Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Coral Reefers in Australia!!!

Several months later . . .  As we are all completing and analyzing our research projects at Midway Atoll, our organization is not sending any researchers to Midway this year (unfortunately - we all miss it!).  Instead, most of us are currently presenting our research at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia ( 

Yesterday morning, I presented my findings on the abundance and genetic identity of pearl oysters at Midway Atoll (with a few surprises that resulted in gasps from the audience!) - "Pearl Oysters (Pinctada) of Midway Atoll (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands)."  Wendy also presented part of her Ph.D. research on "Algal growth and coral recruitment: distinguishing fish and urchin effects" yesterday afternoon. Tuesday, Don presented collaborative research from the International Ocean Drilling Program cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, in which he participated in 2010 and for which he has been analyzing samples ever since.  Our colleague, Jennifer O'Leary, who came to Midway in 2006, also presented a portion of her Ph.D. dissertation research on the coral reefs of Kenya on Monday.
Kristin, Jennifer, and Wendy meet Fred the Koala

In addition to presenting our research and attending many fascinating presentations, we've enjoyed meeting and networking with the other 2,000 scientists and managers from over 80 countries attending the conference!  We're also enjoying the opportunity to explore Australia, as this was Wendy and Jennifer's first visit (I spent 4 months in nearby Townsville during study abroad several years ago and Don is originally from Australia).  Wendy, Jennifer, and I, with other scientists we met, explored the Atherton Tablelands south of Cairns, where we saw a beautiful waterfall, a fascinating and ancient Cathedral Fig Tree, and wild platypuses!  We also took the Skyrail tour over the rainforest and enjoyed meeting koalas, wallabies (including one with a joey!), and many other Aussie animals in Kuranda.  After the conference, we're all planning dive trips to explore the Great Barrier Reef and I'm even traveling to West Australia to see Ningaloo Reef.
If you'd like to learn more about the conference, check out its website at  You can read and even sign the Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs, which we have all signed.  After the conference ends Friday, all abstracts and proceedings will be available online, as well as video of the fabulous plenary speakers.

For those of you in Hawaii, I'll also be presenting my own research and a summary of our lab's Midway research at the Hawaii Conservation Conference in Honolulu on August 1.

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