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TREX 2018 Day 10: Snorkelin’

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TREX 2018 Day 10: Snorkelin’

By Meghan Reisenauer ‘19

We began early this morning on the road to Kona to go snorkeling as a group! Once again, I realized I had visited this place before – in fact, I had snorkeled at the very same beach our TREX group went to, a few years before. A ReefTeach employee, Kathleen, was our tour guide for Kahalu’u Bay and showed us all the kinds of fish and coral we were likely to see and instructed us on how to use our flippers and snorkel masks. She reminded us of the importance of floating continuously, and not stepping on the living coral.

The Hawaiian surf

There was a huge variety of colorful fish on the reef, in all shades from yellow to pink to blue. We saw eels, sea stars, and even three green sea turtles! It was amazing to be up so close to all the wildlife and to see how much life the coral supports. We flippered our way out to the rock break wall, about 500 feet from the beach, and over to the other side of the small bay, before heading back in. Then, after we washed off and returned our gear, I was finally able to get some delicious Hawaiian shave ice! I’d been hoping to find a shop this whole trip, but none had yet been close enough to be convenient. I got one with the works, and Ju, Chang, and James shared a large. Joey also enjoyed his own.

An extra-large shave ice! Photo: Ju Chulakadabba

After our touristy morning, we headed back to camp to get some data analysis done. Our main task was to process all the sensor and drone data we had collected, to be able to formulate an introductory presentation – we’ll be giving our public talk on Monday evening, so we need to get started on figures and content. We also needed to do some chemical analysis on our soil samples, such as pH and nutrient content, to see any correlations (or lack thereof) with the NDVI and far-infrared data we’ve collected from Mr. Ha’s field. James and I worked mainly on stitching together the images taken by the far-infrared camera we recently put on the drone.

One of the resulting images from the far-infrared camera

Our day ended with another beach sunset at Hapuna, after a long day of work but also some snorkeling fun.

Sunset over Hapuna beach


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.