I'm renting a room here from Rita Steyn, who's a biologist working for the Smithsonian. Today she took me to see her lab on coconut island, which is a research station owned by the state of Hawaii.

(That's Rita, on the left, with her girlfriend Kahala.)

Rita's research involves collecting the microscopically small larvae from this coral so that they can be cryogenically preserved.

Zebrafish eggs are another subject of the cryo research.

Another researcher is learning to farm featherduster worms to reduce the pressure that the aquarium trade puts on wild populations.

These are some more miscellaneous critters that Kahala pointed out around the island.

I took a brief swim in the bay while Rita finished up with her lab work. The water was only a few feet deep, but there were hundreds of huge featherduster worms among the coral -- they looked just like the photo above.

The bay is crawling with enormous sea cucumbers. The photos don't look that great, but they were very stripey and colorful. This species of cucumber is endemic to Kane'ohe bay, totally unlike anything I've ever seen.