placed under the protection of national treaties in hopes that there would be a population rebound. After forty years, the population has recovered to almost pre-whaling numbers. There is currently an estimated twenty-five thousand Southwestern Atlantic humpbacks, a 90% increase from the four hundred and fifty that remained after whaling destroyed their populations. There is a projected full recovery within the next ten years for the species to return to pre-whaling numbers, which is an increase of only a few thousand. This species has moved from critically endangered to â€˜of least concernâ€™, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. The hypothesized reasons why these whales rebounded as well as they did was due to their protection by international treaties, faster maturing rate, and lower gestation time periods. With humpback whales reaching sexual maturity between six and ten years, there is a large number that would reach their peak of breeding maturity within the projected time frame with a twelve-month gestation period and females having one calf every two or three years. Due to this, there is a positive outlook on the restoration of these whales.
Humpback whale. Photo by: Antarctica Bound, Flickr.
Humpback whales are important as nutrient cyclers in the ocean; they increase primary productivity by releasing fecal matter for organisms such as phytoplankton to utilize, as well as providing a source of food for killer whales and sharks. Even when these large mammals die, their bodies sink and provide sea floor nutrients and homes for deep ocean organisms. With the longevity of whales, they help to keep the marine ecosystem in a stable equilibrium. Before whaling, there was little concern for whales and their role in the ecosystem, but a post-whaling world has allowed for a unique insight into their impacts. While the Southwest Atlantic humpback whale has been fortunate in its ability to recover from the pernicious effects of whaling, some countries today are still wreaking havoc on whale and dolphin populations. To learn more, and figure out how you can help stop whaling for good, visit https://us.whales.org/ our-4-goals/stop-whaling/.n
THE BLOB: Return of the Pacific Ocean’s Heat Wave By: Rayna McClintock, UHM MOP Student
Reef fish around bleached coral reef. Photo by: Matt Kieffer, Flickr.
affects a lot of how we are going to survive.” Miloli‘i is a community located on the Big Island and is referred to as the last Hawaiian fishing village, making it especially vulnerable to the effects of this heat wave.
Bleached coral. Photo by: Eco Cafe’ Phuket, Flickr.
Scientists and residents of Hawai‘i alike have been on alert for the past couple of months as the ‘blob’ returns. This concerning ‘blob’ is a marine heat wave. Researchers are particularly worried because of the wave’s similarities to a warming event that occurred in 2014 when a hot spot formed in the Pacific and was formally named ‘the blob’. This event had serious impacts on the ocean ecosystem because it lingered over an expansive area of the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Alaska for years.
Coastal marine ecosystems are dependent on coral reefs. Coral is an incredible animal that contains algae called zooxanthellae in its tissue so it can utilize both cellular respiration and photosynthesis to get the nutrients it needs for survival. When ocean temperatures rise only a few degrees, the coral living in those water become stressed and release the zooxanthellae from their tissue. That algae is what gives coral its color, so its absence leaves the corals translucent, exposing the white calcium carbonate skeleton underneath. This makes it look like they have been bleached. The coral is not considered dead until macroalgae begins to grow over the coral skeletons.
Marine heat waves are very dangerous for Hawai‘i because of the way they impact the underwater ecosystems that so many people rely on for job and food security. A New York Times article by Kendra Pierre-Louis entitled, “The Return of the ‘Blob’: Hawaii’s Reefs Threatened by Marine Heat Wave”, conducted an interview with Ka’imi Kaupiko, a resident of Miloli‘i. He stated, “The ocean is very important to us. It Bleached Motipora dilatata. Photo by: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Flickr. 10| Seawords
Bleached soft coral. Photo by: budak, Flickr.
Coral bleaching in progress. Photo by: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Flickr.
The impacts of coral bleaching can be severe, contributing to the collapse of fish stocks and the death of many marine animals. During the last heat wave, some estimates found that 100 million cod disappeared off the coast of southern Alaska due to the disruption of the marine food web (Pierre-Louis 2019). In addition, this algal shift can cause the release of domoic acid, a neurotoxin that comes from the algae. Small organisms that consume the affected algae store those toxins in their tissues and when animals eat them, they get sick and can die. According to the same New York Times article, “Tens of thousands of dead seabirds washed up on beaches during the blob, as did sick and dying sea lions, most likely a result of domoic acid poisoning.” Climate change is directly influencing the temperatures of our oceans, leading to overall warming. Researchers say that climate change strongly influenced the original heat blob’s creation. Climate change is often thought of as a phenomenon that will have impacts in future but the truth is that people are being impacted today. This is no longer an issue of mitigating imaginary future impacts but attempting to solve the environmental problems that are already occurring.n
DECEMBER 2019 |11
Shipwreck of the Month: HMS Terror By: Brenna Loving, UHM MOP Student
Illustration of the HMS Terror by Owen Stanley. Photo by: BiblioArchives, Flickr. In September of 2016, after investigating its sunken sister ship HMS Erebus, the Arctic Research Foundation found the remains of the HMS Terror by an underwater vehicle in waters near Canada in Terror Bay. Built in 1813 for the British Royal Navy, the HMS Terror was used as a warship in the War of 1812, and participated in the attack on Fort McHenry. After the war, it was refurbished to accommodate polar temperatures, and Sir John Franklin set sail to navigate the Northwest Passage. This popular voyage called for 130 crew members for the approximated three year journey. In 1846, off of King William Island, the vessel became trapped in ice nearly one year after embarking on the journey from England, leaving the captain and his crew completely stranded. Due to dwindling resources and increasing desperation, the crew abandoned the vessel 12|â€ƒSeawords
on foot in search of civilization. Unfortunately, none of the men survived, as depicted by evidence of cannibalism amongst the crew. In 2016, the Arctic Research Foundation found the sunken ship shockingly well-preserved. Contrary to earlier beliefs, the ice did not destroy the vessel as many thought it would. Once investigated, divers found furniture, documents, dinnerware, and windows still in place and in excellent condition. The state of the found artifacts and vessel proved the HMS Terror to be one of the most excellent shipwreck discoveries in history. Today, the site of the wreck is observed as a national historic site of Canada, and remains an integrated aspect of the surrounding arctic marine ecosystem. n
Five Islands Unearthed by Glacial Melting By: Mercy Back, UHM MOP Student As a result of the global climate crisis and its direct effect on the Arctic, glacial melting has indisputably become more severe. This melting has recently uncovered five islands in the Russian Arctic. In 2016, satellite images showed these emerging islands, which were created by receding ice caps, but only in October of 2019 were scientists able to explore these islands and officially discover them.
Glacial melting is not old news to environmentalists. At Glacier National Park in Montana, U.S.A., the total number of glaciers has decreased from approximately 150 to fewer than 30, and the ice sheet in Greenland, according to NASA, declines significantly every year. The United Nations stated that the period between 2015 and 2019 has experienced record-breaking glacial melting as compared to any other five year period. According to the U.N., this situation requires an immediate call to action and the trends of glacial melting predict worsened conditions in the near future.
Russian experts who led this expedition concluded that these islands were only uncovered due to the rapidly decreasing size of glaciers in the Arctic. â€œBefore these were glaciers, we thought they were (part of) the main glacier. Melting, collapse, The process of naming these new islands is currentand temperature changes led to these islands bely underway, however, the impact of such a discoving uncovered,â€? stated the head of the expedition, ery sparks fear into environmentalists and conservaVice-Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, at a recent press tionists alike, especially when discussing the fate of conference held in Moscow. Between 2015 and the Arctic polar ice caps and the natural resources 2018, thirty other islands were discovered underthat lie within.n neath the affected ice cap in the Russian Arctic alone. Glacier falling into sea. Photo by: Kimberly Vardeman, Flickr.
Shrimp in Antarctica By: Samantha Darin, UHM MOP Student
Video footage from 2009 was recently uncovered depicting a shrimp-like animal 600 feet underwater beneath Antarctic ice. The discovery was made by a team of NASA scientists on an expedition to explore the undersides of Antarctic ice sheets. The animal was identified as a Lyssiansid amphipod. The NASA teamâ€™s site was located on the surface of a 590 foot thick ice sheet 20 miles Northeast of McMurdo Station and more than 12 miles away from open water. A small hole was drilled through the sheet of about 8 inches in diameter. A small camera was fed through the ice hole with the goal of capturing the first-ever footage of the underside of an Antarctic ice sheet; scientists were shocked when the amphipod appeared on camera at the bottom of the drilled hole. Antarctic waters teem with life. Salty, nutrient rich waters are circulated and brought to Antarctica from the other oceans. Life such as bacterial mats and clams has previously been discovered in the same waters. NASA scientists are currently at work researching salinity, temperature and other measures of the water in the location of the arthropod sighting to determine whether the conditions are typical for the species. Very little is known about life under the great Antarctic ice sheets, but this incredible discovery has opened up a door to learn much more. n
Preserved Lyssiansid amphipod specimen. Photo by: Yale University Peabody Museum, Wikimedia Commons.
Actions for the Ocean
BLUE By: Zada Boyce-Quentin & Alyssa Mincer, Seawords Staff
THE OCEAN SPANS OVER 70 PERCENT OF OUR WORLD. It is responsible for regulating temperature, food production, sustaining numerous species, and is a source for inspiration for many people.The ocean gives us so much and it is time for us to return the favor and take actions to make the ocean ecosystem healthy again. Almost every action that we take affects the ocean in some way. Our everyday choices can be tailored to support a healthy ocean. Here are some examples of green acts that will keep the ocean blue.
In the past few decades, as a consequence of human influence, climate change has peaked in both severity and awareness. A cursory news search will yield a deluge of stories about melting ice caps, rising sea levels, ruinous natural disasters, and more. While the magnitude of these crises is daunting, it is essential to work towards achieving a constructive outlook on the issue and applying this respective attitude to a beneficial cause. In addition to making individual changes to be more environmentally conscious, there are numerous groups laboring tirelessly to pursue a healthier community, and it is easy to get involved. Finally, political literacy and persistent participation are essential in order to effectuate change to a discernible extent.
Climate change marchers. Photo by: Joe Brusky, Flickr.
Living more sustainably
Volunteering and working with nonprofits
Eat lower on the food chain. Reduce carbon emissions and waste in your home by carpooling or travelling by bus, bike, or foot when possible. Keeping the heating and cooling appliances low, and turning off lights and appropriate apparatuses when they are not in use can also conserve energy. Additionally, limit single-use plastics by investing in reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and utensils. For further resources, as well as detailed explanations of sustainable living practices, check out past issues of Seawords.
Climate change volunteer groups and nonprofit organizations play a crucial role in improving their communities, both through direct action in the form of cleanups, plantings, and more, and by lobbying for governmental policies that will benefit the planet. Many of these groups rely on citizen involvement and support. On Oâ€˜ahu, check http://www.conservationconnections.org/opportunities/island/oahu for local opportunities to donate your time to the environment.
In order to enact change on a greater scale, it is essential to use your political power. Climate change has become an unnecessarily divided issue due to conflicts of interest between government officials and the oil and gas industry. Global warming affects everyone on the planet, so it is essential to make your voice heard and demand action from people in positions of power. Keep up with news about climate change legislation and contact your local representatives to advocate for policies that will make a difference. Most importantly, vote for politicians and programs that will protect the environment.n
Marine Mammal of the Month: Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) By: Zada Boyce-Quentin, Seawords Editor
Likely one of the first images that comes to mind when one thinks of the Arctic is that of a polar bear stalking Diet: Primarily ringed and bearded seals, may the ice. While these charismatic predoccasionally feed on walruses and whale carcasses ators dwell on land, they are classified Size: 6 to 9 feet long, up to 1700 pounds as marine mammals because they Range: Arctic circle to North Pole; Alaska, Canada, spend most of their time hunting on Russia, Greenland, and some Norwegian islands the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice, and their scientific name, Ursus maritimus, literal- Habitat: Arctic sea ice and snowy coastal areas ly means ‘bear of the sea’. IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable Polar bears devote much energy to chasing prey by necessity; they are the largest terrene carnivores on the planet, with large males standing 11 feet tall on their hind legs. Their spectacular size requires ample sustenance for survival. For this reason, these regal hunters primarily seek out ringed and bearded seals, which contain large stores of fat necessary for polar bears to maintain their strength and optimal body mass.
Polar bear on sea ice. Photo by: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr. 18| Seawords
Polar bears generally hunt by waiting for their prey to surface for breath and dragging them to land; however, they are also capable swimmers and can paddle through the water at around six miles per hour for long distances. Polar bears have a few remarkable adaptations which differentiate them from other bear species and allow them to thrive as an apex predator in the harsh climate of the Arctic. The first of these is their distinctive fur, which is water-repellant and hollow. This outer layer of fur is actually clear; it appears white because it reflects light, allowing the Ursus maritimus. Photo by: Christopher Michel, Flickr. polar bear to blend in with the ice and snow. Underneath the fur, a polar bear’s skin is black and covers a layer of insulating fat which can be up to 4.5 inches thick. This traps heat and is essential for swimming and surviving Arctic winters. Additionally, the massive size of these bears assists with heating by minimizing the surface area per pound that is exposed to the chill. In fact, the polar bear’s body is so adept at preserving body heat that they are in more danger of overheating than freezing, which is why they rarely run. The paws of the polar bear are also designed for their icy habitat. The width and flatness of their feet spreads out their significant weight and allows them to navigate sea ice with ease. Webs between their toes also play a role in weight distribution and help polar bears paddle through the water when swimming. Lastly, the pads of a polar bear’s paw are covered in papillae- small bumps that grip the ice and keep the bears from slipping. Polar bears are generally solitary animals, only congregating during the mating period and when a large food source, such as a beached whale, draws groups of them. When necessary, polar bears can communicate with each other using body language and growls or snorts in order to ask to share food or counter unwanted advances. Female polar bears and cubs also communicate with each other to indicate their emotional state; cubs may cry to convey distress or make small ‘um’ sounds when happy, while mothers scold cubs by growling and display worry via chuffing or panting. After polar bear cubs are born, their mothers stay with them for around two years, teaching them how to hunt and swim and sheltering them from the cold until they have developed enough to survive on their own. Polar bear cubs are playful animals and will frequently tussle with their siblings and mothers. While polar bears are powerful and skillful predators, they are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Melting sea ice has dramatically reduced the hunting grounds of these marine mammals, resulting in food shortages and longer, more hazardous journeys when polar bears swim from shore to ice and back. The haunting pictures of malnourished polar bears struggling to stay afloat on shrinking ice floes have been circulated widely as concerns about climate change have become more prevalent; however, this increase in awareness has done little as of yet to change the policies and practices that threaten the survival of this iconic creature. In order to learn more about polar bears and get involved in the fight to save them, go to: http://polarbearsinternational.org/get-involved.n DECEMBER 2019 |19
A Subantarctic Island
By: Alyssa Mincer
Satellite image of South Georgia. Photo by: European Space Agency, Flickr.
With a climate typical of the southern polar region of the globe, the landmasses that protrude from the depths of the subantarctic seas (the regions to the immediate north of the Antarctic circle) are characterized by frigid, rough winds, consistent snow and rain, and tempestuous waters. The severity of the weather, along with the rugged, mountainous terrain of the area, create an overall inhospitable location which dissuade a wide variety of organisms from occupying the region. In spite of this, the lands of the subantarctic support an extensive array of inhabitants, each individual well-adjusted and prepared for the unforgiving elements. Free from the potentially deleterious effects of foreign presence, especially those of human influence, the subantarctic effectively shelters and promotes the growth of the native species that thrive off of the presented resources. Situated in the South Atlantic Ocean, the latitudes of the subantarctic are spotted with several islands, with the most prevalent being South Georgia. The island, formed from the same geological activity that shaped the range of the Andes, is positioned below the Antarctic convergence, or the hydrologic boundary that separates the colder waters of the Antarctic and the warmer waters of the Atlantic. As a result of the nutrient dense waters that envelop the land, South Georgia, at a mere 1,450 square miles in size, is a biological hotspot, and promotes an astounding diversity of life. These range from organisms of microscopic dimensions, such as Antarctic krill, to those of magnificent proportions, like whales. 20|â€ƒSeawords
d Teeming with Life
r, Assistant Editor Notwithstanding the compact size of the island, South Georgia has an eminent reputation for hosting a few of the most populous seabird, penguin, and seal colonies on the planet. As mentioned, the success of the native communities owes itself to the ecological purity of the location, which is generally protected from the external desecrations evoked by invasive species. The several penguin species, as an example, as well as the abundance of migratory seabirds that utilize the land as a breeding and nesting site, have no distinct land predators, excepting the frequent occupancy and occasional disruption of seals upon the island. In previous years, however, a species of rodent, the Norway rat, was accidentally introduced to South Georgia via cargo from sealing and whaling boats, a mishap that resulted in subsequent, drastic losses to albatross and penguin communities. In addition, two endemic bird species were nearly wiped out, the South Georgia pipit and South Georgia pintail. Following exhaustive eradication efforts in 2018, the undesirable Norway rat was entirely extirpated and now ceases to exist within the reaches of the island. Off the northwest tip of South Georgia lies Bird Island, a chunk of land that, like the main territory of South Georgia, supports a remarkable array of avian species. With a length of three miles and a width of nine hundred yards, space is rather limited and the thousands of the residents of the island are constantly grappling for space. Marine mammals, specifically Antarctic fur seals, have established permanent settlements on the terrestrial setting of the environment. In the surrounding waters, cetaceans, such as the southern right whale, can often be encountered off proximate waters. Flocks of birds, in vast quantities of hundreds of thousands of individuals, occupy both the sky and the ground; dominant species include macaroni penguins, black-browed albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, wandering albatrosses, and southern giant petrels. The lands of South Georgia, of Bird Island, and of the remainder of this archipelago within the subantarctic region of the southern oceans are overflowing with the essence and activity of life. Detached from the bustling centers of the earth, this remote location, with its immense assortment of organisms, offers the world a glimpse into the reality of a raw, wild land.n
VISITING THE HEART O
BY: Amiti Maloy, U On November 16, MOP students met for a tour of Gilligan’s Island. While no actual filming for the iconic show took place on the grounds, this nickname is derived from its distant outline being used during the beginning credits. The logo for the television series is a shot of this 28 acre plot of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Other names for Gilligan’s Island include Coconut Island, for the many coconut trees planted in honor of Queen Emma’s achievements by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, and its Hawaiian name, Moku o Lo‘e. The island is currently home to the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) of the University of Hawai‘i. Island researcher and tour guide Andrew Osberg, a former MOP student, explained that it was not until Christian Holmes II, heir of the Fleischmann yeast and vodka fortune, purchased the island that it doubled in size when between 1934 and 1936 he dredged sand, earthen landfill, and broken coral from the bottom of Kane‘ohe Bay for the 12 acre expansion. When World War II landed near its shores, Holmes offered up his island home to be converted into a rest, recovery, and relaxation location for the United States Navy. Following Holmes’ death in 1944, the property was sold to Edwin Pauley and four fellow businessmen who intended to transform the space into Coconut Island Club International, an exclusive members-only resort to accommodate up to 32 guests. During their tenure at Coconut Island, Pauley donated a building and additional space to the University of Hawai‘i of a marine research facility in 1948. Over time the ownership of the island changed hands, but the marine research facility remained until 1995 when the Edwin Pauley Foundation gifted $9.6 million dollars to ensure the University of Hawai‘i Foundation was able to purchase the remaining private half of this island. On our tour, we visited multiple outdoor research locations learning about the flora, marine life, and listening to advice about how to make our dreams a reality. As we walked along the coral mile trail, we stopped to put our feet in the sand. We held sand made from calcium carbonate breakdown including micro-bits of coral in our hands, and Andrew placed a small dose of vinegar on each mound. Immediately they bubbled, and the fizzing noticeably deteriorated the sand, breaking its bonds and showing clearly that acidity, like what is on the rise in the oceans, is destructive. 22| Seawords
OF MARINE RESEARCH
UHM MOP Student
After the reaction was complete, we continued our interactive learning with the water table touch pool where we were able to gently touch creatures like urchins, feather dusters, and sea cucumbers. Following this, we watched the speed and agility of hammerhead and sandbar sharks as they feasted. The tour concluded with a visit to the coral tanks outside the Gates Lab, where we observed coral growth experiments. While all of the indoor labs were closed to guests for the weekend, we perused the posters and scholarly journal submissions that decorate indoor corridors. HIMB houses year-round marine research including state-of-the-art laboratories, algal and larval culture facilities, genetics core work, a Super Sucker barge, and a research fleet. This field trip was truly special. From the moment that we stood eagerly waiting for the boat to arrive, our eyes were entranced by the island’s outline. Going there brought the theory and history of marine science to life. This is the place where so many discoveries have been made, where great minds have pondered some of the planet’s greatest threats. Walking where they walked and being immersed in this breath-taking space was both humbling and inspiring. Having an actual scientist working on the grounds double as our guide helped to build this intimacy between their mission and our visit. Although I cannot speak for others, for me, this visit made me feel more connected and more passionate about the importance of the work being conducted on its grounds. HIMB does amazing, impactful work. Having the opportunity to visit where it all began and is still a foremost place for marine research was a meaningful experience that I would encourage others to experience. Interested in going for a tour? Contact the HIMB Center for Community Education https://himbcep.org email@example.com or 808-235-9302 n DECEMBER 2019 |23
Gyotaku Fish Printing Dean 104
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The December 2019 issue of Seawords, the Marine Option Program Newsletter