Posted on: April 13, 2011

"Eyes of the Reef" Community Training Offered by Darla J. White as Part of Pacific Whale Foundation’s Making Waves Lecture Series

Calling all ocean swimmers, snorkelers, divers, fishers and other water users: your eyes are needed to help spot problems and changes that may occur at your favorite reefs -- early on, when there's the best chance of addressing them. It's easy to learn how to do this, by attending the upcoming "Eyes of the Reef" community training workshop which will be conducted by Darla J. White on Thursday, April 21 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.

The workshop is offered as part of Pacific Whale Foundation's monthly Making Waves Lecture Series, and will take place at Pacific Whale Foundation's Discovery Center, on the lower level of the Harbor Shops at Ma'alaea, next to Maui Ocean Center. By becoming part of the Eyes of the Reef Network, you'll become part of a group of trained community members who know how to provide reliable reports on bleaching, disease and changing reef conditions throughout Hawai'i, including invasions by Crown-of-Thorns Sea Stars and other problematic marine invasive species.

Darla J. White is the Maui Island Coordinator for the Eyes of the Reef Reporting Network, and Special Projects Coordinator for the Hawaii DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources. She earned both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Hawaii at Hilo in Marine Science. She has been a research diver in Hawaii for more than a decade, and has had the rare privilege to collect data on coral reefs throughout the whole of the Hawaiian Archipelago.

While working with research teams in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, she became interested in marine disease and threats to reefs, and is passionate about the opportunity to share this information with the community through the Eyes of the Reef. Workshop participants can also attend a free field identification program led by Darla White on Saturday, April 23, from 9 am to noon at Kahekili Beach Park in Kaanapali. "Whether you are a recreational ocean user, recreational or commercial fisherman, tourism operator, researcher or student, you can help keep an eye out for signs of change when you are visiting Hawaii's reefs" says White. "Pollution, climate change, and poor land use practices create environmental conditions that foster coral disease and coral bleaching, support the spread of invasive species and threaten reef health."

White notes that early detection of reef problems is important in protecting our reef resources. "A wide network of observers providing regular reports of conditions throughout the region can provide information early on, so managers can take steps to address problems when they happen," she notes. To learn more about "Eyes of the Reef" and the workshops, please contact Darla White at 808-345-2312 or darla.j.white@hawaii.gov.