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August 11th, 2008
HONOLULU, HI – A 29-day research expedition is underway in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument through Aug. 28, 2008. Maritime archeologists from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries will conduct survey work to identify and assess shipwreck sites for the purposes of management and preservation. The archeologists will be joined by cultural practitioners from Hawai‘i and researchers from the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology.
“These maritime archaeology surveys will provide information about the monument’s shipwrecks, contribute to historic preservation and highlight historic resources for public outreach,” said Kelly Gleason, monument maritime archeologist and chief scientist for the expedition.
In addition, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology scientists will study the genetic relationships of corals in the monument and will tag and release apex predators — primarily large jacks, snapper and sharks — to document patterns of space utilization in and between reefs. Two Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners will collect data for two projects using traditional ecological knowledge to determine a baseline of healthy coral reef ecosystems and to develop a moon calendar by making daily and nightly observations.
The public can follow this month-long mission on the monument’s Web site at www.papahanaumokuakea.gov. The researchers will be aboard the NOAA ship Hi‘ialakai and will make stops at French Frigate Shoals, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll, and Kure Atoll.
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is managed jointly by three co-trustees — the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior and state of Hawai‘i — and represents a cooperative conservation approach to protecting the entire ecosystem. The Monument area includes the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge/Battle of Midway National Memorial, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Kure Atoll Wildlife Sanctuary, and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands State Marine Refuge.
As part of the global campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of the coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, 2008 has been dedicated as the International Year of the Reef. Join Papahānaumokuākea in this worldwide celebration and learn more on how to care about your coral reefs at www.iyor-hawaii.org. For additional information on the monument, please visit www.papahanaumokuakea.gov.
Note to editors: Scientists will be available for interviews via phone or email throughout the expedition and upon return to Honolulu. To schedule an interview, contact Keeley Belva at 808-294-0932.