Environment

Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature. Using chemical information locked in organic skeletal layers, the team used these ancient deep corals as detailed recorders of changes at the base of the open Pacific food web over the last 1,000 years. This represents the first detailed biogeochemical records for the planet’s largest contiguous ecosystem. This type of sample is only available using deep-diving submersibles, such as those operated by HURL. [...]

‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

A new television show highlighting ocean and coastal scientists and cultural experts from Hawaii and the Pacific will debut on January 5, 2014. “Voice of the Sea” will be broadcast on on KVFE (Channel 5 and 1005) on Sundays at 6:00 p.m. The show is hosted by Dr. Kanesa Duncan Seraphin, world paddleboard champion, shark researcher, and science education expert. Dr. Seraphin, director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center of Excellence in Marine Science Education and associate professor at the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, has traveled across the Pacific to bring stories of relevance to Hawaii. Each half-hour episode profiles local science and cultural celebrities and presents thought-provoking information in an exciting, original, reality-based way. [...]

Tiger shark tracking program underway

In response to an uptick in the number of shark attacks recorded on Maui, the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is funding a study on the movements of tiger sharks caught and released around the Valley Isle. DLNR plans to use the results of the study to guide future decisions regarding management of shark populations in Hawaii. Lead scientists Drs. Carl Meyer and Kim Holland report that in late October, the shark research team caught and released the tiger sharks in waters off the south shore of Maui. Eight of these sharks were equipped with satellite transmitters to track their movements. [...]

World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick

A Laysan albatross known as “Wisdom” – believed to be at least 62 years old – has hatched a chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for the sixth consecutive year. Early morning on February 3, 2013, the still-wet chick was observed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary, who said the chick appears healthy. Wisdom was first banded in 1956, when she was incubating an egg in the same area of the refuge. She was at least five years old at the time. “Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species,” said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Monument), which includes Midway Atoll NWR. [...]

Navy powers up city’s largest solar facility

An official “Flip the Switch” ceremony and Hawaiian blessing was held today to mark the completion of more than 4,300 solar panels installed at the Pearl City Solar Energy Facility. Capable of generating 1.23 megawatts of electricity, it is now the newest and largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic project on O’ahu. This project marks the fourth utility-scale solar facility that developer Forest City Hawaii has completed in Honolulu, making it one of the largest renewable-energy developers and owners in the state. At today’s ceremony, Jennifer Sabas, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, praised the project’s vision, and Governor Neil Abercrombie commended the project for advancing the state’s clean energy goals. These sentiments were echoed by other event attendees, including Jerrod Schreck, president of Hoku Solar, and Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, chairman of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and chairman of American Savings Bank. [...]

HECO streamlines solar power installation requirements

It will now be faster and simpler for many residential and some small commercial customers to receive approval for on-site solar photovoltaic installations without worrying about the need for a possible interconnection study, Hawaiian Electric announced today. As of October 1, most residential and some commercial customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company can install certified single-phase PV systems up to 10 kW on single-phase transformers and participate in Net Energy Metering (NEM) with no interconnection study. In addition, any customer of the three companies who paid for an interconnection study and system upgrades to install a 10 kW or smaller single-phase PV system will be refunded the cost of the study and any upgrades. [...]

Isle startup aims to help utilities reward energy savings

Ikehu Naturals LLC, a Hawaii-based startup, recently won an award in a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The award was given for its Demand Response Incentive (DRIVE) system. The DRIVE technology gives power companies the ability to offer airline miles to their energy efficient customers. Ikehu said in a statement that it hopes the award generates interest by power companies around the world. “It’s an honor to be selected among the winners in such a prestigious competition” says Ikehu CEO and founder Holland Wood. “Soon, utilities will have the ability to use airline miles to guide consumers towards responsible energy use.” [...]

Waikiki Aquarium seeks kids’ YouTube videos

The Waikiki Aquarium has become a partner with Youth on Board, a collaborative project with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in California and Nausicaa Aquarium in Boulogne, France. The program encourages young people to tell others about the ocean near where they live in a humorous, one-minute video. Videos will be uploaded to the respective aquarium’s YouTube channel for the world to see. All videos will be entered into a contest and one will be selected at each partner aquarium as the Youth on Board Video of the year. Applications are due on April 20, 2012, with videos being due on May 24, 2012. “Our oceans are all interconnected and so it’s critical that we not only learn how to care for our own marine life but also learn about the marine life in other parts of the world,” said Aquarium Director Dr. Andrew Rossiter. “The Youth on Board program encourages youth to be inspired to take care of the ocean by learning about the diversity of marine species that call the ocean home. Our hope is that through the video-making process and viewing portion of this contest, the young people of our community will develop a deeply-rooted appreciation for our delicate ocean ecosystem.” [...]

Offshore Fish Farm Receives Key Permit

Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc. has been issued permit HI-0028140 in accordance with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 342D; and Hawaii Administrative Rules as administered by the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH). In a letter dated March 30, 2012, the DOH stated that it has “reviewed the (company’s) application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and that after consideration of the expressed views of all interested persons and agencies, pertinent Federal and State statutes and rules regarding the discharge, the DOH hereby issues the NPDES permit effective April 30, 2012.” This comprehensive process took the company more than a year of effort and required a thorough public review and response to comments from the public and several NGOs. [...]