For the past six weeks, my lab partner, professors, and I have gone to East Loch every Thursday to collect microscopic marine organisms whose common classification lies under “plankton.” One of the first things my professors had told us was that no one had published any documents on the marine life or food web of Pearl Harbor. That alone was a perplexing and an incredulous fact. By itself, that was hard to swallow, and it amazed me the first time we brought back a water sample concentrated with plankton to the lab. To imagine and see that there was life so small from Leeward Community College’s backyard was astonishing! After that, I looked forward to every meeting to come and see more plankton, and my professors were eager to answer any of the questions my lab partner and I had as best and thorough as they could.
This opportunity gives Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders a great chance to find a possible passion in the sciences, meet new people and make friends, have an in-field experience of collecting scientific data, and learn a little bit about the ancient Hawaiian culture. It also gave us an insight into what the scientific community is like and the wonders and joys of actually asking questions that drive our fundamental understanding of the natural world.
Kilo Aina not only showed us about the huge world of plankton, but it also made us ask some questions about the plankton themselves. Such as, what are the effects of the tides, runoff, pollution, the moon phases, and the presence of large marine predators do to plankton? What kind of stress do the plankton have from the unnatural strain we put onto Pearl Harbor? Does ocean acidification affect Pearl Harbor’s plankton currently? Perhaps one day, you will ask some of these questions through an in-field expedition just as we did, and perhaps you will be one of the first to answer these questions.