We had a wonderful Volunteer Appreciation Dinner last night, complete with a Kane'ohe blessing of rain - lots of rain at times.
To start the event, Leon Weaver led a snorkel off of the swim beach for the more ambitious, where they encountered cornetfish, Hawaiian dascyllus and many other fishes and corals. Vicki, who got there late, was rewarded by finding a seahorse. Some of the snorkel crowd had interactive experiences with the somewhat rare in KBay, Portuguese man-of-war, but survived non-the-less.
They came up to the Beach House damp from the water and rain in time for dinner and a talk by Jamie Sziklay from Megan Donahue's Lab.
Jamie talked about her research on coral disease tracking changes in the natural fluorescence of the corals and their symbionts the zooxanthellae with the confocal microscope here at HIMB. Basically, corals and zooxanthellae naturally fluoresce. Put them under a scanning laser microscope (the confocal scope) and they show off an incredible range of colors. Stress a coral, via disease or otherwise, and the pattern of fluorescent colors change as the stress or disease progresses. Great talk, very interesting, lots of good questions - we have to do this more often!
Dinner was via Pah Ke's restaurant and the various wonderful side dishes the volunteers brought. I don't think anyone went away hungry.
Really, the most important aspect of all of this was - and is - the wonderful volunteers and interns we have here at the institute. They give tours, run labs, pick up folks via our boats, do coral breakage surveys, help with overnights, any time any day, they are here. They provide great science and history experiences for schoolchildren to adults - positive science experiences that many of these folks will never forget. I truly think that they are changing the world, starting right here at Moku o Lo'e.