I just completed a whirlwind four-day research trip to collect data and put in new hardware for an experiment that’s been on-going off West Maui for the last two years. Check out the photos taken during data collection and after setting up the new shiny green chicken wire cages that are at Airport Beach / Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area. You can find them on the reef in 25 feet of water and the different cage designs reflect the different herbivores (or seaweed-eaters) that can graze inside during this experiment. Some of the cages allow herbivorous fish to graze, some allow urchins, some allow both, and some allow neither.
The goal of the Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (put into place by the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources in 2009 to protect herbivores from fishing) is to see more herbivores on the reef so that they will reduce algae cover and increase coral cover. With a little help from a couple rolls of chicken wire, the data from this experiment tell us how these different algae-grazers are affecting the coral reef community.
Mahalo nui loa to friend of the lab Mark Miller for generously volunteering his time as a field assistant this week!