Every other year, biologists from the Seattle Aquarium go to Hawaii to collect new warm water animals for our exhibits. This blog post, is part one of a four-part blog series that will cover what it takes to put together a collection trip and highlight the biologists’ experiences.
Day 1 – Aug 17: At 7am, five of the six members of the 2011 Hawaii collecting team met at Sea–Tac Airport to begin the bi-annual, 17 day collecting effort for the Aquarium’s warm water exhibits. Andy Sim, Alan Tomita, Bryan McNeil, Kathryn Kegel, Nicole Killebrew and Roberta Brooks comprise the team (Nicole will be joining us on August 24). Arriving in Honolulu at noon (local time), the group mobilized to get the setup and staging tasks accomplished in order to begin collecting the next day. Two large vans were rented – the Cargo Van (C-Van) will be setup with coolers and oxygen to transport fish, the Passenger Van (P-Van) is used to transport the team and all their equipment.
Andy, Kathryn & Roberta in the P-Van made stops at Home Depot and Costco to pick up needed equipment and supplies. Bryan and Alan in the C-Van picked up the equipment (nets, coolers, shipping gear, etc.) that was shipped to Hawaii in advance. They also made stops at the Ocean Concepts Dive Shop to get additional equipment and the local gas supplier to get tanks of oxygen used to keep the fish healthy during transport. The Waikiki Aquarium is hosting our collected animals until we can ship them, so Alan and Bryan stopped at Waikiki to begin setting up the holding tank where we will take our collection at the end of each day. Everyone convened at the large house that was rented for the trip and began the setup effort. Tarps were secured in both vans (to protect them from salt water and sand). The oxygen tanks and delivery systems along with large coolers were installed in the C-Van.
All the equipment/supplies were unpacked and inspected and the dive/snorkel equipment was unloaded. We fixed dinner at the house and then spent the evening setting up and inspecting, organizing and stowing the gear that will be needed over the coming days. We ended our day around 10pm and tried to get some sleep in anticipation of a good collecting day tomorrow. Stay tuned!