hg overload!

visualData over the past 50 years shows that the mercury levels in ahi or Pacific yellowfin tuna, are globally increasing at 3.8% per year, quickly approaching levels that the EPA considers unsafe for human consumption.

This research suggests that mercury levels in open-ocean fish are consistent with increases in human-related inputs of mercury to the ocean.   The mercury is appearing far from point sources, such as industrial areas – it’s appearing in “pristine lakes” from Scandinavia to northeastern North America.  How does this happen?  Once emitted from natural or anthropogenic sources (ie. coal-burning power plants), mercury can travel as a gas around the globe before falling with precipitation or dust, polluting remote lakes and open ocean waters, where it is taken up by fish.

ahimercury (1)

The mercury absorbed by fish is called methylmercury, a form easily taken up by plant and animal cells but not easily eliminated.  Therefore, mercury becomes more concentrated with each step of the food chain.  That means the mercury levels in predatory fish, like ahi, can be upwards of a million times greater than the mercury levels in the water in which they swim.

The best solution to the problem is to control mercury emmissions at their source.  To learn more about how this happens visit the UN’s Environment Programme’s Minamata Convention on Mercury.

To read more click here.

it’s the journey not the destination

Last week Friday, Kalani and Kirsten shared their stories about their journeys into conservation with juniors and seniors at Waiʻanae High School.  The Kupu E2U program invited them to talk story with the students about how they became involved in conservation work, what the students can do to become involved now, and the cool jobs that conservation has to offer.

Waiʻanae High School has a unique curriculum, where juniors and seniors can choose a “pathway” (like natural resources, human resources, media and tech, etc.) to “major in”.  The students within each pathway study with the same teacher for four semesters, helping the students to build a stronger connection to their school community and motivate them to graduate and seek higher education.

The students that the fellows met with were in the natural resources pathway, particularly the agriculture and Hawaiian studies students.  Kalani and Kirsten had a blast with the students and after their presentations they got a tour of the awesome agriculture set up the students have in the back.  The students have a native plant propagation green house and a huge garden full of kalo, corn, and many other vegetables.  After all was said and done, Kalani and Kirsten got to enjoy sweet fresh (& certified organic!!!) corn from the student garden.


Hawai’i, though still gorgeous today, used to be full of unbelievable sceneries of rainforests and volcanic landscapes, all of which were home to hundreds of native and endemic species.  Possibly most renowned of these flora and fauna were the bird species, populations found only here in Hawai’i, iconic species like no other place on Earth.

Although there are several contributors to the decline in native bird population and diversity in Hawai’i, the increased populations of feral cats throughout the islands have contributed greatly.  It is unfortunate that these adorable, yet highly invasive species, have caused so much detriment to our island ecosystem.

As ocean lovers we may find the feral cat populations to be pesty but recent research has shown that a microscopic parasite, Toxoplama gondii, a parasite that can only reproduce in the digestive system of cats, may be contaminating our waters and infecting our marine life.  Infections may cause monk seals to have decreased immune system and/or brain function and even death.  Moreover, as for the human population, this also causes concern for our food safety, as terrestrial species may be ingesting the infected eggs from water sources and its prey.

To learn more and what you can do to help, visit the American Bird Conservancy.

calling all future conservationists!!!

Looking for an unforgettable & meaningful way to spend your summer?  If you are a college student or have recently graduated and have a deep interest in natural resource management, we have the perfect opportunity for you!!!

PC: David SlaterPC: David Slater





The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi is offering an unpaid six week summer internship program from June 22-July 31, 2015 in our Honolulu office.  You will get to experience & learn about:

  • The role of science and community engagement in marine & terrestrial conservation
  • Science-based initiatives & meet our community partners to see first-hand how we collaborate for effective management
  • Technology & innovation for conservation; including GPS/GIS/Google Map use, remote sensing, & in-the-field technology
  • Policy & Communications; including the legislative process, DLNR rule-making, & outreach
  • Fundraising & finance
  • Leadership & career development

Basic qualifications:

  1. Enrolled in or graduated from a college degree program in environmental studies, natural resource management, ecology, biology, geography or other related field, or in general liberal arts with a demonstrated interest in natural resource fields.
  2. Demonstrated commitment and dedication to conservation via efforts such as volunteer opportunities, school clubs, part-time jobs or weekend activities.
  3. Ability to operate basic computer programs (Microsoft Office, etc.)
  4. Experience in Hawaiʻi’s geographies and general knowledge of Hawaiian culture, including island ecosystem principles.
What’s the best part? You get to work right along side with we three marine fellows! 

To apply:

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to smarrs@tnc.org by 5:00PM on Friday, April 3, 2015. Your cover letter (not to exceed two pages) must address the following:

  1. State your current education level and how you meet the four basic qualifications listed above.
  2. Tell us about a previous internship, job, or team you were on, and what role you played as part of that team or group of colleagues.  What did you enjoy about being a member of that team or group?
  3. How do you think this internship will benefit you? How will you use it to benefit the world around you?


Remember that solar aerator we were building in winter-y storms before Christmas?  We deployed it this week! After much thinking, mulching, building, and waiting, one of the ponds at the loʻi is now being aerated.  As Brad once explained, its a very similar set up to what you might have in your home aquarium.  The bubbler supplies oxygen to the water and keeps the water moving, creating a much more aerobic environment.  Hopefully, over a short period of time, this will make the pond more inhabitable for āholehole and similar set ups can be used to aerate ʻauwai running into the loʻi kalo.


hoʻoulu ʻaina

Last week, the fellows along with Manuel & Korey, a UH Mānoa NREM grad student were privileged to get a peek inside the operations at Hoʻoulu ʻAina, the Kalihi Valley Nature Preserve managed by Kōkua Kalihi Valley (KKV).  Manuel, having a close relationship with this area stood as our tour guide, showing us the ins and outs of the valley and the land KKV mālamas.  Hoʻoulu ʻAina, a beautiful tucked away preserve located in the back of Kalihi Valley is home to many native plants and various gardens featuring plants grown for sustenance from many Pacific Islands.   KKV also offers many programs serving the Kalihi community to help promote sustainable well-being from Hoʻoulu ʻAina to medical services to bike repairs.

Mahalo nui to KKV & Manuel for showing us around!

To learn more about all the amazing things that KKV has to offer visit their website here.