June 5 Meeting of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council 
to Feature Free Presentation on Carrying Capacity Study of Popular Oahu Snorkeling Site

When considering Maui’s most popular reefs, how many snorkelers are too many? What’s the impact of hundreds or possibly thousands of snorkelers per day at our reefs? How do we determine the right amount of snorkelers at our local reefs?

If you’ve wondered about the answers to these questions, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council invites you to a free talk that will share methodology and findings from a carrying capacity study of O‘ahu’s heavily visited Hanauma Bay by researchers from The Coral Reef Ecology Lab (CREL). The free presentation will take place at the Wednesday, June 5 meeting of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at The Sphere at Maui Ocean Center. Doors open at 5 pm. Seating is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve, visit https://bit.ly/snorkelers

The featured guest presenters will be Sarah Jane Leicht Severino, Research Associate, and Ku‘ulei Rodgers, PhD, Principal Investigator of The Coral Reef Ecology Lab (CREL) at the University of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology campus. They will speak about CREL’s Hanauma Bay Biological Carrying Capacity study, which quantifies the extent of human influence and determines the acceptable limits of disturbance to the marine resources of Hanauma Bay. For the past year, CREL has performed observational and manipulative experimentation within the Bay documenting the interactions between visitors and the marine environment as they relate to human use, coral tramping, sedimentation, and visual water clarity.

“The findings of the Hanauma Bay research should prove valuable in helping communities throughout Maui County evaluate the impacts of snorkelers at our popular reefs,” says Amy Hodges. “This talk is an excellent opportunity to explore how Maui County might most effectively answer the question of how many snorkelers — and under what circumstances — are too many snorkelers  at our local reefs?” 

About Dr. Ku’ulei Rodgers:

Dr. Ku‘ulei Rodgers has been working at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology’s (HIMB) Coral Reef Ecology Lab since 1992 under the direction of Drs. Paul Jokiel and Fenny Cox, as an HIMB faculty member since 2005 and as the Principal Investigator of the Coral Reef Ecology Lab since 2016. Over 100 of her articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals, published reports, and conference proceedings. She was in the top five most read PeerJ journal articles in 2017.

Since 2005, she has provided graduate advising, mentoring, and training for 15 graduate students, 40 undergraduates, interns, and technicians, and 2 post-docs. Ku‘ulei has been heavily involved as Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator or research assistant on 25 funded projects since her appointment, conducting research at sites on every island. She has secured funding through grants of over $3.5 million assisting in student support and research needs.

Many of her research projects are of an interdisciplinary nature involving close collaborations with over 20 UH researchers from the oceanography, engineering, and zoology departments and over 50 cooperative relationships with managers and scientists from federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private industry. Her research has been widely disseminated through extensive media coverage with well over 200 documented local television news interviews, newspaper articles, and media events, global webcast video coverage, national and international newspaper and web articles and radio interviews

Ku‘ulei was one of the co-founders along with Dr. Paul Jokiel, Dr. Eric Brown, and Will Smith of the ongoing Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program established in 1999 and continues to serve as PI along with the State Division of Aquatic Resources.

About Sarah Jane Leicht Severino:
Sarah Jane Leicht Severino earned her MS in Marine Science at Hawai‘i Pacific University (HPU) in 2015. For her master’s research she developed a technique, the Fluorescence Census Technique (FCT), that utilizes the natural fluorescent pigmentation found within some species of corals to non-destructively census their smallest size classes in-situ under daylight conditions.

After graduate school, Sarah worked as a First Mate on HPU’s Research Vessel, Kaholo, for two years. In addition to managing fieldwork on HPU’s Research Vessel, she was recruited by the Navy to manage field operations for a project studying the structure of marine resources within the main Pearl Harbor shipping channel.  The FCT was used in the Pearl Harbor shipping channel to quickly and accurately quantify the abundance and recruitment patterns of juvenile coral colonies on their natural reef substrate. 

Since starting in the Coral Reef Ecology Lab, Sarah has been working toward establishing a biological carrying capacity for Hanauma Bay Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD). By analyzing historical data and performing several field experiments, she seeks to quantify changes in the benthic community of reefs at Hanauma Bay in response to pressure from human use.

About Maui Nui Marine Resource Council:

Established in 2007, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council (MNMRC) is an award-winning nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization working for healthy coral reefs, clean ocean water and abundant native fish for the islands of Maui County.

During the past 11 years since our organization’s establishment, we have been based on Maui and have achieved recognition for working with our local community to create culturally appropriate, effective science-based solutions to serious local threats facing our reefs. Many problems facing Maui County’s local reefs originate on land, which is why our projects and programs are community-based and work from mountains (mauka) to sea (makai). To learn more, visit www.mauireefs.org.

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