Archive for July, 2014

Marine debris art

July 31st, 2014

Honolulu artist Shannon McCarthy painted this monk seal ocean scene on five reclaimed wood panels and a border made out of invasive strawberry guava wood. The panels will be on display at the Jack Johnson concerts Aug. 1 and 2. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Honolulu artist Shannon McCarthy created this monk seal ocean scene mosiac on five reclaimed wood panels bordered by invasive strawberry guava. The mosaic will be on display at the Jack Johnson concerts Aug. 1 and 2 at Waikiki Shell. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.


So, what do you do with all of that plastic debris — small pieces of broken-down plastics, or microplastics — cleaned from the beach?

For Honolulu artist and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii volunteer, Shannon McCarthy, the answer is, get creative and make art.

She created a Hawaiian monk seal ocean scene (two adult monk seals, one pup) on the North Shore on five wooden panels constructed out of reclaimed wood with a border of invasive strawberry guava wood. The mosaic was first unveiled at a beach cleanup at Point Panic (Kakaako) in June, then went on display at Honolulu Hale. It will be up at the Jack Johnson concert at Waikiki Shell Aug. 1 and 2. 

The microplastics were collected using rudimentary sand sifters, then separated and glued to the panels. Students from Kainalu Elementary, St. John Vianney, St. Louis School,  St. Anthony, Kahaluu Elementary and members of Girl Scouts Troop 840 all pitched in on the artwork, as well as helped with beach cleanups over the past three months, collecting the marine debris.

"The mosaics are inspired by the need to spread awareness of plastics and marine debris in all the oceans," said McCarthy, "how to reduce or eliminate our daily impact on it, and how drastically beautiful Hawaii and its inhabitants are being affected by this pollution."

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii's first Ultimate Sand Sifter Challenge, meanwhile, is still on. The contest encourages Oahu residents to create and build sand sifters to efficiently remove the microplastics from the sand on the beach.

"The hope is that this mural will directly inspire people to pay attention to the overwhelming amount of marine debris affecting our coastlines," said SCH executive director Kahi Pacarro. "Our Sand Sifter Challenge is meant to foster out-of-the-box thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and teamwork to tackle a growing problem that, if not addressed, will lead to an unsustainable future for Hawaii's coastlines."

The sand sifters must be human powered and built for under $300. The winning team wins a $2,500 cash prize plus an additional $2,500 to replicate five sand sifters. Submissions for the contest are due Sept. 26. Visit to learn more.


Crowdfunding works for YWCA

July 22nd, 2014

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency.

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency. Photo courtesy YWCA of Oahu.

The Blue Planet Foundation's WEfficiency crowdfunding platform has paid off for the YWCA of Oahu's Laniakea facility at 1040 Richards St.

Through Wefficiency, the YWCA was able to obtain a combination of donations and loans for nearly $15,000 for a high efficiency lighting project. The lighting upgrade is expected to shave about $8,500 a year on the electricity bill.

"The YWCA of Oahu is so humbled by the overwhelming support of the community in funding our WEfficiency campaign," said YWCA's director of fund development Wendy Chang. "The money we save on energy will go directly into the services that help to empower women from all walks of life."

A portion of savings will be used to pay back loans, with the first repayments within six months. Loanators can shift the loan to another non-profit group's campaign, if they desire, via WEfficiency.

For instance, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio, are also campaigning for energy-efficient retrofits via WEfficiency.  Damien needs another $8,000 to reach a $12,000 goal. HPR needs another $5,000 for its $11,000 goal.

If you're a non-profit interested in participating in WEfficiency, email

Posted in Blue Planet Foundation, Energy | Comments Off on Crowdfunding works for YWCA

Conservation commitments

July 18th, 2014

Kai ceremony celebrating commitments to the environment by Maui Nui Makai Network. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Kai ceremony combining ocean waters celebrating commitments to the environment by Maui Nui Makai Network. Photo by Sean Marrs.

The Hokule‘a Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage received new commitments by members of the Maui Nui Makai Network on Wednesday, July 16.

In a kai ceremony at noon, six communities of the newly formed Maui Nui Makai Network pledged new commitments to members of the voyage at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. The ceremony followed an hour-long presentation by members at the 2014 annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference.

Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III combined ocean waters from each site as a symbol of shared commitments to community-based management of the six communities that make up an ahupua‘a on Maui. These commitments were recorded in a book that will be carried on board the Hokule‘a, which are to be completed by the voyage's conclusion in 2017.

Among the Network's commitments to one another:

>> Protect and restore healthy ecosystems

>> Share and learn from their diverse experiences

>> Help one another malama (care for) their areas

>> Perpetuate Hawaiian values, including kuleana

"We are a group of like-minded people who have shared aspirations to care for our marine resources," said Ekolu Lindsey of Palanui Hiu, current chair for the network. "The ocean is the foundation of our island culture and we need it to be healthy and sustainable. We are working toward sustainable reefs and fish for our future."

Members of the Network currently include: Kipahulu ‘Ohana and Na Mamo O Mu‘olea in east Maui; Wailuku Ahupua‘a Community Managed Makai Area in central Maui; Palanui Hiu in Lahaina; Hui Maalalama O Mo‘omomomi in Molokai; and Maunalei Ahupua‘a Community Managed Makai Area in Lanai.

Members of the Maui Nui Makai Network with Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Members of the Maui Nui Makai Network with Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson, fourth from left, and Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III, right. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Posted in Green events, marine debris, Marine Life, Ocean | Comments Off on Conservation commitments

Permaculture learning

July 17th, 2014


Matthew Lynch. 

Interested in permaculture?

Permaculture, as defined by some of the "elders of permaculture," is "the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems." It's the "use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production." It's a "holistic approach to landscape design and human culture."

Permaculture specialists Hunter Heaivilin and Matthew Lynch are once again offering the Permaculture Design Certificate course in Waimanalo from July 27 to Aug. 10. Green Rows Farm will host the two-week, intensive course, which includes visits to beautiful permaculture farms, classroom education, hands-on application and a team design project for the local community.

Hunter Heaivilin.

Hunter Heaivilin.

Students learn how permaculture principles can be applied in various environments — from barren deserts to tropical jungles, urban hardscapes, backyards, schools, farms and public places.

The course will cover everything from site analysis to climate, plants, soil science, fertility management, waste recycling, architectural and landscape adaptations and more, using permaculture principles and ethics. Upon completion, students receive a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.

Both Heaivilin and Lynch have completed projects around the world. Heaivilin is currently coordinator of the Oahu Farm to School Network. Lynch is the founder of the Honolulu-based non-profit, Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.

Cost is $1,500 ($1,100 for kamaaina). Tuition includes course fees, onsite camping and meals. Discounts available for students, educators and those not staying on property. You can register at Visit to learn more or email or call 224-2462.

Matthew Lynch, below, talking about sustainability at TEDxHonolulu.

Posted in Green events, permaculture | Comments Off on Permaculture learning

Treasures of Oahu

July 16th, 2014

Mokolii Cove Pano

This beautiful panorama of Mokoli‘i Cove (Chinaman's Hat) is on display at Canon Gallery as part of nature photographer Nathan Yuen's exhibit "Treasures of Oahu" until end of July. Photo by Nathan Yuen.

Nature photographer Nathan Yuen hikes for hours to get to the most remote parts of Oahu, all in the quest to capture some of the rarest species in the Hawaiian islands. We're talking about singing kahuli (an endangered Oahu tree snail), happy-face spiders and ‘ohi‘a lehua found nowhere else in the world but in Hawaii. And, more specifically, on Oahu.

Yuen's photo exhibit, "Natural Treasures of Oʻahu — From Mauka to Kahakai," is up at Canon Gallery until the end of July.

Yuen, also commissioner of the Natural Area Reserves System Hawaii, spends weekends hiking along the spine of the Koolau and Waianae mountains looking for native snails and flowers endemic to the island of Oahu. He's interested in beautiful vistas as well as the easily overlooked diminutive details one might find along a path. On a regular basis, he enjoys visiting Makapu‘u at sunrise to see the colorful transformation of the ocean and sky at dawn, or heading to Mokoli‘i (Chinaman's Hat) and its cove.

"Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see the raw beauty of Oahu's coastlines and the native plants and seabirds that live there," he said. "It is my goal to showcase the unique plants and animals that live at these special places to give you a reason to protect them for future generations."

Find spectacular vistas of Oahu, as well as closeups of some of the unique plants and animals found only on the island of Oahu, sometimes overlooked while on the trail. Yuen takes multiple, overlapping photos to compose a large, panoramic image, such as the one above. Canon Gallery is at the Canon USA office at Ward Plaza (210 Ward Ave. #200). Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Sandy Beach cleanup Saturday

July 13th, 2014

Volunteers use a makeshift sand sifter to sift out microplastics at Sandy's Beach. The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19. Photo courtesy RevoluSun.

Volunteers use a makeshift sand sifter to sift out microplastics at Sandys. The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19. Photo courtesy RevoluSun.

RevoluSun once again invites the public to participate in what's become an annual tradition since opening its doors for business in 2009 — a beach cleanup at Sandys on Saturday, July 19. At that first cleanup in 2009, volunteers removed 900 pounds of trash from the Sandy Beach Park shoreline.

The solar company is partnering with the Surfrider Foundation's Oahu Chapter for the fifth cleanup, which takes place from 10 a.m. to noon. on Saturday. RevoluSun is offering volunteers a commemorative T-shirt and free lunch.

The mobile sand-sifter developed by local contractor Jason Tucker Hills, which is designed to separate out micro-plastics, will be back again. Last year, volunteers collected more than 400 pounds of small debris at Sandys. The tally also included more than 2,000 cigarette butts, almost 600 bottle caps and more than 300 drink cans and bottles and single-use food containers — all within 90 minutes. .

Posted in beach cleanup, marine debris | Comments Off on Sandy Beach cleanup Saturday

Monk seal hospital takes first patients

July 9th, 2014


Female monk seal pupu from Pearl and Hermes atoll. Photo courtesy Jon Brack/ NOAA Fisheries.

Female monk seal pup from Pearl and Hermes atoll. Photo courtesy Jon Brack/ NOAA Fisheries.

The first monk seal patients from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands arrived at the monk seal hospital in Kona this afternoon to get a second chance at survival.

Four seals — two yearling females, a female weaned pup and male weaned pup, were all underweight for their age and thus, less likely to survive. This is especially true for the two pups, who likely would not have survived their first year of life.

NOAA Research Vessel Hi‘ialakai, which is returning  from a 26-day cruise to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, transported the seals to the hospital. The move was possible due to a new permit that allows NOAA Fisheries to rehabilitate undernourished monk seals in medical facilities and then return them to the NWHI.

The four seals were collected at Midway Atoll, Pearl and Hermes Reef, and French Frigate Shoals. They will be fed herring and cared for over the next two months before being returned to Papahanaumokuakea, or the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Previously, scientists had to leave malnourished seals behind to fend for themselves, but now have a place to take them.

Last year, The Marine Mammal Center opened the first phase of Ke Kai Ola (The Healing Sea), a brand-new, $3.2 million facility in Kona that offers two newborn rehabilitation pens and pools, quarantine pen areas and two larger pens and pools for juvenile seals. The center, a non-profit group based in Marin, Calif. plans to add a medical lab, staff office, patient food preparation kitchen and education pavilion.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for monk seal recovery," said Charles Littnan, lead scientist for the NOAA Fisheries Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program. "In the past, we would have had to leave these animals behind in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and they would have almost certainly died. Now they get a second chance to live, grow and ensure the future of their species."

NOAA Fisheries recently deployed its annual monk seal recovery camps, in which teams of researchers monitor the seal population and help disentangle seals from marine debris. Field researchers will conduct their work at the camps until September.

Caring for and rehabilitating monk seals in captivity is no easy task, according to Marine Mammal Center and NOAA veterinarian Michelle Barbieri.

"Time is of the greatest essence, and these seals have a steep road ahead if they are to survive," she said. "Care for our new patients began the moment they were brought aboard the ship, and Ke Kai Ola will provide the healing environment to help them make it through the difficult weeks ahead. We will continue working around the clock to give these animals the medical support and nutrition the need before they are returned to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands."

Hawaiian monk seals, found only in the Hawaiian islands, are critically endangered, with a population hovering at about 1,100. Fewer than one in five Hawaiian monk seal pups in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands survive their first year due to threats like entanglement in ocean trash, changes in the food chain and predation. NOAA Fisheries is making efforts to slow the species decline.

To get updates, like the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program on Facebook.

BFO2_Pearl and Hermes Reef_male pup_Koa Matusoka

Male monk seal pup (BF02) at Pearl and Hermes Reef. Photo by Koa Matusoka/NOAA.

BFOO_Pearl and Hermes_Female pup_JonBrack

NOAA scientists help transport a female monk seal pup at Pearl and Hermes Reef. Photo by Jon Brack/NOAA.

Posted in Endangered species, Hawaiian monk seals | Comments Off on Monk seal hospital takes first patients

‘Opihi discoveries

July 5th, 2014

Scientists are mapping and monitoring the ‘opihi population in the Northwestern Hawaiian Island and believe hybridization is occurring between the yellowfoot and blackfoot ‘opihi. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Scientists are mapping and monitoring the ‘opihi population in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and believe hybridization is occurring between the yellowfoot and blackfoot ‘opihi. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Scientists on a recent expedition to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument have discovered a mingling of the yellowfoot and blackfoot ‘opihi on Mokumanamana. The good news is that the hybridization means ‘opihi, a prized delicacy in Hawaii, may be more resilient against the effects of climate change and other disturbances.

For the sixth consecutive year, members of the intertidal monitoring expedition examined the rocky shorelines of Nihoa, Mokumanamana and French Frigate Shoals. It involved walking, crawling, swimming and clinging to rocks to count, size and record all ‘opihi around the islands.

The data collected will provide good baseline information to compare with data being collected in the more populated main Hawaiian islands, according to NOAA acting deputy superintendent Hoku Johnson, who led the expedition. It will also be turned into spatial "heat maps" depicting ‘opihi abundance, size and species on each island.

In the main Hawaiian islands, ‘opihi is is serious decline.

Scientists are trying to better understand their spawning patterns, gene flow and the rate of evolution of the three species endemic to Hawaii to better manage shorelines near populated areas.


Posted in Marine Life, Papahanaumokuakea | Comments Off on ‘Opihi discoveries

Sand Sifter Challenge

July 3rd, 2014


Got creative design and build talents?

Then get ready for the first Ultimate Sand Sifter Challenge by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kupu. Both organizations are challenging contestants to design the ultimate sand sifter to remove microplastics from Hawaii's beaches. Microplastics, tiny pieces of broken-down plastic that wash ashore from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, are a hazard to marine animals that consume them.

If you've ever visited any windward Oahu beach, look down and what you may think are colorful shells are actually tiny pieces of plastic.

Deadline for online submissions is due Sept. 26.

Register with your name, affiliation, email, a phone number and then, simply, a drawing and description of your sifter design. The sifter must be human-powered (using no gas or fossil fuels) and should be designed and constructed for under $300, with an emphasis on reused, recycled and sustainable materials.

"Marine debris is going to continue washing ashore until we as global citizens drastically reduce our use of unnecessary plastics," said executive director Kahi Pacarro. "Until that time, in order for our beaches to remain the nicest in the world,  the public will need to #cleanyobeach! Sand sifters make our work easier and will promote newer ideas to make our work more efficient and educational."

Last summer, RevoluSun donated a sandsifter for a beach cleanup at Sandy's Beach. Check out their design.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii will announce the designs that have been green lighted Oct. 3. Participating individuals then have until Nov. 14 to build their sand sifters. The final competition will be held Nov. 15 at Kailua Beach Park. Winner gets $2,500 plus an additional $2,500 to build their sand sifter for partner organizations that clean Oahu's coastlines.

Can you design and build a sand sifter to separate out microplastics? Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Can you design and build a sand sifter to separate out microplastics? Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Posted in beach cleanup, marine debris, Ocean, Plastic | Comments Off on Sand Sifter Challenge

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