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Must-Read Pacific Islands Stories of 2023

December 29, 2023

Year in review: Find out which of our stories you read the most and which ones we highly recommend.

A person wearing scuba gear instructs two other divers as they use an adhesive applicator to affix corals to substrate underwater. Kuleana Coral Reef’s NOAA-sponsored training program instructs how to apply adhesive to a substrate to attach a rescued coral of opportunity (one that has detached from the reef). Credit: Blake Nowack/Kuleana Coral Reefs

We’ve shared many great stories throughout 2023. This includes a feature about the international efforts to research and protect leatherback turtles in the Pacific Ocean and a Q&A with our partner Conservation International about their exciting “zero-waste seafood” projects. 

Among all of these stories, these are the ones you’ve read the most.

Most-Read Stories

Left: A mom and pup monk seal rest on a sandy beach with waves lapping. Right: Pinkish-colored Euphyllia paradivisa coral under water in American Samoa.
Left: Up-and-coming monk seal matriarch RB00 with her pup RQ60. Credit: NOAA Fisheries. Right: Euphyllia paradivisa coral at Tutuila, American Samoa. Credit: Douglas Fenner

Meet Some of Our Hawaiian Monk Seal Matriarchs

Monk seal pupping dominated your interest in 2023, with several of your most-read stories focusing on this topic. This includes our stories about “monk seal matriarchs” (trailblazing female seals who have significantly helped build the seal population). You also read about RK96 giving birth (to a female) at the popular Kaimana Beach for the second time, and RJ58—the first seal born at Kaimana—giving birth for the first time.

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Rehabilitated Hawaiian Monk Seals Return to Kuaihelani

In 2023, you were also very interested in our efforts to save monk seals. Many of you devoured this feel-good story about three monk seals’ return to Midway Atoll after being treated for malnourishment.

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Meet Jennifer Schultes, Fisheries Observer

Aside from monk seals, you were fascinated with our amazing staff, in particular Jennifer Shultes. She holds the records for the most days at sea and longest time on the job for a female Pacific Islands observer. But Jennifer is not the only observer we featured in 2023. Don’t miss our Q&A with Joe Arceneaux, who was one of the first observers in our region, and Erin Smeltzer’s blog about observer “sea kits.”

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Enter our ESA@50 Ocean Art Contest!

Everyone loves art featuring protected marine life, and the response to this call for contest submissions is proof. K–12 students were invited to celebrate threatened and endangered marine species in the Pacific Islands region with our annual art contest. We were so blown away with the quality of submissions, and we are excited to announce the winners in January!

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Training Program Teaches How to Identify Indo-Pacific Corals

Lots of you wanted to learn about Indo-Pacific corals, which can be hard to tell apart. But that didn’t stop you from wanting to learn about them! If you haven’t already, sign up for our free workshops to learn how to identify coral species across the Pacific.

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And in case you missed them, here are other 2023 stories we highly recommend reading.

Editor's Choice

A person with a bright shirt ties a fishing lure. A giant manta ray swims in the water as sun shines down through the water's surface.
Left: Generational fisher Butch Farm explains how to choose the right lure for pelagic fishing. Credit: Pacific Islands Fisheries Group. Right: Reef manta ray visiting a reef in South Maui, Hawaiʻi. Credit: Hawaiʻi Association for Marine Education and Research/Mark Deakos

A Sampling of Aquaculture Projects in the U.S. Pacific

Over the last several years, we’ve funded a lot of cool aquaculture projects throughout the Pacific Islands region. This StoryMap highlights those projects, which includes efforts to raise Hawaiian kūmū in captivity and grow seaweed using aquaculture effluent (uneaten food and fish waste).

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Learn How to Fish From the Pros in Hawaiʻi

Looking to get into fishing but don’t know where to start? You’re in luck! Our partner the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group developed a short video series that taps fishing and boating experts to teach novice fishermen the ins and outs of fishing in Hawaiʻi.

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Local Talent and Indigenous Knowledge Key to Restoring Hawaiʻi Coral Reefs

Community involvement and local indigenous knowledge are critical to restoring the coral reefs of Hawaiʻi. With funding through NOAA’s underserved community grants, Kuleana Coral Reefs graduated their first cohort of local and Native Hawaiian ocean conservationists.

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Genetic Study Finds Reef Manta Rays Stay Close to Home

A new study reveals that reef manta rays in Hawaiʻi have small populations that are genetically distinct and vulnerable. They are strong swimmers and could easily travel to different islands. However, this study found that these reef manta rays stay close to home and rarely cross the deep channels between islands.

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New Hawaiian Language Video Series: He Moʻolelo ʻĪliokai

Part of a collaborative internship project with Kamehameha Schools and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, this three-part Hawaiian language-narrated video series explores the plight of the Hawaiian monk seal.

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Last updated by Pacific Islands Regional Office on January 02, 2024