Archive for January, 2012

Humpback whales are here

January 30th, 2012
By



A mother whale and her calf swim in Hawaiian waters. Photo courtesy of NOAA's  National Marine Fisheries Service.

A mother whale and her calf swim in Hawaiian waters. Photo courtesy of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

More than 950 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island on Saturday as part of NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. The weather conditions for viewing humpback whales were excellent on Saturday.

A total of two whales were sighted every 15 minutes on Oahu, three on Hawaii island and eight on Kauai, according to preliminary data. Volunteers collected data from 61 sites statewide (except on Maui, where the Pacific Whale Foundation conducts an independent whale count).

On Oahu, most sightings seemed to occur at Kualoa Ranch, Pyramid Rock, Hanauma Bay and Halona Blowhole.

Scientific studies have shown the humpback whale population in Hawaii is increasing at an annual rate of about seven percent.

Up to 12,000 humpback whales are found in Hawaiian waters every year. Between November and May, the whales return to their birthplace after migrating as far as Alaska. They return to Hawaiian waters to mate, calve and nurse their young.

A few even surprised us by paying a visit to Honolulu Harbor at the start of the year.

Boaters and other ocean users are asked to remain vigilant during these months. The endangered whales are protected by both federal and state laws. The sanctuary is jointly managed by NOAA and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Two more Sanctuary Ocean Counts are scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Saturday, March 31. If you're interested in becoming a Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer, visit sanctuaryoceancount.org or call 1-888-55-WHALE ext. 253.

Bringing the ‘aina to Oahu schools

January 26th, 2012
By



Students and volunteers at Kainalu Elementary School celebrate a boost in funding from Kaiser Permanente for their school garden program and a summer conference. Through Aina in Schools, the students can participate in an after-school Garden Club where they learn to tend to plants and compost, and enjoy a weekly salad bar in their cafeteria. Photo courtesy of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.

Students and volunteers at Kainalu Elementary School celebrate a boost in funding from Kaiser Permanente for their school garden program and a summer conference. Through Aina in Schools, the students can participate in an after-school Garden Club where they learn to tend to plants and compost, and enjoy a weekly salad bar in their cafeteria. Photo courtesy of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.

Aside from the challenge of getting kids to eat their veggies, parents sometimes have to educate them about where they come from other than in a plastic bag from the supermarket. Many kids have no idea — do carrots grow on trees or peas sprout from the ground?

Making an effort to change all that is the Kokua Hawaii Foundation's ‘Aina in Schools, a farm-to-school program aiming to connect children to their land, waters and food for a healthier future.

A total of 12 public elementary schools on Oahu participate in the program, so far. Students learn how to garden as well as get a lesson in nutrition. Four schools have salad bars, and four participate in a fresh fruit and vegetable snack program.

Kaiser Permanente recently presented the Kokua Hawaii Foundation with a grant to fund two projects: A school garden food safety certification pilot program and this summer's Hawaii State Farm to School Conference.

Food safety certification for school gardens is a major hurdle for schools to get produce grown on campus into the lunch program, according to Dexter Kishida, Kokua's school food coordinator. So this is a first step towards getting some of those garden greens on to students' lunch plates.

What Capt. Moore wants you to know about plastic

January 23rd, 2012
By



Capt. Charles Moore, discoverer of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," dons a necklace made out of plastic debris by Hawaii Island artist Noni Sanford, who combs Kamilo Beach.

Capt. Charles Moore, discoverer of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," dons a necklace made out of plastic debris by artist Noni Sanford, who combs Kamilo Beach on Hawaii island. Photo by Nina Wu..

Capt. Charles Moore, author of "Plastic Ocean" (Avery, $26) has dedicated his first book "to the generation, not yet born, that creates a world where plastic pollution is unthinkable."

Moore, 64, is far from retiring from his life's mission — to educate the public about the dangers of the "plastic soup" he first stumbled upon in the North Pacific Gyre in 1997. While most media have referred to him as the discoverer of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," he prefers to call it a "plastic soup" as a more accurate description of the broken-down bits and pieces of plastics as well as abandoned fishing nets floating below and above the surface of the ocean.

At the time, he was shocked by the amount of plastic litter in the ocean (seven successive days, over 1,000 nautical square miles) but didn't realize then that plastic was toxic, or "bio-active," with potentially harmful effects on human health.

His research vessel, the Alguita, has since returned to the Gyre numerous times to collect more data as well as to far corners of the world to document the extent of plastic dispersed in our ocean. In 2014 (the 15th anniversary of his discovery), Capt. Moore will return and spend a month to study a "plastic coral reef."

Capt. Moore carries a pouch of plastic debris collected from Kamilo Beach on Hawaii island.

Capt. Moore carries a pouch of plastic debris collected from Kamilo Beach on Hawaii island.

Moore carries a pouch of "plastic sand" — broken down bits of plastic that have been ingested by marine mammals and wash back up on Hawaii's shores – to show people what it is. The plastic debris is driven by the currents in particular towards Kamilo Beach on Hawaii island and Kahuku Beach on Oahu.

He also has some examples of bottles that have been chewed on (what looks like the remains of a shampoo bottle, top of a cleaning bottle, tube of insect repellent as well as a piece of plastic improperly incinerated and then thrown back out into the ocean). Plastic bottle caps are also very common.

"Plastic garbage does not belong in the ocean any more than sharks  belong in municipal swimming pools," says Moore in his book. "Plastic is like an invasive species. Once established, it doesn't go away..."

Moore met co-author Cassandra Phillips at a zero-waste meeting on the Big Island, where he lives part-time. He was looking for mulch, and she was looking to collect different types of recycled plastic for orchid pots. In 2006, she received grant funding from the USDA Small Business Innovation and Research program to study recycled plastics as an orchid growth medium.

While talking, they decided that Moore should write a book. Moore has written articles for scientific journals and been in several documentaries, but this is his first book.

Here is more of my conversation with Moore last week (after he spent the morning at a beach cleanup at Kahuku with the Kokua Hawaii Foundation's Plastic Free Hawaii and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii) and before a book reading at BookEnds in Kailua.

Q: What made you decide to write this book?

A: I felt the urgency of alerting people to this danger because it is an imminent danger in a lot of different ways, not only to species in the ocean, but to us as a species.

Q: To our health?

A: Very much so. It's all around us. We wear it, we drive in it, we get our food delivered in it, we make our children's toys with it and feed them with it...We entered the Plastic Age in 1979 when plastic surpassed steel as a manufactured item... We're living in the Plastic Age, but we haven't really had the plastic conversation...It turns out plastic has properties that make it bio-active and we're just now discovering some of the effects of that...I'd been thinking I needed to get this out there (in a book)...

Q. Some may read your book, and some may not, but if there's anything you want the public to know, what would it be?

A: That we've entered the Plastic Age, kind of silently, and it's causing a lot of problems with our health and the health of the environment. And we desperately need to have a plastic conversation. We need to discuss where it belongs because it's in a lot of places it doesn't belong (like the ocean) and us...including those chemicals that are in us: BPA (Bisphenol A) and phthalates...

Q. Is your message reaching people?

A: Little by little, we're gaining traction...A Japanese translation (of the book) is coming out in August. I'll be touring Japan in August and September.

Q. So if we can't go out and vacuum plastic out of the Pacific Gyre from a practical point of view, what can we do about the plastic problem?

A: Stop putting it in...Packaging from the mainland is a large concern. Those companies that sell you things in the island do not take back the packaging. They make your municipal government handle all that waste. People wrap it in plastic to make sure it comes here in a pristine state...Imagine if an island demanded that products that came to the island had a take-back infrastucture, a container filled back up with pallets of packaging on its way back. That's what we need to do...Local consumption is the key, I believe, to stopping this plastic monster and getting it out of the ocean because you don't have to wrap taro or locally produced papayas in plastic...I'm an advocate of what I call a regional reliance inventory — that we make everything we need to rely on to live here, so people can get things locally, for energy use, food, clothing and basics.

Q: Part of this is your concern for future generatons.

A: Absolutely...It doesn't appear as if any trophic level is immune...every sized organism is eating plastic, including a whale that washed up dead on a West Seattle beach with surgical gloves, plastic bags and golf balls [in its belly]...No part of the pyramid is immune.

Broken down pieces of plastic, including a shampoo bottle, tube of insect repellent and improperly incinerated piece of plastic.

Broken down pieces of plastic, including a shampoo bottle, tube of insect repellent and improperly incinerated piece of plastic.

Capt. Moore is the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. To read more about the Foundation's work, visit www.algalita.org. To see a full schedule of Capt. Moore's book tour, click here.

A total of 274 volunteers collected more than 3,600 pounds of trash from the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and Kahuku Beach, where ocean currents "spit out" the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Photo courtesy of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.

A total of 274 volunteers collected more than 3,600 pounds of trash from the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and Kahuku Beach, where ocean currents "spit out" the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Photo courtesy of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.

School phonebook recycling contest

January 21st, 2012
By



Recycle your phonebooks at Oahu schools as part of Hagadone's first phonebook recycling contest.

Recycle your phonebooks at Oahu schools as part of Hagadone's first phonebook recycling contest.

Hagadone Printing Co. is hosting its first-ever telephone-book recycling contest for Oahu schools.

The contest is open to any school on Oahu, and will feature a first place prize of $2,500 for the school that donates the most phone books. Second place collects $1,000.

Schools must register for the contest online at www.HagadonePrinting.com/PhonebookContest or on Hagadone's Facebook page. The contest ends on Feb. 29.

Clint Schroeder, Hagadon President says: "It's extremely important that we share the values of protecting the aina with the next generation, and through this contest we can show kids they CAN make a huge positive impact."

Approximately 410,000 tons of phone books find their way to landfills or incinerators, according to the Product Stewardship Institute, costing taxpayers about $60 million each year in management costs.

Hagadone has an industrial shredder/baler system that helps the company recycle 140 tons of waste paper per month.

For more information about the contest, contact Ed Kobayashi at 852-6334 or EdK@HagadonePrinting.com.

Capt. Moore's "Plastic Ocean"

January 13th, 2012
By



Captain-Charles-Moore1

Capt. Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, will sign copies of "Plastic Ocean" at BookEnds and Indigo Restaurant. Star-Advertiser file photo.

Capt. Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, is sailing into town on Jan. 16 and 17 as part of his "Plastic Ocean" book tour. The book tells of Capt. Moore's discovery of what's today known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" during a 1997 voyage from Hawaii back to California aboard the Alguita, a 50-foot catamaran. Today, the foundation continues to collect data and conduct studies on this "plastic soup" in the ocean as well as to educate others about it.

Here are a couple of events to help raise awareness, free and open to the public.

Kahuku Beach Cleanup: The Kokua Hawaii Foundation's Plastic Free Hawaii and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii are organizing a beach cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon at Kahuku Beach - James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, on Monday, Jan. 16. The Kahuku coastline gets the brunt of marine debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch through ocean currents. Check in at Kahuku High School's main entrance at 9 a.m. Open to the public.

9781583334249_plastic_oceans_HC.indd

Book Signing: From 6 to 8 p.m., Capt. Charles Moore will sign copies of "Plastic Ocean," followed by a reception, at BookEnds at Kailua Shopping Center.

Kahuku High School Talk: Capt. Moore speaks at the Kahuku High School Choir Room from 8:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17. The community is invited to listen.

UH Lecture: From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Capt. Moore will also be the keynote speaker at the Semester of Sustainability Kick-off at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, Center Ballroom. Open to the public.

BYU-Hawaii Talk: From 2 to 4 p.m., Joel Paschal, founder of Sea of Change and one of the two Algalita scientists who sailed the JUNKraft from California to Hawaii in 2008, will speak at the BYU-Hawaii Campus, Aloha Center Ballroom.

Book Signing: Capt. Moore will be on hand from 6 to 9 p.m. at Indigo Restaurant (1121 Nuuanu Ave.) for a book signing and reception.

DLNR's "The Rain Follows the Forest"

January 12th, 2012
By



DLNR's half-hour T.V. special "The Rain Follows the Forest" airs 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 on KGMB. Crew films a segment with actor Jason Scott Lee. Photo courtesy DLNR.

DLNR's half-hour T.V. special "The Rain Follows the Forest" airs 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 on KGMB. The crew films a segment with actor Jason Scott Lee. Photo courtesy DLNR.

Watch "The Rain Follows the Forest," a half-hour T.V. special featuring actor Jason Scott Lee at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19 on KGMB.

It's a program produced by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to illustrate the importance of watershed protection and restoration. Lee sets out on a journey to learn about sustainable life in our islands. Through various conversations, including one with DLNR chairperson William J. Aila Jr., Lee learns about Hawaii's fragile fresh water supply and discovers connections to our upland forest environment.

He shares ways in which we can all contribute to protecting our watersheds.

"I think about my grandchildren all the time and the challenges that they are going to face," says Aila. "The worst-case scenario is that our watersheds are depleted and the source of fresh water diminishes. Fresh water is really important for us. It's important to every ecosystem from the top of the mountain even into the ocean."

Hawaii's water supplies are under threat from hotter and drier conditions from climate change, as well as the loss of watershed forests. More than half of Hawaii's forests have been lost due to invasive alien species. The protection of mauka forest areas is the most efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater. Forests are also essential to preventing erosion.

The following is a list of airdates for "The Rain Follows the Forest."

January 2012
KGMB Thursday 1/19/2012 6:30-7pm
KGMB Sunday 1/22/2012 at 4:30-5pm
KHNL Thursday 1/26/2012 at 6:30-7pm
KHNL Saturday 1/28/2012 at 6 - 6:30pm

February 2012
Throughout February on “Outside Hawai‘i” on OC16

To learn more, you can read "The Rain Follows the Forest: A Plan to Replenish Hawaii's Source of Water" on the DLNR website. Follow DLNR on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HawaiiDLNR.

A rooftop farm in Kakaako

January 4th, 2012
By



Kahu Curt Kekuna conducts a blessing for FarmRoof's first urban rooftop farm in Kakaako. The farm will measure close to 1 acre, when done. CSA subscriptions will be available from FarmRoof.com. Photo by Nina Wu.

Kahu Curt Kekuna conducts a blessing for FarmRoof's first urban rooftop farm in Kakaako as founder Alan Joaquin stands by. The farm will measure close to 1 acre, when done. CSA subscriptions are available from FarmRoof.com. Photos by Nina Wu.

Want to order up some Kakaako-grown, organic kale and arugula? You may be able to do so soon from the expansivee rooftop at Auto Mart USA (the former CompUSA building) at 604 Ala Moana Blvd.

Eating local has taken on a new dimension.

FarmRoof, a Waimanalo-based company founded by Alan Joaquin, installed the first phase of the urban farm this morning on Auto Mart's rooftop.  Eventually, itfarmroofgreens will measure 38,000 square feet, or close to an acre.

Among the greens to be planted are organic heirloom kale, arugula and mustard greens.

Harvest-time is expected in as little as three weeks.

The farm plans to supply the community, local retailers and chefs with an assortment of crops. You can sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription at www.FarmRoof.com. The first delivery (by bike) is anticipated on Feb. 3, 2012.

With Kahu Curt Kekuna's blessing, the long rows of soil-containing mesh sacks were unfurled, a small hole was broken at the top, and the first few seeds of kale were planted with a sprinkling of water.

These sacks contain ultra lightweight soil, according to Joaquin, and are infused with more than 70 minerals, trace elements, micro-nutrients and indigenous microorganisms. FarmRoof's greens are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The system, he says, offers a 10 to 1 production gain over a conventional farm, uses 90 percent less water and can be powered by a single 9-volt battery. If there's not enough rain, there's an internal irrigation system that waters the greens.

plantingseedsFarmRoof's system will harness the sun's energy while also cooling down AutoMart's interior downstairs.

"What we're trying to do is start a revolution," said Joaquin, who pointed to the nearby port which he said ships in 85 to 90 percent of our food at an average distance of 4,500 miles. "We're trying to take that wasted roof space and turn it into healthy food. If even 25 percent of the available flat rooftops in Kakaako, Honolulu and Waikiki had FarmRoofs installed, we could grow enough loose leaf lettuce to feed every  man, woman and child in Hawaii, with Zero Food Miles"

There are rooftop farms in the urban core of cities like Chicago and  New York.

A 600-square-foot rooftop farm already exists atop Sweet Home Waimanalo. There's also a small, rooftop garden at the office of Philip White Architects at 40 S. School St., which was installed in 2010. FarmRoof Super Greens became available at Whole Foods Market in November 2011.

FarmRoof is subleasing the space from Auto Mart USA as part of a deal brokered by landowner Kamehameha Schools. A rooftop farm is also expected to be installed on a housing complex at 680 Ala Moana Blvd.