ECRS: A Rainbow of Experiences

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by Austin Yeung 2017-12-17

Never have I thought that as a high schooler, would I be presenting at Oxford University to an audience of world renown researchers. It was never in my realm of possibilities before I decided to submit an abstract. But there I was, presenting my own research conducted in Palau. Original, unique data that only I had. I felt an immediate sense of gratification and appreciation for the opportunity after stepping into Oxford’s Examination hall. The lecture halls were grand, and I felt a sense of purpose just being present at the university. It is the oldest English-speaking university after all.

While being anxious before my talk, I felt an overwhelming wave of pride for offering the information I had with the scientific community. Coral reefs became a passion of mine after I received my scuba diving license, and I’ve loved the ocean ever since. The chance to make a contribution, regardless of its significance, was a once in a lifetime opportunity for any high school student. The talk was successful with an engaging audience asking questions, although I was advised not to jump to too many conclusions (haha).

Contine reading

Ecotourism in Palau

by Austin Yeung 2017-08-3

I’m back! and this time, I brought three friends of mine with me on a research expedition to Palau. William Huang, Nigel Yang, and Sebastian Charmot, along with myself from Shanghai American School (SAS) came to conduct independent research on eco-tourism in Palau. We visited U.S. Ambassador Amy Hyatt and USDA Officer Paul Lake at the U.S. Embassy in Koror. It was our first time in a U.S. Embassy on American soil in a foreign country!

With the help of Ambassador Hyatt and Mr. Lake, we met with a number of Palau government officials and interviewed them on environmental policies set in place – by the Palauan government – to conserve and preserve.  We explore, through inquiry-based learning and our own questionnaires, how  Palau can protect its conservation success, yet further its eco-tourism industry.

It has been a great experience for all of us. And I am glad I had the privilege and honor in leading this expedition.

 

SAS & HKU Learning Experience

by Austin Yeung 2017-07-28

Four Shanghai American Schoool high school students, including myself, collaborated with two researchers, Dr. Shelby McIlroy and Vicki Sheng, from The Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong, to conduct field research on the coral reefs in Palau.

Chasing Coral: A Documentary

by Austin Yeung 2017-07-15

Chasing Coral – A Documentary Film. This amazing new documentary on coral captures the beauty of the ocean and outlines the causes of worldwide bleaching.

Its emotional journey takes place in Hawaii and Australia, where reefs are hit by rising sea temperatures. Highly recommended.

Prof. Dave Baker

by Austin Yeung 2017-02-28

Professor David M. Baker from the University of Hong Kong Swire Institute of Marine Science will be visiting Shanghai American School (SAS) on March 9-10.

He will be giving lectures with SAS students, meeting with its faculty, and speaking on the topic of  “That Day … in the Life of A Marine Scientist.”  Please join us.  To view the poster of this presentation, click here.

 

Hawaii’s ban on “reef-unfriendly” sunscreen

by Austin Yeung 2017-02-06

Symbiosis Sea TurtleJanuary 20th, US Senator Will Espero proposed a bill banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate: chemicals that have been found to be harmful to Hawaii’s reefs. The ban, if successful, helps to protect Hawaiian reefs and maintain the heavy tourism economy the coral reefs attract. The ban has also been noticed by other regions that rely on reefs, including Palau and the British Virgin Islands.

Research in 2016 by the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Clifford, Virginia has found octinoxate to stunt the growth of baby corals and oxybenzone to be toxic. These chemicals have been found to cause coral bleaching in the lab as well as in the wild. Field data show that levels of oxybenzone contamination were at 4,000 parts per trillion (ppt) along the most popular beaches off the coast of Maui. With 9 million visitors a year, oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreen pollution pose a serious environmental hazard.

However, this bill is only a small step in protecting Hawaii’s reefs. Larger concerns of overfishing, coastal runoff, and pollution still pose serious concerns. We should take this step to help promote visitor awareness for Hawaii’s reefs.

To read more, click here.

Reef Encounter

by Austin Yeung 2017-01-03

Reef Encounter 30-2Post-truth

The latest issue, Volume 31, Number 2, of Reef Encounter, the news journal of the International Society of Reef Studies (ISRS), has been published.

To read more of this issue of the news journal, click here.

I’m also pleased to report that the ‘Reef Perspectives’ article I wrote on coral reef conservation was accepted for publication in this same Dec 2016 issue.

You can view my op-ed article:

Yeung AH (2016) Post-truth in reef conservation: changing the narrative to focus on people through education and social media. Reef Encounter 31-2: 27-31

as published here.

ICRS13 proceedings

by Austin Yeung 2016-12-30

The proceedings of ICRS13, the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, held in June 2016 at the Honolulu Convention Center, has now been published.

To learn more, click here to go to the ICRS13 proceedings page or download its table of contents here.

My paper with Prof. David M. Baker:

Session 80: A.H. Yeung, D.M. Baker (2016) A turnaround at Sanya National Coral Reef Nature Reserve?

Proc 13th Intl Coral Reef Symposium Honolulu: 561-580

can also be downloaded here.

Expedition to Palau

by Austin Yeung 2016-07-26

Six months and a few hundred diving photos later, I returned to Palau. This time, the purpose of travel was entirely different. Instead of vacationing in Palau, I was doing field work – coral experiments.  Marine biologist Prof. Palumbi and Megan Morikawa from Stanford University were doing baseline data collection in Palau. Amazingly, I was fortunate enough to be able to join them on this research expedition. Along with my friend Sebastian, another avid diver and photographer, I was introduced to sample and data collection in the ocean. By using data loggers, we recorded temperatures of the patch reefs in the area. A critical aspect of the experiment was to navigate the seas and find the locations at which the data loggers were first placed. I found this to be a very valuable learning experience as I was taught how to use a satellite GPS and use it to navigate the waters. It was fun, it was relaxing, and it was educational.

As you can imagine, doing research work in an environment like that of Palau, it’s hard not to become distracted by the beauty of the environment. With our underwater cameras, Sebastian and I were able to capture breathtaking photos of underwater life. On one particular occasion, Prof. Palumbi discovered a lionrock: a rock that sheltered lionfish. By using still shots with the GoPro, I was able to record the movements of a spectacular baby lionfish and its two parents. It’s the little things that we saw during our research expedition that really attracts me to this particular type of research. It’s the combination of seeing wildlife beauty and the research work around it that interests me. This is why I enjoy marine biology.