Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog 6b - Pearl and Hermes - Day 2, Part 2 - Fish Tagging

Christian Clark - "Our World Underwater" Scholar (Photos, Greg McFall - NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries)

Our trip to Pearl and Hermes Atoll marked the northernmost point of this expedition and was the first opportunity to catch and tag some of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument’s charismatic reef predators. The day was a mix of bottom-set long-line deployments, deep hand lining, and surface trolling with the aim of tagging Ulua (Giant Trevally) and Galapagos Sharks. Our surface trolling attempts proved ineffective at capturing our target species, so after hauling the long-line and deploying three pressure-sensitive ultrasonic transmitters in Galapagos sharks, we focused our efforts on hand lining. Our luck changed immediately as our first hand line brought up an Ulua, with more Ulua & Galapagos following from the deep reef ledge where we had been setting lines all day. Using a second hand line to maximize catch rates, it did not take long for us to collect tissue samples from, and deploy transmitters in eleven Ulua and seven Galapagos sharks.

Christian, James and Yannis tagging Galapagos Sharks

While tagging sharks and Ulua's is interesting, the overall goal of the project is to further understand the movements and habits of apex predators in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The use of ultrasonic transmitter tags allows us to track the local and broad scale movements of Ulua and Galapagos across atolls and along the island chain. Similarly, pressure-sensitive tags yield the same results while also helping us understand the vertical movements of target species through the water column. Analysis of genetic samples compliments the tracking data by demonstrating any hybridization of the gene pool and clarifying ecological connectivity between geographically separated populations. The stable isotope samples further emphasize both connectivity and species position in the food web, showing both what and where these reef predators are eating. In gaining this knowledge, the importance of each species in maintaining a delicate ecological balance is better understood and therefore helps us to preserve the unique ecosystem of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

James, Yannis and Christian tagging Ulua

For more in depth information on this study and other projects associated with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Shark Lab check us out at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blog 6a - Pearl and Hermes - Day 2, Part 1 - Coral Collection

Rick Klobuchar - Waikīkī Aquarium

I find myself aboard the NOAA vessel Hi‘ialakai traveling through the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument again, nearly a year after my first excursion to the Monument. Much seems the same. The friendly faces; much of the crew and many of the scientists are back again, each working on their own exciting projects. The daily routine; waking up to the pre-dawn hum of the crane motor as it slings cases of SCUBA cylinders from deck to deck in preparation for the day's dives, followed by the "rush" of pre-caffeinated, sleepy-eyed scientists to organize their separate piles of gear into less numerous, but much larger mounds of gear which eventually will leave standing room only on each of the support boats. Then a quick bite of breakfast and a splash of rich, black coffee which soon snaps everyone back to their senses. We have our pre-dive and boating safety meeting on the fantail of the ship as the coffee begins to settle in and life and energy slowly returns to those dreary eyes. Our support boats, Kaku, Rubber Duck, HI-1, and HI-2, one by one get lowered into place, SCUBA cylinders are loaded first, then dive bags, then cameras, coolers, water, collection gear, and finally scientists. The Hi‘ialakai makes its turn to smooth out the water beneath us for a calmer launch, we quickly lower into position, splash down, and release the hooks. Our journey on the water for the day has begun.

Dr. Rich Pyle with two Chevron butterflyfish
Photo Credit - Rob Whitton, Bishop Museum
While much is the same, much is different as well. Last year I found myself partnered up with renowned coral biologist Dr. Jim Maragos, formerly of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, aboard the smallest support boat HI-3. Our goal, to identify and collect coral fragments that are rare or absent from the Main Hawaiian Islands for the purpose of being displayed in the new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit at the University of Hawai‘i’s Waikīkī Aquarium. This year, I find myself aboard the second largest support boat, HI-2; tasked with a similar goal, but this time my mission involves the collection of both fish and coral for display within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit. To achieve this goal, I have enlisted the help of the Bishop Museum's finest ichthyologists (and if you didn’t know better, comedians) Dr. Rich Pyle, John Earle, and Rob Whitton, undoubtedly some of the best fish collectors in Hawai‘i, if not the world, to wrangle targeted fish while I focus more on identifying and collecting the targeted species of coral on our collection permit. Last year I was only able to hear the stories that came from the fish collections by Rich, some of which I find myself actually hearing for the first time on this trip now! Last year, Rich and I swapped places at Midway. I boarded the Hi‘ialakai after making the 6 hour flight from Honolulu to Midway, and Rich flew back to Honolulu from Midway with the prized fish catch in hand to be delivered to the Waikīkī Aquarium. This year, we are all on the cruise at the same time, and actually getting to see Rich, John, and Rob at work is something of a work of art. These are guys that love what they do, and while completely professional, I have found myself having to clear my mask several times from laughing so hard underwater. Only once have I seen Rich not get the fish he had his sights set on, and it sure wasn't for lack of trying. I believe our dive lasted approximately an hour and a half, and approximately an hour and twenty-seven minutes of it was spent watching this certain species toy with us in an epic game of underwater cat and mouse, where the mouse won. Good thing we have a couple more opportunities further down the chain!

Rick Klobuchar collecting a fragment of Leptastrea pruinosa coral
Photo Credit - Rob Whitton, Bishop Museum
Fortunately for me, the corals aren't quite as fast, though some have proved to be almost as elusive for various reasons. From changes in dive plans, to minor equipment malfunctions, something that sounds as simple as diving down and clipping a small branch of coral off of a large coral head, can certainly seem difficult at times. While we have been blessed with relatively calm conditions so far, currents, waves, surge, and turbidity can all make collecting coral fragments more challenging. Last year, the corals which we focused on collecting were the "common" uncommon corals. These were the ones which were easy to differentiate from one another, were easy to locate via previous GPS locations or by word of mouth from other scientists, and most importantly were not found or extremely "uncommon" to the Main Hawaiian Islands. These were corals such as the fuzzy polyped, large plating Table Corals, the brilliant blue and purple encrusting Lumpy Rice Coral, and other forms of green, brown, and cream colored branching Staghorn Coral. This year's collections are not so obvious. The slightest difference in branch formation and even just the texture of the coral skeleton can often be the only difference between collecting a coral that makes up ninety percent of the reefs around Oahu, or one that is only seen in the smallest patches on one or maybe two of the Main Hawaiian or Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Whereas many of the corals we collected last year were extremely plentiful, this year’s collection has me searching all the nooks and crannies, overhangs, shadows, and depths searching for sometimes even a single colony to take a small sample from. The collection process has slowed drastically this year for this very reason, but the end result will be the same...a successful collection trip.

Rick Klobuchar collecting Acropora valida coral

Klobuchar Transport Systems (KTS)

At the end of the day, the process starts back up again, same as last year. The boats are "picked" and scientists are unloaded. Gear is sterilized; samples and collected specimens are put away. Corals and fish are placed into their specialized holding system which I designed for transport aboard the ship. A former coworker deemed these systems "KTS 1 and 2", much easier than saying "Klobuchar Transport Systems." These systems have all the bells and whistles you would hope to have on your home or office aquarium…insulated coolers and chillers to maintain the cooler water temperatures, protein skimmers to remove fish and coral waste (yes, corals are animals and produce waste too), water pumps and aerators, and canister filters loaded with material to remove any other unknowns that may be in the water during the journey home.

A quick shower, then dinner is served. Then water quality tests, animal health inspections, and water changes are performed to maintain the highest water quality possible for our soon-to-be residents of the Waikīkī Aquarium. Dive logs and permit reports are updated; one last check of email, and finally it's time for bed and ready to start all over tomorrow.

Corals in KTS 1 suspended by
monofilament line to keep them from
rubbing on the bottom, allow for
better lighting and water circulation.
While some things have certainly changed, the goal of these collections remains the same. Last year, 100% of the fish Rich collected, and 100% of the corals I collected, survived from the time they were caught to the time they reached our quarantine systems back at the Waikīkī Aquarium several weeks later. Obviously, this is a goal I hope ends the same. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is a very unique and special place. It is special for its cultural significance, its history, its diversity of life within its vast expanse, and for these and many other reasons, it is protected and largely off limits except to those few who obtain the permits and permission to enter its boundaries. This also has not changed over the last year. I have been blessed with the opportunity to enter the Monument twice now, but the real blessing is being able to bring a small piece of the Monument back to the people and visitors of Hawai‘i for all to see and enjoy. The end goal of the Waikīkī Aquarium’s involvement in this cruise is not to just make another pretty fish tank, but to show everyone what it is that we are all protecting. It is hard to appreciate something without actually seeing it, and our end goal, after all the collections are done with, is to separate the public from the Monument by a mere two inches of clear acrylic, rather than hundreds of miles of ocean so they can see and appreciate the Monument for themselves!

Fish in KTS2.  Thompson's anthias, Chevron butterflyfish, and Crosshatch triggerfish

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blog 5 - Pearl and Hermes - Day 1

Dr. Kelly Gleason - Maritime Archaeologist – Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

In 2004, a team of NOAA National Marine Fishery Service, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (NMFS/CRED) divers searching for marine debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands came across an exciting find: the lost whaling ships Pearl and Hermes, for which Pearl and Hermes Atoll was named. NOAA maritime archaeologists conducted several field seasons of survey at the two sites, completing a thorough documentation of the two whaling shipwreck sites in 2008. Wrecked in 1822, The Pearl and the Hermes are to date, the oldest shipwreck sites discovered and documented in Hawaiian waters.

Oscar Valenzuela and Dr. Kelly Gleason surveying the wreck of the Pearl

The Pearl and the Hermes were two vessels of the British South Seas Whaling Industry heading from Honolulu to the newly discovered Japan Whaling Grounds just north west of Kure Atoll in 1822. At this time, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands were not very well charted. These low lying atolls were a navigational hazard to the numerous whaling vessels transiting further and further afield in the Pacific in search of whales and their oil. In the middle of the night in April of 1822, the Hermes ran aground first, and the Pearl ran aground shortly afterwards about 400 meters to the east. The men made their way to a small island inside the atoll, and set up a camp by salvaging provisions and wreckage from the two vessels. As they awaited rescue, the carpenter of the Hermes, James Robinson, supervised the building of a 30 foot schooner named the Deliverance that they planned to sail to Honolulu in search for rescue.

By the time the building of the Deliverance was complete, a passing vessel, the Earl of Morby picked up all survivors of the Pearl and Hermes shipwrecks. 12 sailors opted to remain behind, and sailed the Deliverance back to Honolulu. Once they arrived in Honolulu, James Robinson sold the Deliverance for $2000, which he used to start James Robinson Shipbuilding Company. He married into a Hawaiian family and became a prominent member of Hawaiian society.

Trypot from wreck of the Pearl
Though archaeological survey and documentation of the Pearl and Hermes shipwreck sites are complete, research and long term monitoring continue on an opportunistic basis as protection of these sites is a management priority. On September 13, I had the chance to return to the Pearl shipwreck site in the company of Kimi Werner, Kyle Nakamoto, Greg McFall and Oscar Valenzuela. Conveying the compelling shipwreck and survival story of the Pearl and the Hermes to new people is always an exciting experience. Kimi, Kyle and Oscar were new visitors to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the opportunity to share with them a bit of the rich seafaring and maritime history of the place was an honor. What fascinates me are the new things I notice at the shipwreck site every time I return. This season, sands had shifted a great deal and I was able to get new views of artifacts. The site consists of anchors, four large trypots (used for boiling whale blubber down to oil), cannon, bricks, a grinding stone (used to sharpen tools) and dozens of copper fasteners and sheathing tacks. Newly exposed artifacts glistened in the bright, shallow surge of the reef crest. I took advantage of the photographic expertise of Greg McFall and collected dozens of images that will help to further document the site and the way it changes seasonally. Like the many other times I have the honor to visit these sites, I am reminded of the way that these artifacts scattered on the seafloor are much more than just remnants of an unlucky ship, they are a window into the broader question about why we are all here, and the fascinating stories of seafaring that stretch back hundreds and thousands of years throughout the Pacific.

Pearl Gudgeon - a piece of the rudder

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blog 4 - Maro Reef

Greg McFall – NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Today we’re diving at Maro Reef. The reef was "discovered" (see previous comment on 'discovery' of reefs in the archipelago) in 1820 by Captain Joseph Allen who named it after the ship under his command at the time; the "Maro." Maro is the largest reef in Papahānaumokuākea, covering nearly 750 square miles but with nearly no emergent dry land. My dive buddies today are Dr. Kelly Gleason, Maritime Archaeologist for the Monument and Dr. Randy Kosaki who is the Deputy Superintendent of the Monument and serves as Chief Scientist for the cruise. As we descend through the clear blue water on our first dive site we see an underwater ridge at about one hundred and fifteen feet adjacent to a slope which rises at about a forty-five degree incline to about fifty feet. The rock which makes up the ridge is very old and there is quite a lot of coral cover on top. Randy and Kelly start their data transect to count fish species and to take pictures of the seafloor. I try to stay out of the way so as not to negatively influence their data collection.

Dr. Randy Kosaki conducting fish survey on Maro Reef 

If you’ve ever wondered what it must be like to be an alien on a different planet, you should try diving in a place as remote as this. While some creatures eschew your presence, others appear to be utterly fascinated with you being there. We dive into areas that most people have not seen and where most of the creatures living there have never encountered an organism like us. First of all, we must make a lot of noise in an otherwise relatively quiet environment; sure you hear the popping and clicking of the "snapping shrimp" and the occasional grunting from damselfishes but nothing can be as noisy as these "things" which produce bubbles. It’s odd that when you are diving you don’t really focus on listening to your own bubbles but listen to a few minutes of videotape and it’s all you hear. To the organisms that detect pressure changes very well, it must be rather obvious that we're in the area.

Dr. Randy Kosaki and a Spotted Moray
on Maro Reef
As scientists, we're always taught not to attribute human characteristics to non-human organisms (anthropomorphism) but one can't help wondering what they are thinking or how and why their behavior changes when they see you. We're often escorted to the bottom by Ulua (Giant Trevally) who must see us as the most awkward creatures to inhabit, if but for a brief period, the ocean. Compared to them we must seem incredibly slow and inefficient. There are typically Galapagos sharks in the vicinity which glide effortlessly through the water and come by to see if we might be something to augment or slake their hunger, that never turns out to be the case of course but you can't blame them for investigating as they never know from where their next good meal might come. They are so "good natured" that one might be enticed to say "they appear to be very well mannered and respect our presence" when in fact they don’t get to be big by being overly curious; inquisitiveness satisfied, they appear to be content to just accompany us and see what we might "scare up." Once we arrive at the seafloor, there are a host of other seemingly curious creatures alert to our presence. On this particular dive Randy was nearing the end of his transect, got my attention and started pointing excitedly at clump of coral. As I got closer, I saw the subject of his enthusiasm; a spotted moray eel was peering out of the coral. The eel sat there for about two minutes as Randy and I admired it and took a few pictures. It did not come all the way out of its hiding spot but just turned and looked at us both as if to say "I have no idea what you are but I've never seen anything like you in my life!" Later in the dive we encountered a large spiny lobster who had much the same reaction. It came right out from under its ledge to "sense" what we were with its long antennae; once it figured out we were not something good to eat nor did we provide any better habitat than that in which it currently resided, it returned to its ledge.

Lobster on Maro Reef
On the way back to the surface, escorted again by Ulua and Galapagos sharks, you can witness more curiosities if you are actively looking for them. The most conspicuous bird here appears to be the booby which will land in the water close to where the divers are surfacing and peer into the water seemingly to discern what we are doing down there. It is very amusing to observe from the surface (more so from below) as they will look underwater at the divers and the ascending bubbles and then look up at their cohorts as if to say "You’re not going to believe this!" and immediately look down in the water again as if they can't believe for themselves what they just witnessed. While I understand that these creatures are not here for our amusement one can't help but appreciate them not only for what they are but for what they mean and bring to us all in whatever form it comes; especially when what they do brings a smile to your face and if it means enough to imprint upon you a meaningful memory of the incredible creatures of this special place.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog 3 - Gardner Pinnacles

Greg McFall – NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

We arrived on glasslike seas this morning at Gardner Pinnacles, the third of five sites that we’ll visit on this cruise. The two pinnacles, one larger than the other, stand as testimony to time and resistance to the ravages of nature. These volcanically formed mounts of basalt are all that remain of what must, at one time, have been a very large island. Diving around Gardner Pinnacles can be a real challenge for anyone (like me) who doesn't typically have to deal with the strong currents and surge to which these pinnacles are constantly subject and in which the majority of my colleagues are completely comfortable diving.

Gardner Pinnacles
Photo Credit - Kimi Werner
Tony Montgomery outside a cave at Gardner Pinnacles
My dive buddy for the afternoon is Tony Montgomery from Ecological Services of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tony is a real pro at diving in these conditions and I take my cues from him as the dive progresses. The first thing which is abundantly clear is that you might as well embrace the energy of the hydrodynamic regime because there is no fighting it. At one point in the dive I saw a couple of eagle rays that were gracefully maintaining position in the current which swept by the south side of the island. I tried my best to swim against the current to catch up to them and take a picture but my efforts were futile; Tony would later both applaud and laugh at my attempt to fight the energy of the water surrounding the pinnacles. The other complicating factor was the surge. As oceanic swells impinge upon the pinnacles, they carry with them any passive particles, apparently including humans, which dare to venture into the water. I found myself being transported about six feet forward and then six feet back; not all that bad until you are four feet from a boulder moving rapidly forward with an expensive camera system in your hands. Luckily, I was prepared and avoided any potential impacts but it did make taking pictures incredibly challenging.

While the terrestrial portion of the pinnacles, on appearance, seemed to be devoid of life (notwithstanding the birds that roost here), underneath the waves it is a completely different story. There are fish of every ecological niche (role) imaginable; there are predators like Galapagos and Whitetip reef sharks, Ulua (Giant Trevally), algivores (algae eating fish) such as parrotfishes, knifejaws, surgeonfishes and damsels, corallivores (coral eating fish) such as butterflyfishes and the goatfishes who endlessly search for and eat organisms living in the sand. All this activity has fish of every color going everywhere all at once and whose movements are a coordinated balance between response to a neighboring fish’s escape from predation or an opportunity to dine on their victuals of choice. Add to this the panoply of color provided by the blue of the ocean, the brown, green, yellow, pink, red and purple corals and sponges and the scene becomes incredibly rife with visual appeal.

Goatfish at Gardner Pinnacles
Although we were invited aboard this cruise to serve as scientists to study, catalog and monitor the natural resources of Papahānaumokuākea, I find it extremely difficult to visit a place this energetic and lively without becoming a bit introspective and without beginning to question how one fits into the grand scheme of things. While some might simply say "you don't fit into it", from a natural perspective, maybe it's our responsibility to serve in some capacity as "protector" of these special places; to educate others and to foster development of a pragmatic sense of "guardianship" in people who may never be able to see for themselves how important these places are. Practitioners of Polynesian culture believe in ‘aumakua or benevolent-guardian ancestral spirits or protectors. While several of us on this trip clearly do not see ourselves as ancestral descendants of Polynesians, one of my Hawaiian friends reminds me that "we are all connected ancestrally." So if we’re all connected then it seems to make sense that we all have a shared responsibility to educate others about these incredible areas and to protect them for future generations. With all due respect, I’m not attempting to draw any comparisons between the deities of Polynesian culture and our admiration of and endeavors to be, protectors of these incredible resources but will just say that simply being here imbues one with a palpable sense of responsibility to mālama our kūpuna, that is, to respect and care for our elders. This respect applies not only to people but to the cultural resources and places that are so important to us all; fitting in this case, as these island 'elders' are amongst the geologically oldest in the Hawaiian archipelago. That they still thrive today is tribute to their strength and ability to endure whatever comes their way; an acceptance of what natural progression will bring.

I’ve heard it said that there is no such thing as a "bad" sunset in Papahānaumokuākea and tonight is certainly no exception. We sailed in on calm seas and we're sailing out in the same fashion. The colors of sunset tonight are compliment to the palate of color experienced underwater and we look forward to what tomorrow's explorations will bring at Maro Reef.

Papahānaumokuākea sunset

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blog 2 - French Frigate Shoals

Greg McFall – NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

After a slow start to the trip (we had to return to Honolulu for a couple of days) we're back out in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument; our first stop is French Frigate Shoals. French Frigate Shoals was named after Jean-François de La Pèrouse who nearly lost two of his frigates while sailing across the Pacific to the port of Macau. French Frigate Shoals is the largest atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago and the nearby La Pèrouse pinnacles are named after the Captain who “found” them. I use the term “found” in quotations because this atoll was undoubtedly discovered and used several hundreds of years prior by native Polynesian cultures; it is odd how we often use the word "discovered" or "found" as synonymous with "the rest of the world knowing about it." Surely the native peoples of this area could have told many stories of the atoll and how it was used both culturally and for subsistence on their many voyages of 'discovery.'

I had the honor of sailing to this area with the native Hawaiian Navigator, Nainoa Thompson, back in 2002. I’ll never forget all the information that he would provide about how the ancestors would navigate without the use of instrumentation by virtue of being truly "connected" with their environment. At risk of great oversimplification on my part, they 'knew' the habits of particular birds and sea creatures, they knew what different colored clouds meant in terms of proximity to particular atolls or islands and everything meant something; all were clues to where you were and where you needed to be. I smile and think of Nainoa every time I see green low-hanging clouds which are reflecting the color of the shallow water inside the lagoon (which can be seen from miles away) or when I see the ‘Iwa (frigate or "robber bird") which rarely ventures far from where they roost. Don’t get me wrong, technology is wonderful in so many ways but it saddens me a bit to realize just how disconnected we are from our environment as a result of it.

Dr. Carl Meyer
replacing an acoustic receiver.
Today, we dive on an area outside of the fringing reef known as "Rapture Reef" which is characterized by beautiful "table" coral. The coral starts as a very small single polyp and grows outward, continually branching to form a relatively flat surface under which many fish find refuge from predators which constantly search from above for their prey. My dive buddies today collected data on the numbers and types (species) of fish by counting them along a "transect" tape that is twenty-five meters (~75 feet) long. One buddy counted the fish while the other took pictures of the seafloor at random points along the transect. By collecting this data, year after year, scientists will gain a better understanding of how the populations and the seafloor organisms and habitat change (or remain the same) over time and how they compare to other islands in the archipelago. One scientist, Dr. Carl Meyer, has been tagging fish with acoustic "pingers" which indicate their presence or absence within the detection range of an acoustic receiver which has been placed in the sand at the reef. By using this technology, he will be able to determine how "resident" some of the fish are and how this reef is used by the fish which have been tagged. He was very excited to return to the surface with the receiver and find that there were over 5,000 detections.

Table coral and fishes at Rapture Reef in French Frigate Shoals

Tomorrow we sail for Gardner Pinnacles which will undoubtedly have more secrets to share on this "Monumental Voyage of Discovery."

A 'Monumental' Voyage - Discovering the Secrets of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Just northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands, lies a string of reefs and atolls appropriately named the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The area is home to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. With over 7,000 marine species, a quarter of which are found nowhere else on Earth, the monument remains protected and access is limited to visitors who mostly consist of scientist and biologist entering to conduct studies and learn more about the abundant marine life from one of the most remote areas on the planet.

Not a scientist? That’s ok! Follow our blog from Greg McFall who will chronicle the voyage of the Hi‘ ialakai. Not a scuba diver but still want to see the fishes? Come visit the Waikīkī Aquarium, home to the largest collection of fishes from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

About Greg McFall, Scientist, Diver
Greg is the Line Office Diving Officer (LODO) for the National Ocean Service (NOS) and Deputy Superintendent and Research Coordinator for Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Greg has been diving since the age of thirteen and has both Navy and commercial diving experience. He has been a tech diver for the past three years and has participated in seven technical diving expeditions. Greg has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from West Virginia University and received his Masters of Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). Prior to working with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Greg worked as Associate Science Director for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s National Undersea Research Center (NURC) and as the Laboratory Manager and Field Operations Coordinator with UNCW’s Chemical Ecology Laboratory.

About Papahānaumokuākea
The largest single area dedicated to conservation in the United States, and one of the largest in the world, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is home to over 7,000 marine species, a quarter of which are found nowhere else on Earth. In 2010, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was designated one of only 26 mixed UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, recognized for outstanding natural and cultural values and it is the only mixed status site in the U.S.