Discipline: Biological Sciences
Mayah Dunham - Virginia State University
Co-Author(s): Latia Jackson and Shobha Sriharan, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA Jason Adolf, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo HI
Hilo Bay has uncharacteristically brown waters compared to other waters found in Hawaii. The majority of the freshwater entering Hilo Bay is from storm and surface water runoff, which made me interested in the quality of the bay. During my 10 weeks in the Marine Science Department of the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH), which included completing 4-credit course (MARE 297) on scanning electron microscopy (SEM) funded by the NSF HBCU UP Supplement Grant, I investigated the water quality and phytoplankton composition of Hilo Bay. The hypothesis of this research is that Hilo Bay provides a good environment for a phytoplankton community. In order to determine the health of Hilo Bay a transect was performed measuring various parameters including salinity, percent dissolved oxygen, turbidity, secchi depth, temperature, and chlorophyll fluorescence data collected at each sampling station. Our methodology also included collecting water samples at a buoy positioned one meter from the shore of Hilo Bay, preserving the sample to insure the phytoplankton remained intact, concentrating and dehydrating the sample with ethanol, and viewing the phytoplankton with a Hitachi S-3400NII scanning electron microscope, which was a fundamental tool in this process. By utilizing a scanning electron microscope images with a greater magnification and resolution were generated, allowing for a more precise identification of the collected phytoplankton. Different diatoms and dinoflagellates were observed which vary due to seasonal conditions and changes in biological parameters we measured. Several of the phytoplankton we identified can cause various detrimental effects such as Amnesic Shellfish Poison (ASP), anoxic water, and toxic red algae blooms. Our research also suggested that many of the parameters tested directly correlated with one another and are closely linked to anthropogenic sediments and runoff.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF HBCU UP Supplement Grant for summer internship.
Faculty Advisor: Shobha Sriharan,