Research Adventures in Maui

Our “urchin prison” setup

We’re back in Maui to check on experiments and collect data. This round, fellow labmate Clint Edwards  has joined me & it’s been a great adventure.  We’ve been working hard and playing hard.

We have an in situ (in the field) experiment that explore the rates and preferences of herbivorous sea urchins in Hawaii.



Our smorgasbord of algae

Why you ask? Urchins are important consumers of algae on tropical coral reefs.  Without urchins, algae may grow unchecked and smother the corals that build reef environments; and that’d be bad. We know urchins are important in general, but there are 6 common species of herbivorous urchins in Maui’s reefs and we’re trying to figure out whether they all serve the same functions or perform complementary functions in reef systems.

So, we collect them, use grazing assays or “urchin prisons” as Clint calls them, and provide a smorgasbord of algae to observe what and how fast they eat. Pretty simple concept, but not so easy to to execute as you can see.

 We also ventured out with a couple of cohorts, Don & Mark, to use UV lights to capture Fluoresceine die oozing from some previously labeled wastewater seeps.  We weren’t sure what we would find; and we were shocked to find an amazing psychedelic light show on the new moon.  In addition we were surrounded by a wonderful array of wildlife; most notably, a moray eel tearing into the flesh of a freshly-captured brown tang.


For the Maui nightlife, one might expect liquor, dancing, feasting, & light shows.  Well, we found liquid, dancing, feasting & light shows; albeit, all submarine.