Sarah Bingo grew up in the small town of West Linn, Oregon. She was first bit with the “bird fever” in high school after participating in an Audubon Society bird-watching excursion to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Taking an environmental science course in high school encouraged her to continue to become ecologically literate in the plant and bird ecology where she lived. In 2007 she left the mainland to begin her undergraduate studies Hawaii Pacific University.
As a marine biology student at HPU, Sarah was awarded a NSF undergraduate research fellowship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science in 2009. Her independent research project investigated the role of shallow water sediment banks on the alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon of seawater. Later she was awarded the Earnest F. Hollings Scholarship by NOAA. During her scholarship in 2010 Sarah worked with the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory and NMFS to survey the bottomfish habitats on seamounts off the coast of Ni’ihau. Her research documented the abundance and diversity of all animal phyla along three deep-sea ridges, which was used to evaluate the area as potential Essential Fish Habitat.
After completing her Bachelors of Science at HPU, Sarah decided to put her degree to good use in outreach and education. She shared her passion for seabirds with the public as a wildlife naturalist in a local eco-tour company in Kailua. Sarah introduced thousands of people from all over the world to the seabird sanctuary islets in Kailua Bay and taught them about the marine ecosystems of Hawai’i. She also volunteered in the seabird rehabilitation center and education exhibit at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo.
Sarah’s graduate research will focus on the variations in physical oceanographic conditions associated with ENSO cycles and how they affect foraging habits and chick fledging success of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater breeding at the Freeman seabird preserve, on O’ahu. She plans to use stable isotope analysis of the seabirds’ feathers as a proxy for trophic feeding level. She is particularly interested in the use of Wedge-tailed Shearwater as an indicator species for shifts in ocean food webs due to environmental forcing.