Exploring Coral Reef Biodiversity

The island of Oahu (Honolulu) offers an excellent opportunity to access and observe marine organisms across a gradient of environmental conditions, from shoreline to the subtidal. Because of its small size, Oahu also allows us to observe the influence of human development on the marine environment, and contrast these effects with relatively undisturbed coastline nearby. Our trip will focus on identifying, describing, and comparing marine species in coral reef environments. During this field trip, we will also have the opportunity to learn about human-made threats to these habitats and conservation and restoration initiatives from local marine research and conservation experts. Our day will start with a tour of the Waikiki Aquarium and an interactive presentation from Dr. Mark Hixon (University of Hawaii) on coral reef research and conservation in Hawaii. Following lunch, we will snorkel on coral reef habitats in Hanauma Bay State Park, where we will observe, record and compare the diversity of marine organisms found both above and below the tideline. We will also have the opportunity to meet officials from the State Park to discuss marine conservation issues and projects in Hanauma Bay.

Academic Objectives:
1. Observe and compare the biodiversity in marine habitats in Hawaii, from the shoreline to subtidal coral reef habitats, and the adaptations organisms to living in their environment.
2. Meet marine researchers and gain experience in field observation and data collection.
3. Develop and appreciation for the relationship between marine science and conservation of ocean species.