Coconut Island Leaders Shift Roles As Marine Studies Continue

Two Kaneohe residents dedicated to Hawaii’s marine resources are changing roles within University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant College Program and its research arm on Coconut Island, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Darren Lerner will take over from Gordon Grau to direct the program, while Grau steps down to focus on mentoring students and continuing to study fish endocrinology and environmental physiology at his HIMB lab in Kaneohe Bay. A professor for three decades at UH Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Grau helped elevate the school’s Sea Grant program to one of the best in a network of 33 across the nation and its territories, during his 15 years as director.


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Gordon Grau: Back to the HIMB laboratory

“It’s been an honor to serve under Dr. Grau,” stated Lerner, who currently conducts research on the impact of environmental contaminants on fish growth, physiology and behavior at HIMB. He noted that Grau has transformed Sea Grant both here and across the nation, “reflecting the understanding that the problems we face in the ocean and on our coasts are in large part due to our activities on land.”

Lerner will lead the Sea Grant faculty, staff and its partners, and also serve as interim director of the UH Water Resources Research Center. According to Grau, Lerner has the skills and insight to take Sea Grant to the next level, “to build a safe and sustainable future for our descendants while thriving within the capacity of our habitats and ecosystems.”

To see for yourself what all the excitement’s about, HIMB offers weekday tours, family Sunday tours, three-hour lab studies on land and water, overnight camps, school trips and customized visits to the facilities on the island, also known as Moku o lo’e.

For more information, call 235-9302 or email