Bomb radiocarbon dating

Our work to ensure sustainable fisheries and protect marine life is a joint effort between NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, offering cutting-edge science to help inform management decisions in an ever-changing environment.

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By: Delaney Reynolds, SRC Intern After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai’I, the United States declared martial law.

In the decades that followed, the island of Kaho‘olawe, Hawai’I, an island considered sacred to Hawai’ian Natives, was used as a training ground and bombing range for the United States’ Army.

The bombing came to a complete halt in 1993 when Congress voted to end all military use of Kaho‘olawe and transferred the island from martial law back to the state (Mac Donald 1972).

This decrease in bombing can also be seen in the hawksbill shells’ percentage of Carbon-14 in Figure 2.

Other popular species include green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, false killer whales, and humpback whales.

Our coral reefs support about 25 percent of marine life, but these areas are among the most threatened ecosystems because of the effects of natural events and human activities such as ocean acidification, coral bleaching and disease, marine debris, and pollution.

This tells us that using the bomb radiocarbon dating of hawksbills’ carapaces is an accurate tool for aging.

It was determined that wild hawksbills reach maturity between 17 and 22 years of age and captive hawksbills will reach maturity in approximately 12.3 years (Van Houtan 2016).

These bomb radiocarbon dating values also propose a decline in hawksbill trophic status.

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