Know Your Ocean: Molokini During COVID-19: A Look at Research Conducted at the Island During Height of the Pandemic

At the height of the pandemic, when no one was visiting Molokini, a small team of scientists had the opportunity to study the wildlife at the crater. And their findings are eye-opening. Led by Maui resident Russell Sparks, Aquatic Biologist, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources on Maui, a small team of scientists with expertise in coral reef ecology and animal movement studies in the Hawaiian Islands studied the ecosystem at Molokini for a little over a full year: from a period of COVID-19 pandemic shut down in April 2020, to a period of moderate activity resumption in November 2020 and into a full return of tourism in May of 2021.

The team includes Alan Friedlander, Chief Scientist, Pristine Seas, National Geographic Society, and a researcher at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology. Friedlander has studied Molokini extensively for nearly two decades and is the co-author of five research publications on Molokini conducted in collaboration with the Maui Division of Aquatic Resources. Other members include Kevin Weng, Associate Professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Whitney Goodell, National Geographic Fellow and marine ecologist with the Fisheries Ecology Research Lab, University of Hawaiʻi, and Laura Gajdzik, scientist at the Division of Aquatic Resources.

Click on the video below to watch the presentation.

You can read the final publication that resulted from this study here:


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