Ka Makani in Vanuatu

On January 5, three HPA students, Lili Kosa ‘20, Malia McKendry ‘21, and Justus Benz ‘21, along with HPA faculty members, Marc Rice and Laura Jim, embarked upon HPA’s second research expedition to the Republic of Vanuatu.  As part of a three-year study the group placed a satellite tag on a post-nesting hawksbill turtle on Moso Island in order to foster a better understanding of the location of their forage grounds and regional connectivity.

Coordinates provided by the tag suggests that she, Pua Lilia, nested again on January 23 and, hopefully, will be departing Vanuatu soon. The previous year’s satellite-tagged turtles migrated to forage grounds in three different locations, New Caledonia, Northern Great Barrier Reef, and Southern Great Barrier Reef.  In addition to identifying the foraging grounds and migratory path of the turtles nesting in Vanuatu, HPA students helped to foster community awareness of sea turtle conservation issues and promote the continued study of sea turtles on Moso Island by Ni-Vanuatu.  The group participated in a workshop with the villagers of Tassiriki sharing the findings from the previous research trip, as well as the value of conservation.

When not working on the research project or village workshop, the students were able to explore the reefs off Moso Island, snorkeling amongst giant clams, sea anemones, and other marine organisms present in the Indopacific reef system. They also explored the island with a day hike, various SUP sessions, and a boat trip circumnavigating the entire island.

Results from the first year of the project will be presented at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Charleston, South Carolina in early February by Laura Jim and students Holly Hoffbauer ‘19 and Sara Thiel ‘20. The symposia’s theme, navigating the future, “challenges us to envision future conservation problems before they arise, acquaint ourselves with the emerging frontiers of sea turtle biology, and honor our covenant to the natural world by steering our way toward a bright future for sea turtles and humanity.”  Sara and Holly will present their findings in their poster “Post-Nesting Migrations of Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting at Moso Island, Republic of Vanuatu, as part of the Poster Session. The team looks forward to representing Hawaii Preparatory Academy on this global stage.