Hawaiian Green Turtle Research Focuses on the Main Hawaiian Islands
During March 2010, the PIFSC Marine Turtle Research Program (MTRP) hosted a colleague from the University of British Columbia, PhD student Colette Wabnitz. A key chapter in Colette's dissertation involves the application of ECOPATH ecosystem modeling to estimate the carrying capacity of Kaloko-Honokohau, on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, for algae-foraging green turtles. Kaloko-Honokohau is a long-term study site of MRTP. During her visit, Colette met with various PIFSC staff to discuss possible future ecosystem modeling projects and visited several study sites on the Big Island accompanied by PIFSC scientists Stacy Hargrove, Jeffrey Polovina, and George Balazs. Colette also presented results of her research at a PIFSC seminar, showing that green turtles at Kaloko-Honokohau are presently at carrying capacity of the habitat. Funding for Colette's Hawaii research is provided by PIFSC turtle research programs by way of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Florida at Gainesville. Colette's dissertation committee advisers include Drs. Karen Bjorndal and Alan Bolten of the University of Florida.
In addition to the Big Island activities, MTRP researchers were busy with field work on Oahu involving the ocean capture, examination and tagging of green turtles at the long-term study site of Kawainui in Kailua Bay. Miniature Lotek archival dive recorders were attached for testing purposes to three turtles already bearing sonic tags. Altogether, nineteen turtles were captured during the study and all were in reasonably good body condition with no or low tumor affliction.
The experimental archival tag attachments were in support of research by a new Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) graduate student, Devon Francke. David Hyrenbach of HPU is Devon's dissertation committee chairperson.