On August 8, 2009 until September 6, 2009 for a total of 30 sea days the NOAA ship Hi`ialakai will sail to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, with stops at Nihoa, Necker, Laysan, Pearl and Hermes, Kure, Midway, and Ka'ula Rock in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The scientific party will consist of personnel from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), State of Hawaii, the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), the Bishop Museum, and UNESCO.
The multidisciplinary expedition will include, SCUBA diver surveys for the purpose of sampling of coral communities for genetic diversity; apex predator tagging with acoustic transmitters; SCUBA and snorkeler collections of reef fish, corals, other invertebrates, and algae for population genetics analysis. These studies will allow Federal and State resource managers to better understand the resources under their jurisdictions.
The Expedition will also support SCUBA diver and ROV surveys to detect the presence of Alien Species with an emphasis on the snowflake coral (/Carijoa riseii/)/ /and a red algae (/Hypnea musciformis/).This work will assist Federal and State resource managers in better protecting, controlling, eradicating and prevent the introduction of Alien Species into the monument.
As part of the Monument's nomination for inscription to the World Heritage List, representatives from IUCN and ICOMOS will be participating on the first half of the cruise in order to become familiar with Papahānaumokuākea and experience some of the locations which highlight the criteria on which the area was nominated (archaeological sites on Nihoa and Mokumanamana; restoration efforts on Laysan and Kure; and the rich marine life at Pearl and Hermes). Activities will include going ashore at Nihoa and Mokumanamana, snorkeling and/or scuba diving, and interacting the researchers and personnel on the ship to gather information during the evaluation process. The evaluators will be escorted by Monument staff at all times, and will depart ship at Midway Atoll on August 21.
Two personnel and all necessary supplies will be transported to Mokumanamana for terrestrial archaeological fieldwork. The archaeologists will conduct terrestrial fieldwork while at Nihoa. The personnel and gear will be dropped off at Mokumanamana on August 11 (upon arrival at Mokumanamana), and picked up on the return trip on August 30.