Thursday, April 21, 2016

Interview with Mike! PhD Student with University of Hawai'i - Research Associate Smithsonian Conservation

Meet Mike, he is a passionate PhD Student with a very important message about our coral and how successes can be measured as a species saved, an eco-system saved or human behaviors changed. Humans play the most important role in this urgent situation. We had the chance to chat with Mike, read the interview below! 

Mike. PhD Student with University of Hawaii - Research Associate Smithsonian Conservation 
 “Conservation means different things to different people. Any reason to conserve is an important reason. When we lose something from an eco-system, it is a detrimental loss to society."

“It is important to focus on small successes and the positive side to conservation because the negative is already widely known.” Kaneohe Bay is the perfect example of ocean recovery. Years ago the bay was in poor health; but efforts from the community slowly brought it back to better health.
Mike was very passionate about all environmental issues; from “a small piece of the rain forest being saved to an animal being reintroduced to an eco-system, any positive impact is a success to our environment.” 

We can change this urgent situation; it’s not too late if we can unite as a community. Our lives are connected to the ocean, even if we don’t know it!

What do you do at HIMB? How does your research affect the community?

Mike studies coral reproduction; the time of year they spawn and how this can be used to conserve the coral. Corals are the foundation for ocean health. According to Mike, “[coral] impacts, medicine, ecosystems, food, shoreline protection, economy and much more. In the last years there has been a significant decline in coral reefs all around the world. It's important to conserve what we have left and rebuild what we can.  It's in everybody's best interest, not just those who live close to the ocean.”

"Coral's are living animals, once they are gone from our ecosystem, they are gone." If we were to lose a specific type of coral reef that has the ability to cure a disease, they will be lost forever; along with the cure.

“I work to help my advisor, Dr. Mary Hagedorn, and our team to bank genetic material and chryo preserving so that there can be access to coral's genetics in the future.”  He strives to promote conservation; getting a single person to change their ways is a success in Mike’s eyes.  

“We can address this problem through changing the way we interact with the ocean. It is important to come together as a community; to bring awareness harmful practices and protecting certain areas of the island from over fishing or destructive practices.”

“Our interaction with the ocean is what will determine its health. Corals today are stressed, we see this through coral bleaching and sick corals. Our roles as humans are very important for the recovery of coral.”                                                                                                                                              

What is your end goal?
“My end goal is to understand the ecology and restoration of coral reefs, through natural and human causes.” He is interested in how a reef recovers; and how we can apply this information to help our everyday lives. Mike stresses the urgency of the situation we are in; but it is never too late to take action.

Most memorable experience to date?
Mike’s passion for coral started during a scuba diving trip in Mexico; he quickly change his area of focus from the study of reptiles to coral after discovering what seemed like an “entirely new world under water!”

“Seeing a coral spawn naturally was a truly amazing experience; it looked like it was snowing under water.”
Having access to the amazing coral at his fingertips, is one of Mike’s favorite things about HIMB. 

“The close proximity to the reef and lab facilities are ideal for my work. The biodiversity in Hawai'i is incredible.” 

Interviewed By: Miranda Chilelli

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