“Never turn your back on Mother Ocean”
Growing up, my mom and dad imparted this saying as both a practical reminder to respect the power of the ocean as well as to imbue in me a deep admiration for the ocean environment and all the organisms that call it home. This passion and respect for marine ecosystems drove me to pursue a degree in biology from Berkeley took me across the Pacific to Hawaii where I recently completed a master’s program at the University of Hawaii, exploring the importance of nearshore marine habitats as important nursery grounds for juvenile resource fish species. Hawaii is such a unique place to live and learn, particularly because there is so much to learn from the beautiful tradition of community stewardship of marine resources and the connection of people to the sea. I am elated to be a part of the Marine Fellowship Program, and grateful to The Nature Conservancy, NOAA’s Pacific Services Center and the Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation for the opportunity to participate, hands-on, in current programs aimed at conserving Hawaii’s valuable natural resources. As one of the most isolated island systems in the world, Hawaiian ecosystems are reliant on a delicate balance of ecosystem health to persist. And, with an ever changing landscape of human population and associated impacts, it is imperative that we address questions concerning the health of these coastal ecosystems and the ways in which humans can act to protect the integrity and future resiliency of these systems. Through this fellowship experience with The Nature Conservancy, I hope to gain experience engaging the community in a search for sustainable solutions concerning the marine environment. It is my personal goal to conduct sound ecological research on nearshore food fishes, pursuant to the needs of stakeholders for whom these resources matter. What exactly this breaks down into, you will have to follow along on our journey to find out!