In order to get to American Samoa, one must begin in Honolulu, where we stayed until January 1.
Oahu is a busy, touristy kind of island, but we were there to begin our project. Thanks to a serendipitous meeting with Allison Fong at the Arctic Circle Assembly Confernce in Reykavik in October, I connected with her former roomate at Hawaii University, Shimi Rii, who is a marine biologist now with the HIMB: Hawaiian Insitute of Marine Biology. We were welcomed with a very special tour on Thursday, December 28th.
After which we went directly to meet Amy Eggers at the Gates Dry Lab where we were treated to a demonstration and explanation of their Confocal Microscope. She explained to us the value of this ground-breaking instrument. They could view LIVE coral in their own watery habitat and then control for temperature, nutrients etc., thus allowing them to study actual hypothetical conditions in real time -rather than just creating models. One scientist said this technology is such a breakthrough that one can now, in a matter of days, do the work he has done over an 8 year period!