Sea Surveying, Training,
and Response Squad (SeaSTARS)

SeaSTARS is a scientific diving program that allows graduates of MOP's QUEST Field School to practice their scientific diving skills.

Left to right: Rosie Lee, Keelee Martin, Jenna Budke (lead diver), Julia Stewart (lead diver)

Program Goals

1) Provide opportunities for graduates of the QUEST Field School to:

  • - increase proficiency with surveying techniques taught at QUEST,
  • - increase depth authorization,
  • - and increase proficiency at diving from boats.

2) Establish a regular time series of certain parameters at sites on the windward and leeward sides of Hawai`i Island. Surveys will be conducted at Wai`olena (windward side) and Honaunau (leeward side) as part of the Monthly Assessment of Marine Organisms (MAMO) project. See below for more details!

3) Initiate surveys to document other parameters that may be appropriate given current issues (such as sea cucumber abundance surveys in response to the 2015 harvest moratorium, or documenting the 2015-2016 coral bleaching event).

Want to dive with the STARS?

Students who have completed the QUEST Field School and are currently an authorized UH Scientific Diver are eligible to dive with the SeaSTARS. Interested students should contact the MOP Staff Coordinator at

Study guides for the SeaSTARS species ID exam can be found here.

SeaSTARS gearing up for their first dive

In this video, SeaSTARS divers prepare for the program's first dive. The dive was conducted on 11/29/2015 in Hilo Bay. The purpose of the dive was to assess the impact of the 2015-2016 coral bleaching event on the corals of Blonde Reef. The dive sites were accessed via boat, aboard the Marine Science Department's R/V Makani `aha. The assessment was continued on 12/18/2015, for a total of six transects at three locations on Blonde Reef, all within the breakwater. Data can be made available upon request.

Monthly Assessment of Marine Organisms (MAMO)

The goal of MAMO is to collect one complete data point* at Honaunau and one complete data point at Wai`olena (formerly known as Leleiwi) every 6 months. Dives are conducted on a monthly basis, but a complete data point may not be collected in one day. It takes multiple trips to each site to collect all of the data, and scheduling dives monthly ensures that there is enough time to complete the work.

    *What is a complete data point?
  • - Two fish surveys at each of two isobaths (<40ft and between 40ft-60ft)
  • - Two benthic surveys at each of two isobaths (<40ft and between 40ft-60ft)
  • - Two coral health surveys at each of two isobaths (<40ft and between 40ft-60ft)
  • - Two Invertebrate surveys at each of two isobaths (<40ft and between 40ft-60ft)
SeaSTARS Dive Sites

Hilo Bay Breakwater
(Blonde Reef)

Hilo Bay

(Leleiwi Beach Park)








Kailua Bay

Kailua Bay

SeaSTARS Photo Albums