Scientists share knowledge of the sea with Lanai students

Published: Dec. 3, 2008 at 3:57 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2008 at 6:10 PM HST
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Ricky Sabino
Ricky Sabino
Malia Rivera
Malia Rivera
John Gransbury
John Gransbury

By Howard Dashefsky - bio | email

LANAI (KHNL) - Marine biologists get a first-hand look at Lanai's Manele Bay marine conservation district.

What they learn, will be passed on, to keep the bay and other marine areas pristine.

"Of course we know that reefs surround our islands but what are reefs?"

At a Career Day at Lanai High, scientists from the Institute of Marine Biology share their love and knowledge of the sea.

All in hopes of inspiring the next generation of caretakers.

"At first I thought it was just coral, but then I found out some was artificial reef and was dead. But the coral reefs were living and I didn't know that so it kind of made me realize and think about it," said Lanai High School junior Ricky Sabino.

Of course for all the lessons learned on land, this is the ultimate classroom.

Through photographs and videos the scientists will create a baseline to measure the marine conservation district over time.

And they'll develop a lesson plan to share with others.

"Our main target is the students and and it's really a great learning opportunity to compare sights that are protected versus some that may not be on this island," said Malia Rivera of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

"We try to use this as training opportunities for students and get them to appreciate conservation and their marine environment in areas that are familiar to them because they are in their own back yard so they have a special passion to protect them," said Rivera.

Rivera says people are gaining a better understanding of how human interaction affects the undersea world.

And at Manele Bay, the message is being spread at the point of entry.

"Believe it or not the oils from your fingers actually block up little coral pollups and that stops it from growing," said John Gransbury of Four Season Manele Bay. "'Obviously we work in conjunction with NOAA in terms of educating and ensuring the guests are aware. As you are aware this is the international year of the coral reef and so were very big on protecting the reef, the marine mammals and all the wildlife that's here.'

From the curious snorkler, to the informed scientist, the key to preserving this, and all other undersea areas is education.

Which brings it full circle back to the classroom, where teaching remains mission number one for the Institute of Marine Biology.

"I think slowly but surely it's starting to resonate with students and public alike. We've only started our program two years ago so we have a long road ahead of us but I'm really confident we'll see bring changes in the next five to ten years," said Rivera.