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Limu species from Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument named after conservation leader

  • COURTESY NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
                                Laura Kalaukapu Thompson

    COURTESY NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

    Laura Kalaukapu Thompson

  • COURTESY NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
                                Croisettea kalaukapuae

    COURTESY NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

    Croisettea kalaukapuae

A species of limu from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument has been named after a conservation leader and supporter of the monument being used a place to perpetuate Native Hawaiian cultural practices.

Scientists named the red algae species Croisettea kalaukapuae after Laura Kalaukapu Thompson, who was a founding member of the Reserve Advisory Council for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve that was established by former President Bill Clinton in 2000.

The council contributed to the protections established for Papahanaumokuakea when it became a monument in 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release today.

Thompson, known affectionately as “Aunty Laura” to friends and conservation colleagues, had also supported the use of the monument to support Native Hawaiians cultural practices and was an advocate for protecting all natural and cultural resources in Hawaii.

Thompson died at 95 years old in August 2020. Her Hawaiian middle name was given to her by her grandmother.

“What a joy and honor to name a new species after a beloved kupuna who made strides for the community to arrive in the present, celebrating 2022 as the Year of the Limu,” said Feresa Corazon Cabrera, the lead author of the scientific paper naming the algae species and University of Hawaii doctoral candidate at the School of Life Sciences.

The paper is called “Further studies on Hawaiian Kallymeniaceae (Rhodophyta) reveal pseudocryptic diversity in the genus Croisettea” and was published in the journal Phycologia.

The newly named species of algae was discovered by scientists in deep coral reefs, also known as “mesophotic coral ecosystems.” Scientists discovered the algae while diving around 300 feet in the virtually unexplored ecosystems in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, NOAA said.

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