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Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site

Intertidal Monitoring Cruise aboard Motor Vessel SEARCHER

Preliminary Scope of Work

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Monument), Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, is supporting a 12 day cruise to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) for the purpose of conducting both cultural and western scientific research activities within the intertidal zone (rocky shoreline) of the following basaltic islands and atolls:  Nihoa Island, Necker (Mokumanamana) Island, French Frigate Shoals (La Perouse Pinnacles), and Gardner Pinnacles. 

Four permits have been approved for these activities which include observation, monitoring and collection activities around the accessible shorelines of the aforementioned islands and atolls for all intertidal species including fish, invertebrates, and algae; operation of SEARCHER and associated tenders; authorization to anchor the vessel at approved sites; and collection of Hyposmocoma moths on all the islands with an approved Monument (FWS) escort.  In addition, weather observations and collection and consumption of a limited amount of intertidal invertebrates and algae would be conducted.  This project would be conducted in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology and involve limited collection of specimens at each island / atoll area.  In addition, the Monument Chief Scientist will serve as the Monument (FWS) – approved escort for two (2) field personnel conducting collections of Hyposmocoma moths on all the islands. 

In addition to monitoring and collection activities, limited swimming and snorkeling activities would be conducted as appropriate to monitor the shallow water subtidal zones within each monitoring transect as weather conditions allow.

The draft itinerary consists of approximately one to three (1 – 3) days at each island / atoll area stopping at French Frigate Shoals, Mokumanamana (Necker) Island, and Nihoa.  The draft itinerary would be flexible to accommodate weather conditions if wind, swell or a combination of both are less than ideal, the Chief Scientist, in consultation with SEARCHER would discuss the possibility of moving to the next island / atoll area to continue monitoring work.


Objectives of this cruise are:

  1. Intertidal Transects:  Conduct intertidal monitoring activities on all basaltic islands consisting  of counting fish, invertebrates, and algae through conducting / laying at least 20 belt transects per island located randomly at sites selected based on access, safety and weather conditions.  Transects would be laid perpendicular to the shoreline (mauka to makai), spanning at least the first and last invertebrate on shore and subtidal.  Colored cable ties would mark zone boundaries and all fish, algae, coral and invertebrates would be counted by size class within each boundary. 

  1. Collection Activities:  Collection of pinches of turf algae observed along transects for sorting and identification activities in the HIMB lab, collection of ‘opihi for cross-fertilization, RAD-tag, and DNA sequencing, collection of tissue biopsies, and walking leg of crabs for genetic connectivity studies.  Collection of limited amounts of invertebrates and algae for consumption.

  1. Weather Observation Activities:  Record weather and species interaction information through photographs and wet / dry notes.

  1. Collection of Hyposmocoma moths:One (1) personnel and a Monument (FWS) – approved escort (Johnson) will hike on Nihoa and Mokumanamana in designated areas necessary to hand collect Hyposmocoma moth larvae and juveniles;

Transport of food, equipment and mail to FFS:  SEARCHER will carry TBD to FFS.  Fish and Wildlife Service staff will meet SEARCHER at its anchorage off LaPerouse Pinnacle and transfer the food, equipment and mail to their small boat

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