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Ceremonies mark UH Hilo Marine Option - NOAA partnership

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Date: Thursday, October 9, 2008
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Mr. George Balazs, NOAA. Photo by John Coney.

Commemoration ceremonies were held recently at Punaluʻu Bay on the south coast of the Big Island marking 25 years of cooperative efforts between the Marine Option Program (MOP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and George Balazs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Research activities have involved numerous faculty and staff, and over 2,000 students from UH Hilo, who have worked with Balazs in his effort to learn more about the diet and movements of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Hawaiian waters. Much of that research has taken place at Punaluʻu Bay, known as a particularly rich area for the study of sea turtles.

Participating in the event were UH Hilo MOP Faculty Coordinators Lisa Parr and Dr. Jason Turner; longtime Staff MOP Coordinator, John Coney; UH Hilo Vice-Chancellor of Research, Dr. Michael Crosby; and Dr. Walter Dudley, Director of the Kalākaua Marine Education Center at UH Hilo.

Jeff Kuwabara attended on behalf of the MOP program at UH-Manoa and Donna Brown represented MOP at Maui Community College. John Kahiapo attended on behalf of the Department of Aquatic Resources, and Ron Whitmore and Diane Ley represented the County of Hawaiʻi. Some 20 UH Hilo students were also in attendance as was Dale Zarella, noted Maui artist who created the turtle monument at Punaluʻu Beach Park. All the attendees honored Balazs for his dedication and service to the collaborative efforts.

“The mission of the Marine Option Program is to foster the study of the natural history and cultural heritage of the sea, to provide outreach to the local community, and to promote marine stewardship,” Dudley said. “This partnership has significantly contributed to MOP’s mission over the past 25 years and will continue to do so in the years ahead.”

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