Sarah Donahue

Last Updated August 2018

Sarah was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She has always had a love for animals and the ocean growing up, but her desire to work with marine life didn’t truly set in until she took a school trip in 6th grade to Catalina Island, California, where she found her calling to work with the marine environment.

Sarah was accepted into Hawai’i Pacific University in 2012 and has studied abroad in Panama (Fall 2013) and Tanzania (Spring 2014), where she worked on marine conservation projects. In Panama, her project was based on the overfishing of sharks along the Pacific Coast and how the creation of protected estuaries may help the recovery of shark populations. Her project in Tanzania was comparing crab and mangrove species diversity and abundance between mangrove forests and the salt farms within to determine the effect salt farms have on the native environment.

After returning to HPU the following semester, Sarah acquired a job at the Pelagicos lab, which sparked her new found love for seabirds. She began sorting through diet samples of Red Footed Boobies. These samples have become the foundation for her research at HPU. She also volunteers performing necropsies for the Marine Stranding Program at HPU as well as an internship sorting the marine debris found within two whale stomachs. Since discovering her love for birds, she has also helped with various seabird projects around the island. Sarah was accepted into the Concurrent Masters' of Marine Science Program at HPU the Fall of 2015 and graduated with a B.S. in Marine Biology in May of 2016.

The focus of Sarah's research is to describe the foraging ecology of Oahu’s Red Footed Boobies by quantifying their diet and linking it to their movements, measured using GPS loggers. More specifically, the goals of this study are to: 1) describe the diet and feeding behavior of the birds and compare it to a previous study at the same colony (Ashmole & Ashmole 1967); 2) develop and implement standardized methods for analyzing seabird diet samples; and 3) integrate the diet and movement data to compare the behavior of the birds during two years of different oceanographic conditions (2014 & 2015).

Sarah presented her findings at the Pacific Seabird Group meeting, held in O'ahu in February 2016, and was awarded the runner up student presentation award for her poster entitled:

Diet of Red-footed Boobies Provisioning Chicks on O'ahu

She also presented her findings at the Pacific Seabird Group meeting held in La Paz (Mexico) in February 2018, and defended her thesis in April 2018:

After graduating from HPU in August 2018, she was hired to work on various seabird research and habitat restoration projects by two NGOs:


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