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Monk Seal Crittercam Talk Story Session on Monday

Community Contributed

By Charles Littnan, Lead Scientist, Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program NOAA Fisheries Service

A team of biologists, NGOs, filmmakers, and community members are developing a new research project to use National Geographic Crittercams to build on existing knowledge of the feeding behavior, diet, and habitat use of monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands.

To discuss the project with Molokai residents, there will be a talk story session at Mitchell Pauole Center this Monday, July 16, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

A monk seal with an old camera system; the new ones are much smaller.

The cameras, which are attached to seals for short periods, were a valuable scientific tool used to understand some of the factors contributing to the species decline in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Now these cameras will be used with seals in the main Hawaiian Islands, where this collaboration will use footage to gain greater insight into the ecology and behavior of seals to help develop solutions for managers, fishermen, ocean-users and seals alike.

The project, known as Ho`ike a Maka, is being developed to have a large amount of community involvement in all phases of the project including project development, fieldwork, and video review. By getting stakeholders more involved the team hopes to create a more transparent and effective research process that builds trust for the future.

The Ho`ike a Maka project also wants to encourage and help develop the next generation of Hawaii’s research and conservation biologists to help understand, protect and manage Hawaii’s natural resources into the future. Each year the team will be selecting two Hawaii high school students that have a strong interest in science and/or conservation as a future career to come into the field and participate in the research and collaborate with video analysis. The project also wants to find ways to engage local high schools across the islands.

This is a unique opportunity for students to witness Hawaii marine mammal research and conservation firsthand. Students will be selected through an essay writing competition.

The first community meeting for the team to discuss the project and get input on how to improve the study, engage the community, and encourage student involvement will happen next week in a talk story session in Kaunakakai.

Monk Seal Crittercam Talk Story Session
Mitchell Pauole Community Center
Monday, July 16
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. (or longer if needed)


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