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DLNR collects aquatic monitoring plates in Hawaii harbors to detect invasive species

ARMS stands for Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures.
ARMS stands for Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures.(Department of Land and Natural Resources)
Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 11:24 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an effort to detect foreign species brought into Hawaii harbors, crews from the Department of Land and Natural Resources began retrieving ARMS plates that have been anchored in the ocean since 2018.

ARMS stands for Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures.

DLNR said the ARMS plates soak in the water for several months and attract different types of organisms that settle on the plastic plates, such as worms, sponges, tunicates and seaweed. Biologists then look at these organisms to detect potential hitchhikers brought in by cargo ships.

Researchers said the goal of this project is to create a reference library of DNA to help identify possible invasive species that may come into Hawaii waters. They said the DNA will allow scientists to rapidly detect foreign species.

The ARMS soak in the water for several months and attract different types of organisms that...
The ARMS soak in the water for several months and attract different types of organisms that settle on the plastic plates, like worms, sponges, tunicates and seaweed.(Department of Land and Natural Resources)

A total of 20 ARMS have been deployed in harbors across the state, including Honolulu and Barbers Point Harbors on Oahu, Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai, Kahului Harbor on Maui, and Hilo Harbor on Hawaii Island.

“The reason we’re targeting harbors is because ballasts water and biofouling on the commercial shipping industry is thought to be one of the top vectors of invasive species introductions into the state,” said Natalie Dunn, Division of Aquatic Resources aquatic biologist.

“It’s really important that we understand what invasive species are present and where.”

The state said it hopes to retrieve all the plates by the end of 2022.

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