Surf, sun and science on Coconut Island

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During a boat ride to Coconut Island recently, Sacred Hearts Academy’s Advanced Chemistry students enjoy a scenic morning on Kaneohe Bay. They are visiting the island, a research facility for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), as part of a class field trip.

Fresh off the boat, Academy juniors and seniors arrive to Coconut Island, ready for a day of science and discovery. The 19 students were selected by their teacher to take part in this off-campus experience.

A team of students measures fragments of shells and coral at the Coconut Island facility. The students (left to right)–senior Jennifer Ung and juniors Shannon Smith, Dorothy Sanidad, Julia Oehlers and Mindy Thai–used several varieties of coral. These varieties included lace and rice coral.

Senior Justine Kuna Sison weighs pieces of shells. This is in preparation to test out her hypothesis, which explores how the rising atmospheric temperatures affect ocean acidification.

(Left to right) Juniors Shannon Smith, Dorothy Sanidad, Julia Oehlers and Mindy Thai preparing to test their hypothesis and learn about the relationship between varying amounts of carbon and the ocean’s pH level.

Using pipettes, seniors Raelynn Chu, Samantha Ishihara and Zoierae Hill discover how ocean acidity affects coral. Chu is taken aback by how quickly the carbon deposits from the pipette, a tool she is using for the first time.

A live piece of coral that HIMB educators use to demonstrate the varying methods different species of coral use to eat.

These coconut palms give this island its notable name. Known as Moku o Lo’e, the marine research facility offers world-class lab, field and genetic facilities to educators and students; it also provides convenient access to a diverse range of marine environments.