Exciting research! From mid-April to the end of August I will be working with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program [HMSRP] in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands [NWHI] as an embedded member of one of their field camps for the 2016 field season. While we think of remote places like the middle of the Pacific ocean or the Antarctic as being void of humans, in fact these fragile ecosystems have been hugely impacted by people. This work is a continuation of my research on the effects of anthropogenic impact on fragile and remote ecosystems and what we are doing to help conserve and preserve the natural world.
The HMSRP will deploy 5 field camps this year to the NWHI, leaving April 17th from Ford Is. However, the work has started with one month of training and preparations in Honolulu. I'll be headed to Pearl and Hermes atoll with three other colleagues until the end of August when we'll be picked up by a NOAA research vessel and brought back to Pearl Harbor. With no infrastructure and about 1,200 miles from Honolulu, this is a remote field camp setting. Meaning we will be living in wall tents, have very limited access to the outside world and because there will be no re-supply, we will need to bring all food, water and other supplies with us. More information can be found here.
The Hawaiian monk seal [HMS] is endemic to Hawaii [found only in HI] and with only 1,272 remaining, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. The HMSRP has been working to help recover the HMS for about three decades and it is estimated that about 30% of the population is alive today because of their efforts. The HMSRP is the most proactive marine mammal recovery program on the planet and have a number of one-of-a-kind recovery activities including translocations and vaccinations.
While my primary role with the HMSRP will be assisting with population assessment and recovery activities benefitting the Hawaiian monk seal population, I will use the experience to inform a didactic body of work discussing remote field research and conservation in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. My interest in this research lies in the ideology that the dialogue between artists and scientists is imperative for a most informed and diversified understanding of life. With science far too often inaccessible and unattainable, the goal of this collaboration is to bring awareness to the plight of the Hawaiian monk seal and the effects of human impact and climate change on vulnerable ecosystems by propagating public interest through art.
I'll do a few updates before we leave for camp to show you how the preparations are going. The HMSRP also has a great FB page.
Be well and thank you for your continued support!