School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Coral bleaching video image

UH on the forefront of coral bleaching research

After the worst coral bleaching event ever recorded in Hawai‘i, scientists and researchers with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) are diligently monitoring and testing affected coral reefs in Kāne‘ohe Bay, along with other areas on O‘ahu, and parts of the NW Hawaiian islands. “A bleached coral can either recover or it will die,” said HIMB researcher Ruth Gates. “It is as simple as that and we really don’t know what that outcome is until months after that event.” HIMB researcher Courtney Couch adds, “[T]here’s evidence that suggests that [the events] are becoming more frequent and severe.” Learn more in this UH Mānoa video, and read about it on the UH News page.

Click on the preview image or the title to view the video in a pop-up window (you may need to turn off pop-up blockers). Please visit our video page to see more SOEST videos.

SOEST in the News

Image of North Kona coral Good, bad news about algae on coral communities

According to a study published recently in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society – Biological Sciences, just one-third of the coral reefs ecosystems in Hawai‘i are dominated by healthy corals and calcareous algae. The study also identified the key stressors of these reef systems, including declines in herbivorous fish abundance, ocean temperature, and pollution run-off from land. “While some algal cover is natural on Hawaiian reefs, it is unexpected to find that turf algae dominate more than half of all reefs we examined,” said lead author Jean-Baptiste Jouffray of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. Lisa Wedding, an HIMB grad student, is also a co-author.

Read more about in PhysOrg, West Hawaii Today, and Conservation International. Image courtesy of Kehau Springer/Conservation International.

Image of tagging shark Update on Hawai‘i tiger shark tracking research

Scientists tracking tiger sharks here in Hawai‘i will update the public with their findings as part of Waikiki Aquarium’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Thursday 20 November at 7 pm in the Mamiya Theatre on Waialae Avenue; admission is free. “I’m going to be providing update on that Maui project and revealing to the public for the first time some new tiger track shark tracks for animals that we’ve tagged around O‘ahu off the North Shore over the last few weeks,” said Carl Meyer, a Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher. Each shark is equipped with a tracking device to study its natural behavior and movement patterns around the islands with the goal of gaining a clearer understanding circumstances bringing sharks and humans in contact.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2; read about it at and UH System News (added 11-26-14) You can track the tagged animals online on PacIOOS’s Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking map. Image courtesy of KHON2.

Detail of evacuation zone graphic Hawai‘i plans for possibility of extreme tsunami

The City & County of Honolulu has updated its tsunami evacuation zone maps, adding a second extended zone in case of an extreme tsunami like the one that struck Kaua‘i about 500 years ago. “In any person’s lifetime there’s like a 5% chance this will happen, so it’s a low probability but it’s high enough that we cannot ignore it,” said Gerard Fryer, HIGP affiliate faculty and geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). ”As people look at the new evacuation maps they’ll see there's much more flooding. Then they’ll realize the power of one of these waves will potentially have a much greater effect on the islands than some of the events we've seen,“ said HIGP director Rhett Butler, the lead author of the “monster tsunami’  paper.

Read more about it and watch the videos at KITV4 (autoplays) and Hawaii News Now. Link to draft maps and schedule of events at which representatives from the city's Department of Emergency Management will be on hand to present the new maps, discuss the implications for O‘ahu residents, and answer questions. Also, read about the related archived news item “Evidence of ‘monster tsunami‘ found on Kaua‘i.” Image courtesy of Hawaii News Now; click on it to see the full version.

image of Hurricane Iniki over Kaua'i Hurricane season is 01 June thru 30 November

Track tropical storm and hurricane development and movement at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. The 2014 hurricane season begins on 01 June and ends on 30 November. To help you prepare for hurricanes (and other natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunami, and floods from other causes), the UH Sea Grant College Program’s Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards is available as a PDF or printed book. Keep track of weather conditions at the Hawai‘i Beach Hazard Forecast Site, the Meteorology Weather Server, and the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.

Please visit SOEST in the News: 2014 for archived news articles, with links to previous years.

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