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NOAA’s Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary and NMFS CRED hosted an education for high school students aboard the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai on April 11, 2012.  Forty-five students learned from the scientists on board the ship and participated through hands-on experiments and activities.

The morning session included students from the public and private high schools, and the afternoon session involved the Ocean Swimming/Ocean Science and Toa o le Tai students.  There were three workshops, each providing students with a different perspective on the daily work of a marine scientist as well as learning about the vessel and its operation.

Students were also given a detailed tour of the Hi’ialakai, including the hyperbaric chamber, fire fighting and launching of small boats.  Research was conducted on identifying the four most common types of algae found in waters of American Samoa, and the role of algae in coral reef environments.  Another class was to identify species through Live Rock study.  Students examined live rock for invertebrates and other critters that utilize this special habitat.

The Hi’ialakai Education Cruise provided the youth of American Samoa a rare and unique opportunity to work directly with NOAA scientists on one of the leading research vessels in the South Pacific.  The ship was a perfect platform for students to participate in real-time marine science.

FBNMS hopes that the experience provided during the education day can continue to inspire American Samoa’s students to take an interest in the ocean and marine environments, and possibly pursue careers related to marine science and conversation.

[source:  Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary]