by Jessie Williams
As we continue further into our trip on Oahu with Ocean Matters, the journey never stops. On Wednesday, we visited the Marine Mammal’s Pen, which featured Kina, the only false killer whale in captivity. Kina was a delight to meet and showed her broad array of amazing tricks. We also got to meet another marine mammal, BJ. This bottle-nosed dolphin was very happy to see us and her trainer. BJ also showed us some of her skills, and reminded us how hard work really does pay off when she received her delicious treat of fish. The marine mammals are used for bioacoustics research, and amazingly have been shown to be able to shut down their hearing when confronted with loud noises, leading to promising experiments with creating warning signals before loud noises are made in the ocean. Meeting Kina and BJ was a truly unique experience that none of us ever had, or ever will, experience again.
We also learned about the importance of coral, as a keystone species of the coral reef. Here in the islands of Hawaii, the coral reefs are important to the economy and well being of the islands. Compared to many other coastlines, the reefs in Hawaii are doing very well, although they continue to decline in health. After learning about coral disease, we saw a new beauty in the reefs we saw while diving. I, personally, noticed a huge difference between the reefs where I live in Florida and the reefs in Hawaii. The beauty of the Hawaiian waters truly stand out compared to those around Florida.
Our seahorse research is also going well! In our followup data collection this morning we again found 5 seahorses. However hard they are to find, they are worth the search!