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TREX 2018 Day 10: Get under the Sea

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TREX 2018 Day 10: Get under the Sea

By Suchan Vivatsethachai `20

Despite piles of data waiting to be analyzed, we were still lucky enough to have a chance to go snorkeling! Not far from Hapuna Beach State Park lies a small but beautiful Kahalu’u Beach. Despite being shallow, Kahalu’u Bay has a large marine population including Honu, an endangered green turtle. Most of the marine life living here are comfortable around snorkelers, allowing us to appreciate their beauty more closely than other places.

TREXers getting instructions before snorkeling

We had a ReefTeacher, a volunteer at Kahalu’u bay education center, Kathleen, as both our instructor and the guide of the snorkeling group. She briefly informed us about the history of the bay and the failed attempt to construct a concrete wall to prevent erosion in the past.

She then brought gear such as a mask, a snorkel and a Fin for each of us, and she also provided us with a mineral-base sunscreen, which does not affect coral bleaching like other chemical sunscreens do. For this trip, we not only saw more than half of the fish said to live in the region, but we also got to observe Honu feeding on seaweed.

Honu under water

Having much fun in the morning, we then headed back and did a serious analysis of the data we had collected so far. I chose to analyze the measurement of the concentration of particulate matter from the air sensors that we spread throughout the island.

We also did some visualization of the data from the sensor Calvin, which we mounted on top of the car. We got a cool graph showing the concentration of the particulate matter along the path, but we also noticed that the trends of the concentration of PM when we drove forth and when we drove back were completely opposite. Since we were still in an early step of the analysis, there were still a lot of mystery had yet to be solved!


Data from sensor Calvin


Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.