Seattle Aquarium staff members recently traveled to Hawaii to complete their sixth year of monitoring reef fish abundance off the northwest coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The non-invasive monitoring is performed via video sampling done in cooperation with the Washington State University and the Hawaii Department of Aquatic Resources. “We’re searching for shifting baselines, an ecological indicator of changes in fish abundance and diversity that may correlate with local environmental changes or other factors such as changes in human use activities,” notes Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson. Data has already been used for educational and management purposes in Hawaii.
Below are Shawn’s notes from the third day of the trip.
Day 3: February 6, 2014
On the third day on the island we headed north about 20 miles to Mahukona, where we have two research sites in areas open to all fishing methods and aquarium collecting. The swell was high again and the sky overcast, so we waited until the ocean calmed a bit and the clouds parted so it wouldn’t be too dark on our underwater surveys.
We were able to survey both sites although the large swells made the visibility less than optimal. We did, however, still see plenty of fish with lots of butterflies and goats. Later in the afternoon we tried to survey our last research site—the end of the road in Puako—but the swell was just too big to get out. We will have to try that site tomorrow.