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Seaw rds The Marine Option Program Newsletter

November 2015

12 “ The only luminescence was from the jerking of dive lights in the water against a purple sky painted by dusk.”


November 2015 Volume XXIX, Number 9

Articles Page 3: Letter from the Editor Page 4: Ocean Updates Page 7: Critter of the Month Page 8: My summer in...Kiritimati Page 12: The Loligaggers Page 14: Dive Safety Tip of the Month Page 16: NOAA Main Hawaiian Island Cruise in Pictures Page 24: Ocean Art Page 26: Generation Blue Page 28: Marine Mammal of the Month Page 31: Flashback Page 34: Calendar of Events

About the Photography -Cover: Matt Connelly, UH Hilo MOP Coordinator -Table of Contents: Daniel Jennings-Kam -October calendar of events: Allison Watts -Back cover: John Coney -All uncredited photos by: MOP -Disclaimer: any photo taken from is used under the Creative Commons License and is credited appropriately with links to the user’s flickr account.

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Letter from the Editor


loha Seawords readers, we are very excited to welcome Camra Hopper to the Seawords staff as the new Editor! This month, we bring you an article written by the a UH Hilo MOP student, Keelee Martin, on sea cucumber surveys conducted by MOP students in light of the recent sea cucumber moratorium. Also in this issue, we will be featuring an article by UHM MOP student Sean Dimoff on his research experience in the remote Christmas Island. Readers can also find the new additions to Seawords, Marine Mammal of the Month and Dive Safety Tip of the Month. Mahalo to all the contributing authors that made this issue possible. Thank you for reading,

-Brijonnay Madrigal, Seawords Editor

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cean updates By Camra Hopper UHM MOP Student

Mangrove Forest. Photo credit: Peyri Herrara, Flikr

Indo-Pacific By 2070 Professor Catherine Lovelock, a University of Queensland ecologist, suggests that mangrove forests around the Indo-Pacific region, Thailand, Sumatra, Java, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, could be submerged. Even with the relatively low sea-level rise, many mangrove forests have a poor outlook.

rise could threaten the long-term sustainability of coastal communities and of valuable ecosystems such as coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves.

Arctic Ocean

We’ve known of the exists of polar cod beneath the ice, but have never been able to capture them, till now. Researchers working with Alfred Wegener Institute, Mangrove forests grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, Halmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to been able to catch polar cod (Boreogadus saida) for the accumulate. They stabilize coastlines, reduce erosion first time. This population can now be studied, looking from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. Manat behavior, genetics, and stock assessment. The invengroves serve as a food source for many organisms and tion of a net equipped with cameras, developed by provide shelter from predators. The sediment delivery AWI’s Dutch partners with IMARES, is the size of a car in the Indo-Pacific region is declining due to the activi- and sits within the ice flow. This has allowed scientists ty of dam construction. There is an urgent need to plan to properly survey the cod below the ice. Now, scienfor maintenance for sediment supply in river systems tists are able to gather information about their largethat were likely to be dammed or heavily modified in scale distribution and origin of these juvenile cod that future because the lack of sediment flowing. Sea-level are only found below the ice. One of the major ques4| Seawords

tions that previously could not be answered was how well the fish are surviving. In order to determine this, scientists analyzed their tissue in the laboratory and found that the cod were in top condition. These findings suggest that there was enough food under the ice, making the sea ice a true nursery ground for polar cod. These new insights will provide information about how polar cod populations will change in the face of climate change. The fear that climate change could cause these fish to disappear is a growing concern because cod is a major food source. for seals, whales, and seabirds.

Virginia Tech Did you know that dolphins and fishes aren’t the only marine creatures that can jump out of the water, but an aquatic animal a thousand times smaller can also jump out of the water? Sunghwan Jung, associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, released a study focusing on the jumping behavior of copepods (Copepoda) which are small teardrop-shaped plankton near the bottom of the aquatic food chain that can shoot out of the water to escape predators. The copepods velocity is the primary factor that determines its ability to break the surface water tension created by the attractive force between molecules that create surface elasticity. Although only certain species of copepods can actually break the water’s surface. Dolphins have it easy since the surface tension is negligible due to their mass, but for copepods the faster it swam towards the surface, the more likely it was to break through without being bounced back. The angle of contact and surface characteristics didn’t have any effect, only velocity. Only four species were observed breaking the surface, but had to achieve impact speeds of about one meter per second, about 600 meters per seconds for a human, making copepods the smallest animals that can actually leap out of water.

how a common ocean virus can wreak havoc on so many sea star species is still unexplainable. Key information about this event has recently been provided by young marine-disease researches from around the country attending a summer class at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories first looked specifically at how genes expressed themselves in both healthy and sick sea stars. This could help explain how sea stars attempt to fight the virus and why they develop lesions. Together, the students published their results in an open-access journal PLOS ONE. The students began their research by examining 30,000 genes from healthy and sick sea stars and found that sick sea stars expressed genes differently than healthy ones, there was a strong evidence of an immune response at the genetic level and that some of the genes involved in the nervous system and tissue-building were expressed differently. Scientists now suspect certain environmental conditions or even water temperatures can contribute to the rate of disease or how effectively the sea stars can fight off the disease. Because of this research, scientist are shifting their focus to sea star populations and the genetic code of densovirus in hopes that they can characterize how sea stars respond to the disease. (Continues on next page...)

West Coast For the past few years millions of sea stars from Alaska to California have perishes from an apparent wasting disease, and scientists can’t explain why. A sea star with the disease develops white lesions on its limbs and within days can dissolve or “melt” in to a gooey mass. The pathogen thought to be causing this disease is known as densovirus, or sea star wasting disease. But the mass wipe-out within the last three-years and

Photo credit: J. Maughn, Flikr

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San Fransisco Bay The next harmful, indirect consequence to the burning of waste and burning of fossil fuels, is here, and it’s worse than you think. Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered that thawing permafrost and contaminated sediment in marine coastal areas pose some of the greatest risks for the production of highly toxic methylmercury, monomethylmercury(II) cation. Two new locations for methylmercury production have been reported by ORNL and note in previous research they found there are two genes in bacteria that can convert inorganic mercury into its organic form, known as methylmercury. This form is far more dangerous to humans and the environment. ORNL and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have found that these genes are present in micro tubes from many of the 3,500 environment they have examined. Along the way, researchers found several new and unusual bacteria to add to the methylmercury production list. With the exception of the mammalian gut, scientists found that the mercury methylation genes are abundant in nearly every oxygen-free environment; rice paddies, marshes, and aquatic sediments. Mercury is released into the atmosphere on a global scale through coal burning, small-scale mining, industrial uses and some natural processes. Most of the harm comes from methylmercury bioaccumulation, which is the build-up of the element in tissue that occurs when moving up the food chain. Cynthia Glimour of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center said, “We found an abundance of the microbial mercury methylation genes in coastal sediments such as the San Francisco Bay delta and marches.” Scientists are looking for other microbes able to methylate mercury to further explain where this process happens and ways to minimize the risk to humans and animals. n

San Fransisco Bay, California. Photo credit: Rose Davis, Flikr

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critter of the month

Photo credit:MOP

Crown-of-thorns Scientific Name: Acanthaster planci Crown-of-thorns (Acanthaster planci) is a larger, multiple armed sea star named after the venomous thorn-like spikes that cover its top half (dorsal). They are one of the largest species of sea star in the world, and can be found in most tropical and subtropical climates including the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea. Adult crown-of-thorns range in size between 25-35cm, and can have up to 21 arms. They usually appear in duller colors from a pale brown to red (although they may appear greyish green at depth), and feed primarily on coral polyps. A. planci contain asterosaponins (a mixture of chemical compounds) in their tissue. Although they do not have a mechanism for injecting the toxins, being punctured by one of the thorns can cause a sharp stinging pain that can last for hours. NOVEMBER  2015  |7

Photo credit: MOP stock

My summer in..



his past summer I was so fortunate to have been able to join Dr. Julia Baum’s Lab at the University of Victoria, Canada on a research trip to Kiritimati Island. Kiritimati is a small island in southern Pacific, it exists as part of the Republic of Kiritibati and is geographically grouped as part of the Line Islands. Kiritimati is also the world’s largest atoll and contains the world’s largest lagoon. The residents live in several villages or towns spanning most of the island. Many of these towns are named after cities or countries from around the world such as Poland, London, Paris, Tennessee, and Banana. The research team was stationed in London on the Northern section of the island (Figure 1).

two research sections, a fish team and a coral/microbe team. I served as part of the fish team with Scott Clark, the staff research associate from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Our responsibilities during trip included testing all tanks daily to ensure there was no contamination as well as conducting fish, urchin surveys, and herbivore bite-count surveys at study sites all around the island. As soon as I met the team, I was welcomed onto it, but we were all put right to work. We met in Honolulu the day before our flight to Kiritimati, we packed our bags together to ensure that all of the equipment was packed away under the weight limits for the plane. After the bags were packed we all headed out for a final meal before the research trip began. It was really nice to sit down with the team and talk story with everyone to get to know each other before the stress of the work needed to be completed on the trip took control. After dinner we all laid down to bed and got some shut-eye before the flight the next morning. The next morning we loaded all of our equipment onto the plane (praying it would reach our destination), boarded, and headed out to Kiritimati. The only commercial flight that goes to Kiritimati Island is an Air Fiji plane that stops for a layover on Kiritimati once a week on its way to Fiji. The airport at Kiritimati is little

Figure 1 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff

The research team consisted of two graduate students from Dr. Baum’s lab, two research assistants, one undergraduate student from the University of Victoria and one staff research associate from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Our team was split into 8| Seawords

Figure 2 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff



By Sean Dimoff, UHM MOP Student

more than a shack with one kind lady and several staff help you unload your bags and ensure that you have a passport when you enter the country (Figure 2). Once we had made our way through Kiribati customs, Scott and I were immediately picked up by the owner of the compound we were staying at in a silver SUV. We loaded up our gear and headed out, promising to meet up with the rest of the research crew once we got settled. There were no paved roads on our way to the Dive Kiribati compound, where we would be staying, and the land was as flat as a desert plain. It seemed that the only vegetation that had taken hold on the island was palm trees and small shrubs and grasses. For the entire drive, I was giddy and nervous; I couldn’t believe that I had made it on this research team and, that I was to be part of this adventure in such an exotic and exciting place as Kiritimati Island. As we pulled into the compound I realized I was going to have an amazing experience.

consisted of two beds, an “upstairs” storage area and a bathroom with shower and toilet. As we settled into what would be our home for the next 21 days, the reality of the situation still had not settled into me, I was awestruck by the novelty of the entire experience (Figure 3).

Figure 4 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff

Scott and I settled in and then went to visit the rest of the research team that was staying at a different compound, one that fit their needs for dealing with samples for the studies they were conducting. We visited with everyone and then headed home to get some sleep before our first day of diving and research. I thought there was no way I would get any shut-eye. Figure 3 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff

Dive Kiribati consists of two thatch roofed huts, a dining hall, an owner’s residence, and a massive storage area filled with cargo ship containers and ancient research supplies that were never brought home. Scott and I were put up in one of the huts, our residence

The first things I remember from the next morning were pigs, pigs, pigs, and the sunrise. Pigs in the compound next to us were running and squealing so much that they woke me up without even the need for my alarm. I opened my eyes experiencing complete amnesia—I was looking up at this mosquito net over my bed, sweating in the heat, hearing pigs play next to the hut that I was sleeping in. For the first few NOVEMBER 2015  |9

Photo credit: MOP stock

minutes I just had to orient myself with my surroundings, taking it all in before I realized where I was. As soon as this realization hit me, I looked out through our wooden stick wall into one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. I hopped out of bed and scrambled to get my camera to make sure not to miss the moment (Figure 4).

Figure 5 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff

The first day sent me right into the grind, I learned all that I was responsible for on the trip, and the team got right to doing their research and collecting data. This running start to the trip filled me with anxiety, would I be able to perform as well as they hoped? Would I disappoint my team members if I couldn’t do all that was asked of me? What if I made a huge mistake and ruined EVERYTHING!? When I mentioned my anxiety to the team members, everyone was receptive and helpful and quickly alleviated my fears. They reminded me that I wouldn’t have been chosen for the trip without my qualifications and that it would be fine, all I had to do was relax.

Fortunately, being part of the fish team, I did not need to partake in the water filtering that the coral/microbe team would spend the early hours of the morning slaving over; but that doesn’t mean that our days were a piece of cake. Once a week we had a day off from diving to allow our bodies to off-gas the nitrogen that we had built up diving several times a day for most of a week. These days were also useful for finding missing equipment that was shipped to the island, stocking up on candy from the local stores, catching up on lab work and data entry, and getting a little extra sleep. By the second week, I was actually starting to feel like an essential part of the team. We all had our inside jokes and while the stress had built up, everyone was still working together really well. The team started calling me an “upper” because after every dive I couldn’t stop telling everyone how amazing the coral and fish life was. It seemed that each consecutive dive was exponentially better than the previous. Due to low wave activity while we were there, we were able to go and dive in the eastern bay of the island, called the Bay of Wrecks. Typically this part of the island is unreachable by sea due to rough conditions, providing it with safety from overfishing and fish collectors. In addition to its sanctuary from fishing and collecting, the bay has no major human development around it. This absence of anthropogenic pressures has allowed the reefs in the Bay of Wrecks to stay relatively pristine, and unbelievably beautiful to a diver used to diving the heavilyimpacted reefs surrounding O‘ahu (Figure 6). The first time I dropped underneath the surface to observe the coral beneath me, my breath was stolen… corals stretched from horizon to horizon, as far as the

It didn’t happen immediately, but within the first week I had settled into a routine: wake up at sunrise and eat breakfast, go and check all of the tanks, load tanks and equipment onto the boat, transit to the dive site (napping possible here), prep all gear before you arrive so you are set to hit the water as soon as you get there, first dive , surface interval, second dive, surface interval (lunch time), third dive, surface interval, and a fourth dive if we had time in the day before our transit home, unload all of the tanks and take them to the compressor to be filled before the next day, eat dinner, input data, and finally get some shut eye (Figure 5). Figure 6 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff

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eye could see. I couldn’t believe my eyes as thousands of fusiliers (Caesionidae) schooled together, flying over the reefs with schools of jacks (Carangidae) chasing and prodding them along. My favorite dive of the whole trip occurred at what we called “study site 10”. The site was a nearly vertical drop off that went from 10 feet down to probably something over 100 feet deep. The largest schools of fusiliers I had ever seen swarmed across the top of the reef, chased by schools of large jacks, 2 to 4 feet long each. We got to the site in the afternoon so the water was darker and added to the mysticism of the site, the conditions on the surface had progressively deteriorated throughout the day as well so as you looked up you could see the waves crashing above us and the light filtering through. As we completed our fish surveys I swam past the end of the transect just as a massive giant trevally (Caranx ignoblis) swam right up to me and looked me right in the eyes. That experience will forever live with me as another reason why I chose this career path and want my life’s work to be to protect our oceans. By the end of the trip I was exhausted, but changed as a person. Living in Kiritimati for most of a month gave me a new view of life. Working with the amazing people that I had the chance to, helped me build my confidence and allowed me to grow as a man and as member of a team. I was able to experience some of the culture of Kiritimati while I was there as well. A few of the nights the research team was able to go and watch the island basketball games associated with the

Independence week festival that was taking place while we were there. We interacted with locals every day, even if it was just a wave and a hello as we passed each other on the road or a full conversation about what we were doing on the island. Every time we passed someone whether in a car or walking beside the road, as soon as you smiled you were greeted with a smile and a wave back. Despite the great attitudes of the locals, their luxuries are much fewer than ours. Houses built from cinderblock and scrap metal are common and some communities just live under large pavilions without any walls. Learning how fortunate we are by observing the happiness present in those with so fewer luxuries, gave me a new appreciation for so much that I had previously taken for granted. When we finally packed up to head home it was with heavy but full hearts and tired backs. Every member of the team put their heart and soul into the research and data we collected and we were all ready for some rest and relaxation. I flew back with most of the team to Honolulu and then wished them well on their way back to Victoria, Canada. A few of our team stayed for an extra week in Kiritimati to entertain family that travelled out to experience the diving and living experience that the island provided. This trip changed my life, it opened my eyes to the realities of field research (which I loved) and confirmed for me that I had chosen the correct major and career path for myself (Figure 7). n

Photo Credit: Eileen Davis

Figure 7 Photo credit: Sean Dimoff

I would like to thank Dr. Julia Baum and the Baum Lab for choosing me to assist them on this research trip, the members of my research team: Danielle Claar, Kristina Tietjen, Kieran Cox, Jamie McDevitt-Irwin, Lisa Szostek, and Scott Clark as well as the UH Marine Option Program for giving me access to my research diving training and being the vector that put me in contact with the Baum Lab. If you wish to find out more information about the important research that the Baum Lab is conducting please visit their website at

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L O L I G A G G E R S 12| Seawords

By Keelee Martin, UH Hilo MOP Student


t was dark. The only luminescence was from the jerking of dive lights in the water against a purple sky painted by dusk. Amidst a 120 day ban posted by the State Governor prohibiting the harvest of any sea cucumber species from Hawaiian waters, eleven UH Hilo MOP students participated in a sea cucumber survey in the Wai ‘opae tide pools. Located on the east side of Hawai‘i in the Puna district, some of the tide pools fall within a Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD), where no fishing, harvesting or commercial activities are permitted. An MLCD gives the species within it a chance to grow and reproduce without human predation. Dr. Misaki Takabayashi, a UH Hilo professor who studies coral disease and actively surveys at Wai ‘opae, was approached by members of the Kapoho community about a concern over the sea cucumber population since they have been recently targeted in a growing fishery. Dr. Takabayashi reached out to MOP and students were given the opportunity to survey the area to establish baseline data that will be sent to the Division of Aquatic Resources. Sea cucumbers are often referred to as the “vacuum cleaners of the ocean,” feeding on detritus and removing organic material that can impact the health of the reef. Due to their important role in the marine ecosystem, a decrease in their population poses negative consequences. To prep for the survey, a sea cucumber ID workshop was held to familiarize the surveyors with the eleven species groups they would be looking for. Each of the four teams were equipped with at least one surveyor with knowledge of the study site and two other team members who wanted to gain more surveying experience. Two teams surveyed pools within the MLCD and the other two surveyed outside the MLCD. The four tide pools were surveyed twice, once by day and once by night. Under an ominous sky and falling rain, MOP students in full wetsuits and snorkel gear eased their way across the shallow pools with data sheets in hand. The first task was to secure a perimeter around the pool with weighted glow sticks so that once

Photo credits: Jenna Budke, UH Hilo MOP student (left-most photo) and Matt Connelly UH Hilo MOP Coordinator (all other photos)

the sun set the same area could be surveyed in the dark. Each team developed their own surveying path best suited for the size and shape of their pool and counted sea cucumber abundance. The surveying pattern consisted of scanning the reef for cucumbers, diving down beneath rocks, and constantly clearing snorkels of the rain. Upon completion of the daylight survey, students walked back across the shallow pools to a covered pavilion for cold rice and warm chili. Everyone, damp and cold sat in a half pulled down wetsuit, in fold up chairs. Dinner commenced and the community of MOP settled in with geeky conversation. After sunset it was still raining and teams gathered their gear, clipped the second data sheet to their slates and set off to their respective pools. Above the surface, clustered lights expanded in different directions while below the surface lights shown on sleeping fish and the creatures of the night. Perimeters of glow sticks were still in position and what had once seemed familiar, was now foreign in the dark. Strategies were set and teams conducted their survey, again finding a rhythm. A symphony of snorkel spouts serenaded the falling rain. Nocturnal species made their début in the spotlight of sweeping dive lights and students grew familiar with their data sheet despite it being poorly lit. Accordion sea cucumbers stretched out their feeding tentacles into the dark water in a feeding ballet and stubborn sea cucumbers perched along the pool wall. With higher counts on the night survey, each team gathered their glow sticks and navigated their way back to shore. Dark and still raining, teams arrived back at the pavilion cold and heavy with their sopping wet gear, un-phased and smiling—sharing stories of their discoveries. After adventurous encounters surveying the loli (sea cucumbers) these MOP students were now affectionately known as “the loligaggers.” n NOVEMBER 2015  |13


The Dangers of Complacency in Diving By Sean Dimoff, UH Dive Safety Program Photos by Jeff Kuwabara, UHM MOP Coordinator


e have all heard it before: “I’ve been diving for (X) number of years. Of course I know what I am doing.” In fact, I am sure many of us have uttered those very words at some point or another. But these words can actually be an indicator of a practice in diving that can be detrimental to anyone’s diving skill and safety. Becoming a complacent diver is rarely taught something taught in any course, but it is a threat to all divers that engage in the sport. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines complacency is as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” Through continual exposure to diving, divers can build up complacency or an unawareness to the actual dangers, particularly as they distance themselves from their training. In their introduction to diving, new divers are taught all safety measures taken in diving and they might be shown the importance of those safety measures through the use of stories from either the in-

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structor or the larger diving community. This typically gives new divers a cautionary outlook on diving, they understand the fun of it but also get a sense for some of the dangers presented when good diving habits aren’t followed. However, as new divers continue to distance themselves from this training through the passing of time or lack of continual or renewed training, they can build up confidence and lose their awareness to some of the important risks that we assume while diving. It is this buildup of overconfidence and lack of risk-association that we typically label as diving complacency. Diving complacency can take many forms, but typically it comes in the form of the ignorance of critical diving safety principles. Mistakes commonly seen in complacent divers include forgotten buddy checks, lack of good buddy communication, diving in unsafe conditions, assumptions about diving proficiency, and lack of dive planning. Each of these in itself presents dangers to the divers and the dive team:

Forgotten buddy checks can allow divers to enter the water lacking essential equipment or working equipment, all things that would be reviewed in a buddy check. If you need help on remembering what all to check during a buddy check, we like the commonly used acronym S.E.A.B.A.G. The S.E.A. of the acronym stands for site, emergency, and activity; important parts of planning any dive activity. The B.A.G. stands for buoyancy, air, gear and highlights important parts of a buddy check. So first check all things associated with buoyancy such as weights and Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) function. After that, check all air associated equipment: make sure both regulators work, your air pressure gauge is reading correctly and that your air is on. Finally, make sure you have all of the gear that you are going to need to complete your diving activity, (i.e. does your buddy have their mask, gloves, wetsuit, and fins?). Lack of buddy communication can actually come in several different forms. Practices like not going over signals before descending to not paying attention to a buddy underwater contribute to dangerous diving. Diving with a buddy loses its purpose with a lapse of buddy communication. The reason that we teach buddy diving is because it gives both individuals another resource if anything goes wrong on the dive. If you cannot communicate with your buddy because you don’t understand common diving signals underwater or you cannot gain their attention then you endanger yourself and lose that vital underwater resource. Diving in unsafe conditions and false assumptions of diving proficiency can occur with any diver who has started to allow their confidence to outmatch their actual ability level. Divers who dive often or feel confident in their abilities may allow themselves to become overconfident and experience bravado when an opportunity comes to dive in conditions that they are unprepared for. It is important in these situations that as a diver, you realize your safety is paramount to your pride or your ego and you practice caution in the diving activities you choose to participate in. (Refer to “When to call a dive” from last month’s Seawords issue.)

take can have dire consequences, not understanding your own air intake as well as having some concept of your buddies air consumption can place you in outof-air situation that might have been nonexistent with prior dive planning. Planning is critical in any diving activity; it keeps buddies on the same page about the layout of the dive and can alert any topside lookout of potential problems on a dive. Dive planning gives divers a structure to their dive, contingency plans in the event of changing conditions, and emergency plans to deal with any dangerous situations that could occur on the dive. Diving complacency is a serious detrimental behavior that divers must combat in order to dive safely and comfortable within their limits. The behavior can proliferate with lack of exposure to training, therefore, returning to training can be an effective preventative. If you haven’t experienced any training in a prolonged period of time, taking a “check-up” class with a local instructor can be a great way to refresh a lot of the procedures and philosophies behind good diving form and safe diving practices. Another way to ensure you are staying informed and up-to-date on your diving is to go back to training to get further instruction. Earning an advanced diver, rescue diver, or master diver certification all provide you with training that reaffirms all of these important safety principles and can make you more competent and comfortable as a diver. Complacency is not something that is difficult to prevent, just make sure to put thought into planning your diving activity and refer to your training to make sure you adhere to the safety principles you were taught. n

Lack of dive planning is another critical mistake made by complacent divers. This can mean that either you are entrusting your buddy with their knowledge of your dive profile or that you have not put any thought into what your dive profile should look like. This misNOVEMBER 2015  |15

NOAA Main Hawa

A Cruise

The Metal Shark - the fish team’s jet boat

Double boat selfie taken during o between dives. The days dives wo that the four dive boats with thei relatively close to render assistan diving emergency.

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aiian Islands Cruise

e in Pictures

By Tate Wester, UHM Student Coordinater

A triple boat selfie on our last day of diving.

one of our surface intervals ould usually be planned out so ir separate teams could remain nce to each other in case of a Photo Credit: Tate Wester (All) NOVEMBER 2015窶ポ17

Red algae Neomeris annulata (ring finger seaweed)

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Under the Sea


ea... Scyllarides squammosus (scaly slipper lobster)

Centropyge potteri (Potter’s angelfish)

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Sebastapistes fowleri (dwarf scorpionfish)

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Lactoria fornasini (thornback cowfish) Carcharhinus galapagensis (Galapagos reef shark)

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Water sampling with niskin bottle.

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The wreck of the San Miguel Navy tanker wrecked on Maro Reef in 1957 which the Maritime Heritage Team discovered.

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ocean art by Antonio Torrijos Antonio’s poem was chosen from a collection of poems submitted to us by Eric Paul Shaffer, an HCC English professor and written by his from his English 241 class.

Bookmarked Waters

When I used to live in the heart of Manila, I had always thought that the waves of the ocean marked the end of the road that I walked, and the first quarter of my life was meant to be a tale untold beyond the tide.

Those were my thoughts until the great Uncle Sam decided to send me an invitation to his lands of greener grass. As much as I wanted to keep my feet firm on my soil of my home, I knew when to answer the call when liberty bells came ringing.

I took to the skies on board a plane flying slower than sound and saw the world from the perspective of the clouds. I realized that the ocean is nothing but a hurdle, like any other puddle, only a trillion times larger.

And now, whenever I looked back towards the horizon where the sun retreated to prepare for a new day, I recalled the life I once had on the other side of the Pacific and reflected on the path I took from my past.

And I wonder, after a moment or so, if the seas around me were the only thing that separated me from what I used to be and are keeping me from what I can become.

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Photo credit: Kristina Tietjen

Antonio Jose Torrijos is an aspiring writer and a journalism graduate from the Philippines. He is currently employed parttime in two different jobs while taking writing classes at Honolulu Community College. For him, writing is a passion that he hopes to continue doing for the years to come.

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Actions for the Ocean


By Jessica Lotts, UHM MOP Student


It is responsible for regulating temperature, food production, sustaining numerous marine species, and is a source for inspiration among multiple other things. 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.

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he United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has estimated that if our current over fishing practices continue, all global fisheries could collapse by 2050. The UNEP report states that 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks have already plummeted, with only 25 percent of the remaining markets containing a sustainable amount of healthy fish. In addition to the crash of fisheries, the over abuse of wild caught fish has drastically taken a toll on fish populations. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) and yellowtail flounder (Pleuronectes ferruginea) populations have been recorded at an all-time low, along with the breeding population of the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) at a shockingly low four percent. We can do our part in helping to sustain healthy fishing practices by:


Only purchasing seafood from supermarkets that practice seafood sustainability. Members at Greenpeace have been helping consumers make smarter purchases by ranking the sustainability efforts of the top supermarket chains. To see which stores have the safest seafood practices, you can visit their website at:

Photo Credit: Brian DeWitt, Flikr


Checking out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch webpage to learn about the global demand for seafood, discover sustainable recipes you can make at home, and even become a Seafood Watch Partner. :

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Photo credit: Artimalia, Flikr


By Jeremy Gasta, American Cetacean Society Stu

T AMMAL of the

he baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes Vexillifer), nicknam cific population data are unknown, the baiji has been declared to maintain the species’ existence. Despite their similar physic similar appearances are instead due to convergent evolution. L to catch fast-moving fish in murky or brackish water. They have bulbou as river dolphins– freshwater rivers or brackish water, with swift prey an murky water, river dolphins are have tiny eyes that render them virtuall underbelly, though sometimes exhibit pink hues or patches, though now display an expulsion of air (or a spout) when they breathe. In oceanic ce the tropics river dolphins call home.

Unfortunately, the Yangtze river dolphins are considered the first cetace The only other two marine mammals to have gone extinct are the Carib Yangtze River is located in a densely populated area of China, and due t dents of the Yangtze were put under pressure. Industrial waste flows fre river’s fish stocks declining, leaving the dolphins with little prey to eat. G all baiji deaths in the 70s and 80s were attributed to bycatch.

Despite the many contributors to population decline, the main cause of began in 1994, displacing over one million people. The construction cau ment of the dolphins and other animals was restricted by its constructio navigate its surroundings and locate prey, which was confounded by the tion.

A scientific survey of the river in 2006, conducted by by The Institute of equipment yet yielded no sightings of the animal, and the baiji was decl agreed could be a surviving dolphin, though there have been no sightin to sustain the species.

ONTH 28| Seawords

The baiji is what’s known as a “relic species”, having been on earth for ov was the inspiration for the creation of a myth about a princess who drow marine conservation forever, standing as a testament to its importance.

Yangtze River Dolphin (Baiji) Scientific Name: Lipotes Vexillifer (“left-behind flag bearer”) Common Name: Baiji Range: Middle and Lower Yangtze River, China Diet: Fish Size: 7-8 feet long Status: Functionally Extinct

udent Coalition at UHM Member

med “the Goddess of the Yangtze” is one of the six contemporary freshwater dolphins to live on the planet. Though sped functionally extinct, meaning that although some individuals still survive in the wild they will likely not be enough cal characteristics, baiji’s and other river dolphins around the world do not belong to the same taxonomic family. Their Like other river dolphins, baijis have longer, narrower jaw and rostrums than their oceanic cousins which allow them us heads, little to no blubber, and are a generally smaller size than saltwater cetaceans. Living in similar environments nd very little visibility – has caused these species to evolve many similar characteristics. With no need for eyes in the ly blind. Full-grown baijis range from 7.5 feet for males to 8 feet for females. Baijis usually have a grey hide, with a lighter where near to the extent of the better-known Amazon river dolphin. River dolphins are also the only cetaceans that don’t etaceans, the spout is caused by the warm air in the whales’ lungs meeting the cold outside air, which does not occur in

ean species driven to extinction solely by man, and the third contemporary marine mammal to go extinct altogether. bbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) and the Japanese sea lion (Zalophus japonicas) in the mid-twentieth century. The to the country’s growing economy, local development has had devastating effects on the river dolphin and all the resieely into the river and a sharp increase in fishing likely caused the ecosystem to become disrupted. Overfishing led to the Getting entangled in fishermen’s nets as bycatch also greatly contributed to the baiji’s decline. It was estimated that half of

f the dolphin’s extinction was likely due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Construction of the immense dam used an increase in landslides in the area, and had an incredibly detrimental effect on the local ecosystem. The moveon, and its presence caused boat traffic levels to greatly increase. Being near blind, the baiji relied on sound and sonar to e noise pollution created by boats. This, along with their sudden habitat restriction, led to the animal’s eventual extinc-

f Hydrobiology in Wuhan, used hydrophones (a microphone used to detect sound underwater) and other scientific lared functionally extinct. A local fisherman videotaped a white creature in the river in 2007, which some researchers ngs since. Sadly, if there is a surviving population, most scientists believe that there would not be enough individuals left

ver twenty million years. Before their extinction, baiji were known as the “Goddess of the Yangtze,” in China. This belief wned and turned into the first dolphin. While this river goddess may be extinct, its legacy will remain in the world of .n NOVEMBER 2015  |29



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This cartoon was a catchy way to get people to join MOP back in 1982, but it’s still relevant today! If you have a passion for the ocean and enjoy writing, why not do both? The Marine Option Program monthly newsletter, Seawords, is a great way to inform the community on ocean topics, while also acquiring your own knowledge about the ocean! These topics could include anything! Did you go on a recent scuba diving trip and encounter a white tipped reef shark? Let everyone know how awesome it was! Have you noticed a growing problem with trash on Waikīkī Beach? Write about it! Do you just want to talk about your favorite marine creature? Go for it! Get your ideas and pictures published! So, what are you waiting for? Stop by the MOP office or e-mail the staff at!

If you are interested in submitting articles, photography, or art to Seawords, send us an email at with the subject line “Student submission.” We accept submissions year round. NOVEMBER 2015  |31

CALL TO ACTION Please check nearby coral reefs and report any signs of bleaching. Make an online report: Send photos to: Bleached coral (on right) next to normal coral (left) at Lanikai, O‘ahu on 9/23/2014 Photo credit: C. Hunter

Multiple reports of coral bleaching have recently been received through the Eyes of the Reef Network. ‘Bleaching’ is a coral stress response, in this case likely due to high temperatures. It describes the loss of color from coral tissue, which makes the coral appear white. Corals can recover from bleaching if temperatures return to a normal range. The peak bleaching season for the Pacific is July-- September.

More examples of coral bleaching:

Photo credit: J. Kenyon Photo credit: G. Aeby

Want to know more about the EOR Network or coral bleaching? Flyer created by and used with permission from: Eyes of the Reef 32| Seawords

Photo credit: Koa Matsuoka, former UHM MOP Student


Volume XXIX, Number 9, November 2015 Editor: Brijonnay Madrigal Advisor: Kathryn Lam Dr. Cynthia Hunter (éminence grise) Jeffery 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: <> Website: <> Seawords is the monthly newsletter of the Marine Option Program at the University of Hawai‘i. Opinions expressed herein are not necessariliy 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.

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November Photo credit: Allison Watts












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Veterans Day

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22 Sundays at the Bay Hanauma Bay 3 - 4 pm

29 Sundays at the Bay Hanauma Bay 3 - 4 pm



MOP & Community Events












21 Polynesian Voyaging Society Tour METC on Sand Island 8:45am-1:30pm




Thanksgiving (No School)

Next month: -Dec. 5: Dolphin QUEST Tour Dec. 10: Last Day of Instruction -Dec. 11: MOP Graduation -Dec. 14 - 18: Finals Week

NOVEMBER 2015窶ポ35

University of Hawai`i at Mト]oa Seawords, Marine Option Program College of Natural Sciences 2450 Campus Road, Dean Hall 105A Honolulu, HI 96822-2219 Address Service Requested

Thank you for reading!

November 2015 Seawords  
November 2015 Seawords  

The November 2015 issue of the Marine Option Program's newsletter, Seawords.