Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) Researcher Ikelau Otto and Research Assistant McQuinnley Mesengei traveled to Hawaii last Friday to begin an ocean acidification fellowship at the University of Hawaii.
The two-and-a-half-month fellowship will provide Otto and Mesengei with the expertise they need to operate a new state-of-the-art ocean acidification (OA) monitoring lab at PICRC. The OA lab will significantly expand Palau’s capacity to study ocean acidification in our waters.
Dr. Christopher Sabine, a professor at the University of Hawaii and expert on ocean acidification, will lead the fellowship program.
“In Palau, our economy, our food security, and our way of life all depend on the ocean.” said Otto. “Therefore, it’s critical that we understand the threat that ocean acidification poses to the delicate environment we rely so heavily on and what we can do in response.”
Otto and Mesengei were awarded the fellowship as part of a four-year project with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to expand Palau’s capacity to monitor ocean acidification. The project also establishes the new ocean acidification lab at PICRC led by Otto and Mesengei.
“The new lab is providing us with the tools we need to study ocean acidification and now, with the fellowship, Ikelau and I will have the expertise to use it to its full potential.” said Mesengei. “It’s a big step forward for Palau and the whole Micronesian region.”
After returning to Palau, Otto and Mesengei will provide additional trainings to the PICRC’s research team along with support from Stanford Professor Dr. Robert Dunbar, who is helping with the development of PICRC’s OA research program.