C-MORE Scholars’ Projects: Fall 2016–Spring 2017


photo of Bernardo Vargas-Angel and Nalani Kito-Ho Nalani Kito-Ho
Global Environmental Science, UH Mānoa

“Analysis of benthic imagery to monitor status and trends in coral reef community structure in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument””
Mentor: Bernardo Vargas-Angel

My project involves the identification of major marine invertebrate faunal and floral elements in the US Pacific Remote Islands (PRIA). I will conduct analysis of benthic images from the PRIA, implementing computer vision software to extract estimates of benthic cover at variable levels of taxonomic resolution. The benthic cover estimates derived from this analysis will provide island and sub-island estimates for different benthic taxa including hard corals, algae, coralline algae, and other sessile invertebrates. These data will be used to quantitatively describe the composition of the benthos island-wide, and potentially identify any spatial patterns in composition that may respond to ecological drivers such as exposure, depth, and time.

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photo of Honour Booth (l) and Mackenzie Manning (r) Honour Booth
Global Environmental Science, UH Mānoa

“Assessing the Sunscreen Sheen: Determining the presence of four organic UV-filters from four sites at the Hanauma Bay Marine Life Conservation District“
Mentor: Mackenzie Manning

With the myriad of threats posed to coral reefs around the world, it is important to minimize stressors caused by human action. UV-filters, the active ingredients in commercial sunscreens, are known to cause mutation and mortality in larval and mature corals. Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area home to native coral reef that experiences an average of 3000 visitors a day, many of whom use the aforementioned sunscreen products. The purpose of this study is to determine the concentrations of oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate and octocrylene, four UV-filters commonly used in commercial sunscreens, in the waters of Hanauma Bay. Surface samples will be collected from four points along a shore to reef transect every 6 hours from 0600–2400 for a three-day period, Monday–Wednesday. These samples will be processed using glass fibre filtration and reverse-phase solid phase extraction, then analyzed using quadrupole time-of-flight liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. The resulting data will determine whether these UV-filters are present in the water at Hanauma Bay, how their concentrations change from shore to reef, how fast the concentrations decrease after a day of no human impact when the Bay is closed on Tuesday and how quickly concentrations increase when reopened on Wednesday. With this information, entrance of these harmful chemicals can be mitigated so that Bay can continue to thrive and be enjoyed by the millions that flock to visit it each year.

photo of Tracy Wiegner (l) and Jazmine Panelo (r) Jazmine Panelo
Marine Science and Environmental Science, UH Hilo

“Investigating Potential Sources of S. aureus and MRSA in the Hilo Bay Watershed”
Mentor: Tracy Wiegner

Staphylococcus aureus and Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are pathogenic bacteria that are a human health threat in coastal recreational waters. However, abundance of S. aureus and MRSA in coastal waters are not well characterized. Studies have shown that groundwater and river discharge can influence their abundance coastal waters. These findings suggest there are watershed sources of these pathogens, but they have not been identified yet. The aim of this study is to quantify the abundance of S. aureus and MRSA in potential watershed reservoirs with Hilo Bay’s watershed on Hawai‘i Island. River and groundwater, sand, soil, and sewage samples will be collected from this watershed to determine possible environmental sources of S. aureus and MRSA to the waterbody during low and high river flow conditions. Information on possible watershed sources of S. aureus and MRSA will allow the Hilo community to take precautions when using the water, and hopefully, reduce their threat of infection. In addition, identified areas of high S. aureus and MRSA concentrations will provide watershed managers in Hawaii and elsewhere with critical information about watershed reservoirs, allowing them to take appropriate actions for reducing abundance of these pathogens in coastal waters.

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photo of Mikayla Jones (l) and Tracy Wiegner (r) Mikayla Jones
Marine Science & Biology; Minor: Chemistry, UH Hilo

“Epidemiologic survey of Staphylococcus aureus and Methillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Hilo Bay, Hawai'i, USA”
Mentor: Tracy Wiegner

Marine-born pathogen infection costs the United States Healthcare System over $900 million annually with $300 million towards gastrointestinal infections from beach recreation (Goodwin et al. 2012). In addition, the rise of skin and soft tissue infections from methillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other drug resistant infections places an addition $5 billion burden (Jarvis et al. 2007 and Goodwin et al. 2012). Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) naturally lives on the skin and in the nasal passages of 20-40% of people (Goodwin et al. 2012). In addition, in subtropical climates, like Hawai‘i, S. aureus occurs naturally in soils where there is a high concentration of bacteria in fresh water streams (Halliday and Gast 2011). With high amounts of naturally occurring S. aureus and MRSA in soils and freshwater streams there is a larger risk of infection for recreational beach goers as concentrations of S. aureus and MRSA continue to increase. Also since S. aureus naturally occurs on the skin and nasal passage there is natural shedding of S. aureus and MRSA into the water column during marine activities. This produced a strong correlation between the concentration of S. aureus and beach goer density (Goodwin et al. 2012, Enns et al. 2012, Halliday and Gast 2011 and Goodwin and Pobuda 2009). This is especially important for Hilo Bay, Hawai‘i, where there is a high amount of freshwater input due to the Wailuku and Wailoa River. In addition, marine activities such as surfing, paddleing, paddle boarding, swimming and beach bathing are highly prevalent. The goal of this project is to evaluate via survey the Hilo Bay water activity groups and determine if S. aureus or MRSA infection has occurred, when and the weather conditions. This is will help to verify sampled water column and sand data to determine if when concentrations of S. aureus are high do they correlate with the number of infections. This project has four main objectives, 1) Determine via epidemiologist, sociologist and psychologist input on how to create a worthwhile survey to produce statistically manipulative data, 2) create and write up a survey and go through the appropriate training and approval process, 3) Conduct the survey at four different locations, which target different water activity groups, such as Honoli‘i for surfers, Bay Front for Paddlers and Paddle boarders, Pui and Richardsons for local beach goers, 4) Analyze and present said data with the hope of having an additional community outreach component, 5) Analyze data input from the Infection Division of Hilo Hospital for real-time S. aureus or MRSA infections.

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