Our last dive at Kahekili was in October and Levi Lewis (photo on right holding his cool new helmet cam) and I, both PhD students at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, are thrilled to be back on the reef again so soon. What a difference 3.5 months makes! Of course, the swell is more than when we were last on the reef – as we collected data today, we both zoomed back and forth a few feet over the experimental plots we were working on. But from an ecological perspective, it’s neat to already see differences in the abundance and presence of different species of limu in the winter as compared to the summer and fall. For example, some really prolific and fluffy limu just aren’t around right now.
- This is just one example of the seasonal variation in reef characteristics we’re researching this month to provide us with insights into how the algae, coral, fish, and urchins are all interacting on the reef. It’s these interactions that result in the structure we see when we go out for a snorkel/swim/dive and determine how healthy the reef is. I’ll keep you posted on how this month goes! It’s an exciting time to be working at KHFMA as we have high hopes for what this management could mean for the health of the reef. That’s also, of course, why Makai Watch is so key here- to be sure that everyone’s aware of this unique management (the first of its kind in the world!) and what it can mean for the health of Kahekili now and in the future.
Levi and I will see you on the reef throughout February! and then I’ll be back again this summer for another three-month stint (3rd year in a row!) to continue to gather data on the fine-scale processes at KHFMA and reefs around Maui in collaboration with the DAR and UH.
See you at Kahekili!