Malaysia creates large MPA in Sabah

by Alan Yeung  2016-06-04

Sabah announces a ‘huge’ marine protected area and shark sanctuary with over 1 million hectares covering the peninsula and 50 islands.  It is named Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) after the first official, and will officially be the biggest marine park and second largest coral reef reserve in Malaysia.

The outcome culminates over ten years of government, scientific, community, and nonprofit organization efforts.  The area is worth protecting because of its richness in biodiversity and its impact on local fisheries.

In a 2012 baseline study, Waheed et al. reported 49% of the hard coral cover in TMP, mostly fringing and patch reefs, are in good to excellent condition. Yet, only 7% of the surveyed reefs had 75% or more coverage. There is evidence of blast and poison fishing, but the damages, such as rubble fragments, appear to be old.  Overfishing also seems to be an issue as turtles, sharks and other high-value reef species are missing.

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Stanford president meets alumni in Shanghai

StanfordConnect_SH

by Alan Yeung  2016-03-12

Stanford president John Hennessey makes his final overseas stop of the global event tour, the Stanford+Connects Tour, in Shanghai, meeting and speaking with more than 300 alumni and friends at the Pudong Shangri-la Hotel on March 12, 2016.

This Shanghai event, like others in the Stanford+Connects series, brought some of the very best of Stanford to speak and share ideas with alumni, who came to Shanghai from all over Asia Pacific.

Three Stanford deans, Persis Drell of the School of Engineering, Garth Saloner of the Graduate School of Business, and M. Elizabeth Magill of the Law School, took part in panel discussions with the Stanford+Connects audience about instilling entrepreneurship at each school, and how innovation and creativity are taught and pursued at higher education.

Bill Newsome, Monica Lam, Mike McFaul, Josh Freedman, and J. Christian Gerdes gave micro-lectures at the event.  Many Stanford Connectors, especially board members of Stanford Club of Shanghai, contributed to the event.

Palau approves new massive marine reserve

Palau Rock Islands

by Alan Yeung 2015-10-27

On Thursday Palau’s Congress approved the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act, making good on a pledge made by President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. in 2014, for Palau to protect 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers), or 80 percent of the Pacific island nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), or the territorial waters that it controls.

The new sanctuary will exclude all extractive activities, such as mining, and industrial-scale fishing and exports of catches.

President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. indicated he would sign the measure into law as soon as posssible, thus establishing Palau as one of the world’s leading nations in marine conservation.  Palau now leads the world in terms of setting aside the highest percentage of its EEZ for full marine protection.

According to NGS  Palau is host to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral.

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Steve Palumbi visits HKU

Stanford marine scientist visits the University of Hong Kong

by TNP Editor 2015-10-7

In a lagoon around Ofu, an island in the South Pacific, marine biologist Steve Palumbi is snorkeling. Here, the sea temperature is much warmer, and Steve could stay in all day. While warm water is good for humans it is not so good for corals. With the heat, these corals shouldn’t have lived. Instead, they are thriving, and Steve wants to know why.

Through DNA analysis, Steve discovers that these corals survive by changing their gene expression. That, according to Steve, may offer hope for corals here and elsewhere to withstand the impact of climate change.

As Professor of Biology and Director of Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University, Steve has been advancing marine sciences, protecting natural resources, and educating and raising awareness for conservation.

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An internship at SWIMS

My summer internship at SWIMS

Austin at SWIMS 2015by Austin Yeung 2015-08-13

Just had an exciting ‘two-week’ summer internship at The Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) in Hong Kong.  Many thanks to Prof. Baker for allowing me to be in his lab – which is really ‘everywhere’ — from the work bench within SWIMS at Cape D’Aguilar, where I got to work with Phil to quantify photo effects on coral/algae symbiosis, to ‘sitting in’ on department seminars with the folks from the Baker Lab on the HKU main campus, to ‘exploring and snorkeling’ Lantau and Nine Pins Islands, where Nico led us in surveying and collecting coral specimens for “paleoecological studies.”

Exciting projects and truly fun and smart people!  I learned a lot.

pH, nitrate and phosphate levels in Hong Kong Waters

by Austin Yeung 2015-08-09

Recently, with the help of my father, I collected water samples from Kaneoke Bay, Hawaii and various parts of Hong Kong.  My goal is to compare the pH, nitrate and phosphate levels of these sea water samples, using aquarium-type test agents purchased from the aquarium store in Hong Kong.

The results are interesting.  The Shek O sample has highest pH whereas the Kaneohe Bay sample has medium pH and the Gold Coast sample has the lowest pH value. For phosphate, the Kaneohe Bay sample has the lowest reading, whereas the Gold Coast sample again has the highest.

Summer course at HIMB

by Austin Yeung 2015-07-24

I had a blast with my marine biology class at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), a world-renowned research institute at the University of Hawai’i (UH) at Manoa, this summer.

Located on Moku o Lo’e (Coconut Island) in Kane‘ohe Bay, HIMB is the only marine research facilities that are built on a coral reef and an island by itself.  It provides excellent research and learning opportunities located just 15 miles from the main UH campus and downtown Honolulu.

I took this marine science summer course in July, 2015 at HIMB on Coconut Island. It’s a one week course, with a class of 20 high school students. If interested in more, please view my video.

Wonderful experience!

‘Plastic bag ban’ in Hawaii

by Alan Yeung 2015-07-07

In Hawaii, residents are responding and adjusting to a state-wide ban on plastic bags that went into effect on July 1.  During this inaugural week, while the jury is still out on its impact, environmentalists are keeping up the pressure on retailers, criticizing and wondering why so many are still being given out at local grocery checkout stands.

Plastic bag in Kaneohe BayBeach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (B.E.A.C.H.) voiced its concern that the ban was having little effects on reducing litter on beaches. It surveyed the trash left behind at Ala Moana Beach Park on Sunday, July 5, and found plastic bags littered everywhere.

The new law exempts plastic checkout bags from takeout food, drinks and bakery goods. The so-called re-usable bags already thrown away shows that most consumers are not keeping them for reuse. People are treating the thick plastic bags the same as the disposable plastic bags like before.

Why ban plastic bags?

Because they seem to find their way to the coastal waters and the oceans in garbage patches.  Besides their impact on sustainability, plastic bags adversely affect wild lives such as sea turtles and birds, making them susceptible to being caught and trapped, or they inject these plastic substances and became ill.

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Climate change “El Niño”

el nino

Courtesy: http://www.denizbilimi.com

by Austin Yeung 2015-06-13

El Niño, ‘the Christ Child’, was first named by fishermen in Peru during Christmas when they noticed unusual warm currents affecting the Pacific coastline of South America. It is an anomaly – a prolonged warming of the central and east-central Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures (SST).

El Niños often happen in intervals between two to seven years, and last nine months to two years. When this El Niño warming happens for only a brief 7-9 months, it is classified as an El Niño “condition,” whereas when the El Niño period lasts longer, it is known as an “episode.”

Coral reefs, rainforests of the oceans, are susceptible to coral bleaching as a result of high water temperatures.  Bleaching occurs when coral tissues expel algae, known as zooxanthellae, that reside in the coral, and die.  The entire coral reef then turns white as if it were bleached.  That’s why coral scientists pay attention to such ocean warming events as El Niño.

Currently, NOAA just declared that the most recent El Niño commenced in March 2015. The latest forecast showed a 90% chance of the El Niño continuing in the fall and an 85% chance into winter of 2015/16. Many anticipated a stronger El Niño since the 1998 El Niño occurrence. With an increase of 4°C in SST, the 1998 happening of the El Niño undersizes the current El Niño, which saw a greater than 1.9°C SST. Although this is not a weak El Niño appearance, it is not a strong one either.

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Coral gardening

by TNP Editor  2015-06-04

Coral gardening is defined as the cultivation of coral for commercial purposes or for coral reef restoration.  Until recently, coral gardening or aquaculture has been driven by the live and ornamental coral trade and the supply to aquariums and zoos for public exhibits.  Lately, coral aquaculture, or coral farming, has seen a renewed interest by researchers and resource managers as part of an integrated solution to coral reef restoration.

Increasingly, coral is “cultivated” by locals, who live close to the reef, for income; by scientists for research; and by hobbyists as well as vacationers for conservation and eco-tourism. These efforts are happening in Fiji, Dominican Republic, Maldives and many other locations in the tropics.

Here is a good example of coral gardening and reef restoration efforts – at Fiji, courtesy of BBC South Pacific.

 

 

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