COSEE Island Earth Joins the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands 2012 RAMP Expedition - 08.01.2012

On August 1, 2012, the Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program embarked on a 24-day research expedition to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site aboard the NOAA ship Hiialakai. The scientific party consisted of staff from NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center-Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, the University of Hawaii, and Scripps Research Institute. Carlie Wiener, COSEE Island Earth program manager and Megan Onuma student and COSEE Island Earth employee joined the research group as the education team. The expedition visited French Frigate Shoals, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Reef, and Kure Atoll to conduct various activities, including: ecological assessments of reef fish, corals, other invertebrates, and algae; coral disease surveys to determine disease; bioerosion assessments to determine the growth and erosion of corals; and ecological acoustic monitoring using underwater instrumentation. Rapid ecological assessments have been conducted in the NWHI since 2000. Long-term monitoring of the abundance and distributions of reef fish, invertebrates, coral and algae are used to evaluate the status and trends of the health of these remote coral reef ecosystems. These activities improve our understanding of the region's marine systems and help us better manage the Monument.

In addition, the COSEE Island Earth education team documented the research activities to produce outreach materials and conducting ship-to-classroom 'ask a scientist' sessions via email with public and Hawaiian charter schools. This was a very successful expedition for the education team who was able to obtain footage of the unique flora and fauna found in this unique marine ecosystem, but also live time video and photo of scientists in the field, engaged with their research. Additionally, the education team conducted 25 interviews with scientists, crew and students, obtaining valuable information for the development of science curriculum and marine science career profiles. These interviews also resulted in science profiles that were posted on the blog website that followed the expedition, reporting updates every second or third day. Daily updates were also provided on the Monument Facebook page. Continually throughout the expedition the education team was in contact with ten public and charter schools across the state ranging from grades one through twelve answering live-time questions, and having the students follow the expedition online via the blog. Classroom visits to these participating groups will also be made this fall. Lastly, three radio shows were completed raising awareness about the RAMP 2012 expedition to the general public.

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