Home > Explore Data & Reports > Marine biogeographic assessment of the main Hawaiian Islands: a collaborative investigation


Costa, B.M., and M.S. Kendall. 2016. Marine biogeographic assessment of the main Hawaiian Islands: a collaborative investigation. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 214 and OCS Study BOEM 2016-035. Silver Spring, MD. 383 pp. https://doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-NOS-NCCOS-214

Data/Report Type:

NOAA Technical Memorandum


The state of Hawai'i is working to develop local renewable energy sources to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Most of the State's potential renewable energy resources (notably, wind) are located in federal waters from 3 to 200 nm offshore. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) regulates the leasing, construction and operation of most renewable energy projects in federal waters, and is required to evaluate potential human, coastal and marine impacts from these projects. BOEM partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to gather biogeographic information in support of this evaluation around the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). The complexity of products from this assessment range from simple animal distribution maps to mathematical models depicting the predicted distributions of animals. Biogeographic analyses and data products were specifically tailored to meet BOEM's needs, and designed to fit within BOEM's framework of offshore lease blocks. This biogeographic assessment addresses three main questions: (1) how are select species or taxonomic groups distributed spatially and temporally around the MHI?; (2) what environmental conditions influence these distributions?; and (3) what significant gaps exist in our knowledge about the biogeography of the area? To answer these questions, existing, readily-available spatial information was compiled and synthesized, including information on the physical and biological environment, benthic habitats, fishes, sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds. The assessment focused on federal waters and taxa that were: (1) more likely to interact with renewable energy infrastructure, (2) culturally significant, (3) legally protected, and/or (4) economically valuable. Collaborations with local managers, scientists, and experts from a variety of federal, state, academic and non-governmental organizations were crucial. These partners contributed their data, time and expertise, and many were contributing coauthors on this report. The assessment includes two main components: (1) a technical report (this document) and (2) associated spatial datasets for use within Geographic Information System (GIS) software.

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