NOAA Fisheries Science Camp 2015

July 31, 2015
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Students review crittercam footage to observe monk seal aquatic behavior.
Students review crittercam footage to observe monk seal aquatic behavior.

In June, the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Region held a 4-day Science Camp at NOAA's Inouye Regional Center in Pearl Harbor, for the second year in a row. A total of 45 eighth grade students participated in learning and applying various research techniques used to study the marine environment and the organisms that live there. Staff from the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program conducted a monk seal foraging module where the campers were able to get a glimpse of how technology (National Geographic animal-borne-cameras-Crittercams) is being used to understand diet and feeding behavior of monk seals. Students worked in teams and reviewed Crittercam footage from seals that were instrumented in the main Hawaiian Islands. Teams recorded data on the frequency and duration the seal's various underwater behaviors, how many competitors (sharks and jacks-ulua) the seal encountered, and how many fish and other prey the seal encountered versus how many were captured/consumed. Campers discovered that seals weren't always active and would even sleep underwater for extended periods of time - in other words, science may at times be "boring". But that is a good lesson in itself! By the end of the session, campers came away with a greater understanding of monk seal biology and underwater behavior, and how technology can be used as a tool to answer scientific questions.