Coastal marine debris survey of Tern Island, Hawaii using high-resolution multispectral imagery.

Authors: Rebecca R Chapman*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Coastal and Marine, Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: marine debris, PCB, plastic pollution, risk assessment, habitat loss, endangered species, change detection, remote sensing
Session Type: Illustrated Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Canal St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Pollution is a twofold threat to the endangered and rare seals, sea turtles, and sea birds that breed and nest on Tern Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. First, these species face the risk of entanglement and ingestion of plastic marine debris coming from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and second, there have been releases of hazardous substances from old military waste buried on the island. This research uses environmental modeling and land change detection to provide an assessment of risk to key species and identifies how pollution moves on and off the island. WorldView-3 imagery-derived bathymetry, chlorophyll-a, colored dissolved organic matter, and sea surface temperature is used to model upwelling zones and areas with high primary productivity. These products are used to perform a mapped risk assessment for the Hawaiian monk seal, as well as model the distribution and behavior of plastics in the marine environment. Shoreline delineation and beach change detection produces critical knowledge of habitat stocks and debris transport. This has been increasingly needed, as the risk of inundation to other islands in French Frigate Shoals will put more stress on Tern Island. Quantifying and characterizing suitable breeding and nesting locations on Tern will show how well-prepared the area is for this scenario and identify areas that can be targeted for habitat restoration. This survey also reveals the risk of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) transported from known areas of military waste on Tern Island into the surrounding marine environment.

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