The NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette will leave Honolulu on August 6, 2022, to bring home remote protected species staff and field camps established in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. After missing the 2020 season due to COVID and a short one last year, 2022 felt more like past field camp seasons. Our biologists spent the last several months studying Hawaiian green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals at five field sites within the monument: Lalo (French Frigate Shoals), Kamole (Laysan Island), Kapou (Lisianski Island), Manawai (Pearl and Hermes Reef), and Hōlanikū (Kure Atoll).
During this mission, staff will transport any seals in need of care to partners at the Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola monk seal hospital in Kailua-Kona, HI and will also return any rehabilitated seals ready to go back to the wild.
This mission is a great opportunity to work with partners at the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. Four of their scientists will sail to Hōlanikū to continue working on the island and staff that spent the summer there will be picked up. The Sette will also stop and conduct seal and turtle surveys at Nihoa, Mokumanamana (Necker Island), and Midway.
We look forward to having our staff back with us, and you can bet they are looking forward to ice cream and a hot shower! As always—a huge thanks to our field camp biologists for conducting this critical work helping to save our endangered species.
Be sure to check back in September for an update on the field teams’ experiences this summer.