New UH vessel to expand marine research and conservation efforts

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Renderings of imua.

The University of Hawaii in Mānoa will welcome a new research vessel imua in the fall of 2023. The 68-foot semi-displacement aluminum catamaran will be used by a team of 12 researchers from the uh Manoa Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), including two Coast Guard-certified captains who will operate the vessel. The All American Marine, which specializes in building ships, won the contract to build imua.

imua is part of Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg’s $50 million gift to HIMB earlier this year to improve Hawaii’s ocean health. The knowledge acquired during the scientific missions on this vessel will directly support the management and conservation of Hawaii’s marine resources.

The speed of the twin engine and the fuel efficiency of the ship will be fundamental to meet uhand allowing researchers to study the marine environments of the Hawaiian Islands.

renderings of the back of the ship
Renderings of imua.

“We will use imua to deepen our understanding of Hawaii’s marine ecosystems, inspire and train the marine scientists of tomorrow, and bring exciting K-12 learning experiences to local communities across the state,” said Fletcher chip, uh Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology acting dean.

imua can range from shallow coastal waters up to 150 nautical miles offshore while supporting a science team of eight for a week. The vessel was custom-designed to support a diverse portfolio of science and outreach missions, including advanced marine megafauna studies, pelagic and coastal ecosystem research, oceanographic studies, and science learning experiences. Kindergarten to Grade 12 can accommodate up to 20 people.

Extensive search capabilities

imuaAdvanced search capabilities will give researchers important new insights into hard-to-study wildlife such as sharks and whales, and allow monitoring a wide range of ocean health parameters and exploring lesser-known habitats such as as the bathyal (to the edge of the continental shelf) and the pelagic zones (from the surface to the bottom of the sea).

“This is an exciting opportunity for uh and the Hawaii community because imua represents a substantial increase in our capacity for marine science research, training and outreach,” said Carl Meyer, uh Assistant Researcher Mānoa at HIMB. “For decades we have lacked a uh vessel that bridges the gap between small research vessels and large ocean research vessels.

imua complete and improve uhcurrent research fleet of and significantly improves access to coastal and pelagic marine habitats around Hawaii.

diver near shark
(Photo credit: National geographic)
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