Macy goes to ICRS 2016

I attended my first-ever International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) last June 20-24, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii (!!!). Basically, ICRS is the biggest gathering of coral reef and reef fish nerds on the planet. I felt right at home 😀 <3

Here’s me presenting my study Abundance patterns of coral-dependent reef fish in select sites in the Philippines, co-authored with my boss and Denmark [another research assistant]). Fortunately or unfortunately, our session was scheduled in the theater so I presented on a sizable stage with a huge screen and the attendees had stadium seating. Other attendees said it was a plus because people could go in and out of the theater without the presenter noticing. Me, I was mostly concerned about presenting to a noticeably sparsely populated room.

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My presentation was scheduled at 9:30 am – not exactly primetime for scientists 😛 Iris (a fellow Filipino who’s based in the National University of Singapore) joked that she thought of attending my talk but opted not to because of the early schedule. Don’t worry Iris, it’s all good 😛 I had two people ask me about the study, though I don’t think the second one counts because she was more interested in the aquarium fish trade rather than the coral reef-reef fish patterns. Referred her to my labmate Jem though 🙂

This is me thanking those who made my study and the trip to ICRS possible: our source of research funding (but not of travel grants) DOST-PCAARRD, my awesomesauce labmates, Dr. Ting Nanola of UP Mindanao of his insights, and Pinky’s Goodies bakery for the travel grant <3 Actually, that travel grant thank you should have been Pinky’s Goodies, Bar Pintxos, Alma Javelosa, Virgie Sorita, and friends and customers of Geekerie. THANK YOU!
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Before ICRS though, I attended a two-day workshop on coral identification at the Waikiki Aquarium taught by Russell Kelley of BYO Guides. Attending the workshop was more to confirm and shore up my existing coral ID skills rather than learning from scratch. It also showed me how to run a coral ID workshop, which is something I’m likely to use in the future 🙂 Plus it was fun!

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ICRS was a great experience. I learned a lot from the different sessions and the sessions reminded me of how much I miss working on corals 😛 The ones that stuck with me the most were the status reports on the 2016 mass bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef and the update on the West Philippine Sea scenario (the wholesale destruction of the reefs by the Chinese, the illegal extraction of giant clams, sea turtles, and other endangered species, the arbitration case in the Hague, etc.). It was interesting to hear about the case from Dr. Kent Carpenter (he served as an expert witness for the Philippine delegation), whose testimony included citing a paper that showed that the Spratlys may be a significant source of coral larvae (and by reasonable extension, fish larvae) for Palawan and some isolated reefs in the West Philippine Sea. I also thought of looking out for Dr. Morgan Pratchett but decided against it because I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to ask him about butterflyfishes and coral reefs, even though they’re my two favorite things. I did get to interview Dr. Terry Hughes (THE Dr. Terry Hughes!) though for an article about the mass bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, which will hopefully be done by this week.

No word yet on where ICRS 2020 will be as no one bid to host it. ICRS 2012 was in Cairns, Australia, then 2016 in Hawaii, USA. Maybe somewhere in South America for 2020? Let’s see 🙂

EDIT: The United Nations Arbitral Tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea dispute.

How to get discounted luggage on Hawaiian Airlines even with a Delta award ticket

For the first time ever, I redeemed my Delta SkyMiles for an award ticket. While I’ve redeemed miles before under their Pay with Miles program (though that was frustrating because it was before Pay with Miles tickets earned mileage credit), I’ve never had enough miles for a full award ticket. That changed when I booked a Honolulu-Hilo-Honolulu (HNL-ITO-HNL) ticket with Hawaiian Airlines during our happy days extension after the International Coral Reef Symposium (post about the ICRS experience on the way!). $180 saved! 😀


The only downside was that since it was a Delta ticket and thus tagged with my SkyMiles number, I (theoretically) wouldn’t be eligible for the discounted check-in baggage fee that Hawaiian extends to their HawaiianMiles members. Regular rate for Neighboring Island flights (i.e. HNL-ITO-HNL) is $25 per way for the first bag and $35 per way for the second, while the discounted rate is $15 for the first bag and $20 for the second.

*Restrictions may apply. As a member benefit, HawaiianMiles members will enjoy reduced 1st and 2nd checked baggage fees when flying between the Neighbor Islands, traveling wholly within the State of Hawaii … Discount applies to confirmed Hawaiian Airlines revenue tickets and flight award tickets redeemed with HawaiianMiles. Discount is applicable on any fare class ticket. Baggage discounts will only be applied when your HawaiianMiles number is present in your reservation, or added prior to completing the check-in process.

So that’s that, right? Not exactly. I accidentally found a loophole in their setup after signing up for HawaiianMiles and poking around their website.

  1. Sign up for HawaiianMiles! Super easy.
  2. Find your booking in the HA site using Delta’s confirmation code.
  3. HA displays your itinerary with them and a separate HA confirmation code. You can either print this page out or just remember the new confirmation code.
  4. Upon check-in (we used the self-check in stations), use the HA confirmation code instead of Delta’s, input your HawaiianMiles number, and voilà! You’re eligible for the baggage discount 😀

It seems that HA’s system gives a separate confirmation code because it treats the Delta award ticket as a third-party booking, same as a ticket bought through a travel agency.

The funny thing is that I only discovered this during our return leg. When I tried to check-in for the HNL-ITO leg, the self-service station wouldn’t accept Delta’s confirmation code. Since it was the first flight of the day (ugh 5:30 am) and there weren’t any HA staff yet, I ended up checking in online through my phone while my friend checked my bag in under her regular HA ticket. Why the HA website accepted Delta’s code while the self-service station did not, I have no idea. I looked up my flight details the day before we flew back, and that’s when I discovered that HA gives a new confirmation number.

Let me know if this works out for anybody else!