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Students join expedition team near Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

HONOLULU— Four local Hawaiian community college, undergraduate, and graduate students have been selected to join an expedition on Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus to reveal seafloor formations and features in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Justin Shiffler II of Maui (recent graduate of the University of Portland), Keahelaumakanimaikahuaomali’o Silva of O‘ahu (student at Honolulu Community College), Darrian Muraoka of Kaua’i (student at University of Hawai‘i, Hilo), and Nai‘a Anderson of O‘ahu (University of Hawai‘i, Mano‘a) sailed on Aug. 19 for a 23-day research expedition aboard Ocean Exploration Trust‘s (OET) Exploration Vessel Nautilus.

The students were competitively selected from applicants across the state for their interest in ocean science, technology, and serving as role models for learners and communities in Hawai‘i and worldwide. Shiffler, Silva, Muraoka, and Anderson will sail as Seafloor Mapping Interns gaining hands-on professional experience in oceanography and building relationships with the realm of Papahanaumokuakea.

They will spend the next weeks learning to acquire, manage, and process seafloor mapping data to reveal seafloor landscapes like mountains and ridges under the ocean.

This expedition — Lu‘uaeaahikiikapapahaku‘iwawa — focuses on collecting high-resolution mapping data across unmapped deep water regions of PMNM. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area in the U.S. and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. This expedition will travel to the expanded boundary of PMNM north of Kamole (Laysan Island) focusing on areas prioritized by the federal NOAA mapping strategy and contributing to national and global campaigns to create a complete map of the ocean floor.

The expedition name Lu‘uaeaahikiikapapahaku‘iwawa was composed by members of the PMNM Cultural Working Group Nomenclature Subcommittee. Collaborative naming conversations led the hui to examine the multiple Hawaiian terms for sounds. “Wawa” (echo, sound of distant voices) is used to honor kupuna (ancestors) and the time spent together as we listened to the distant voices of those before us to create these names. “Haku‘i” and “wawa” are two sound-related terms that point to the mapping methods via sound. Learn more about the expedition name.

OET is working closely with PMNM collaborators to inform research priorities at sea, ensure culturally-grounded data collection protocols, and connect expeditions with local communities through ship-to-shore connections and the development of education resources in ‘Olelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language). all of these efforts support opportunities to work with Native Hawaiians and to perpetuate the cultural values, knowledge, and practices of their cultural heritage while advancing modern science and exploration together.

Schools, summer camps, community events, and families can follow the expedition to engage with Shiffler, Silva, Muraoka, and Anderson via, a 24-hour live streaming web portal bringing expeditions from the field to explorers on shore and via social media. Local schools and camps are encouraged to schedule free, live one-on-one Q&A sessions with the explorers on the ship in English, ‘Olelo Hawai‘i, or Spanish to learn about the latest discoveries and career pathways.

“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to motivate the next generation of explorers in STEAM fields,” said allison Fundis, OET’s Chief Operating Officer, “we are very excited to provide students with direct experience in ocean exploration while allowing them the opportunity to share that experience with their peers around the world.”

OET promotes science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) education around the world using the excitement of exploration and innovation to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The OET Science and Engineering Internship Program brings students and early career professionals studying ocean science, engineering, seafloor mapping, and maritime operations aboard E/V Nautilus providing professional training through at-sea field experience.
Source: The Garden Island

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