POSTED: Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grants boost sea, space study

The University of Hawaii will receive $296,270 from the National Science Foundation to upgrade sonar instruments and equipment of its research ship Kilo Moana.

The award is one of three totaling $891,305 announced by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye for ocean and astronomy research in Hawaii.

“;Understanding the ecosystem of the ocean and the galaxies that fill the vast expanse of space will lend insight into the world we occupy,”; he said. “;These funds will help the University of Hawaii take advantage of the state's unfettered access to the sea and the view through telescopes perched atop Hawaii's highest peaks.”;

Other awards included $428,916 to expand research examining microbial associations in reef-building corals from Hawaii in the North Pacific and Morrea, French Polynesia, in the South Pacific; and $166,119 to complete the largest census of nearby, low-mass stars, called M dwarf stars.

Haleakala getting a new septic tank

Work will begin tomorrow to replace an aging septic tank system at the Haleakala National Park headquarters visitor center, according to a news release.

Construction is scheduled to take about two weeks. During that time, the bathrooms at the visitor center at the 7,000-foot level will be closed, but portable toilets will be brought in for the public, the release said.

The visitor center and the parking lot will remain open during the project.

In a separate release, the park said it has reopened the campground in Kipahulu.

The park recently upgraded the campsite with improved parking, new picnic tables and free-standing grills. The improvements were paid for by park entry fees.

It costs $10 to enter the park. Camping is free and at Kipahulu is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Shootout aims to teach about invasive fish

Information about the need to eradicate destructive invasive fish species will be available at the Fall Shootout Spearfishing Tournament 2009 today. The public is invited to attend the final weigh-ins from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Pinky's Pupu Bar & Grill at 970 N. Kalaheo Ave. in Kailua.

“;The purpose of this tournament is to raise awareness about the alarming numbers of invasive species on Hawaii's reefs, its impact to other fish populations and the reef ecosystem,”; said coordinator Kurt Taguma.

The tournament, in its seventh year, is a partnership of the Hawaii Nature Conservancy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Fish for Science, a ciguatera study conducted by the University of Hawaii, he said. Representatives from those agencies will be at the event.

All proceeds will go to a nonprofit charity that focuses on underprivileged youth.

New to this year's tournament is a category dedicated to the eradication of roi (peacock grouper), one of the most destructive fish species found on Hawaii's reefs, Taguma said. Gone relatively unchecked for decades, roi populations have boomed to the point where in certain areas they outnumber some native fish species, such as kumu (goat fish), uhu (parrot fish), and papio (trevally).