Amy Markel recently received an award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The scholarship includes an $8,000 award for the 2011-2012 academic year and another $8,000 award for the 2012-2013 academic year. Through this program, Markel will participate in a 10-week internship with a NOAA mentor during the summer of 2012 that will be supported with a weekly stipend.
Markel is currently on exchange at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo through the National Student Exchange Program where she has been taking summer classes within the university’s Marine Science Department. Her current courses cover topics in Marine Reptile Conservation Ecology and the Natural History of Sharks and Rays.
Markel has recently had the opportunity to document, through snorkel surveys, the abundance and relative Fibropapilloma (FB) tumor severity of green sea turtles in areas around the Big Island of Hawai'i, as part of her Marine Reptile Conservation Ecology course under the direction of Dr. Jason Turner of the Marine Science Department at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. In addition to the snorkel surveys, Markel was able to work alongside her classmates with Dr. George Balazs (Marine Turtle Expert for the Pacific Island’s office of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service) to tag and record growth data for green sea turtles at the Punalu’u Beach in Hawaii. During tagging, Markel and her classmates helped rescue a 309 lb. (large for this species) female Hawksbill Turtle. Aside from her work with turtles, Markel, along with her classmates in the Natural History of Sharks and Rays course, have also radio tagged more than twenty sharks (both sandbar adults and juvenile blacktips) in Hilo Bay.
On her free time, Markel completed her volunteer training for the Hawaiian Cetacean Rehabilitation Center in Hilo that services the Pacific Islands for Rehabilitation and responds to strandings of marine mammals on the Big Island. She has also expressed interest in volunteering at the NOAA Discovery Center Mokupapa which features an exhibit about the North Western Hawai'ian Islands environment. Markel hopes to use her Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship to work with NOAA to monitor several of the North Western Hawaiian Islands.
View the news article describing Amy Markel’s Hawksbill Turtle rescue.