Saturday, November 28, 2015         

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Student cruise offers lessons on ocean life

Youths spend a day aboard a NOAA ship learning about careers in marine research

By Rosemarie Bernardo


The 224-foot research vessel Oscar Elton Sette took students on an educational cruise yesterday outside Honolulu Harbor, teaching them about marine mammals, plankton and water quality testing.

Kai Kanekuni, an 11th-grader at the Academy of the Pacific, said the cruise made him want to be a marine biologist.

"It inspired me big time," Kanekuni said.

Twenty-nine middle and high school students from Kamehameha Schools, Waipahu High School, Farrington High School and the Academy of the Pacific thinking of careers in marine research spent the day on the ship, one of three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessels based at Ford Island. They are used to conduct research throughout the Pacific.

The ship traveled throughout the state this week. More than 150 students and teachers from Oahu, Kauai, Molokai and Maui took turns learning about marine research.

Since 2005 the research vessel has designated a week out of the year so students can learn what type of work the crew and scientists do. Monk seal research, marine debris removal work to reduce the threat to marine life and collecting oceanographic data are among the work. The Sette is the primary vessel that supports the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center's projects.

"We want to find the next generation of marine scientists and stewards of the environment. This is a good opportunity to talk to kids who are getting ready to decide what they want to do with their lives and show them that, hey, this is an option," said Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Dreflak, the vessel's commanding officer.

NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary conducted the educational cruise.


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