Dr. Isabella Abbott honored for lifetime devotion to coral reefs

Dr. Isabella Abbott
Dr. Isabella Abbott

By Cindy Cha - bio | email

KAILUA-KONA, Big Island (KHNL) - A group of people working to make a difference in the health of our coral reefs is honored at the 4th Annual Living Reef Awards.

Twelve people and organizations were nominated by community members. But one person who has devoted her entire life's work to coral reef conservation was honored in a big way.

She has spent her entire life, saving Hawaii's reef ecosystem. Now Dr. Isabella Abbott is being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor she says comes easily.

"A Lifetime Achievement Award is sort of a laugh as far as I'm concerned because I'm being awarded for something I've had a very long and happy life doing."

It was that long and happy involvement that continues to make a difference in our islands' coral reefs. Dr. Abbott, a University of Hawaii Professor continues researching and teaching though she's pushing 90.

For the past four years, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources has recognized people and groups who support Hawaii's living reef program.

This year's winners were:

Trilogy Excursions on Maui, Pacific Ocean Producers and United Fishing Agency on Oahu, Maui County International Year of the Reef Task Force, Sara Peck of the Big Island and Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii on Oahu.

As for Dr. Abbott, who has earned the title of "the world's foremost expert on limu," dedicating one's life to save another living organism is a lifetime achievement in itself.

"I want to recommend it as a way to spend your life because you're never under a rose bush or under a rock, you're always on top of a rose bush or top of the rock, you're just having such a great time."

Dr. Abbott has written more than 150 scientific publications and eight books. She was the first native Hawaiian woman to earn a PhD in science at UC Berkeley.