In a kai ceremony at noon, six communities of the newly formed Maui Nui Makai Networkpledged 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, fourth from left, and Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III, right. Photo by Sean Marrs.
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 on a recent expedition to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monumenthave 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.
World Oceans Day was conceived in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and born following the passage of a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2008. For those of us who live in Hawaii, surrounded by ocean, the day should have more than a passing significance.
There will be art exhibits, Sleep with the Fishes: Kozyndan and Olek(June 6 to 12, Honolulu Museum of Art School), as well as a film festival exploring the ocean depths, conservation issues and all the life in it, followed by panel discussions.
Check out "Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe a la Hache," "Sushi: The Global Catch," "Revolution" (see trailer above), "Shadow Reef," "Sustainable by Design: Volcom Pipe Pro 2013+2014," "Malama Maunalua, "Mantas Last Dance," "Plastic Paradise" and "Extinction Soup," among many others.
Eight-year-old twins Tristan and Aidan Smith hold up signs Saturday (May 24) across from Sea Life Park for the international Empty the Tanks movement. Courtesy Empty the Tanks FB page.
Local protestors took part in an international Empty the Tanks event on Saturday, May 24, across the street from Sea Life Park to raise awareness over marine animals in captivity.
It was the second annual Empty the Tanks event, with this year's protest represented by organizations including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, PETA, Ocean Defender Hawaii, Pangea Seed and Deep Ecology Dive Center.
My first thought upon seeing the documentary, was, "Well, we don't have orcas in captivity in Hawaii." We have a multi-million-dollar tourism industry centered around observing Hawaiian humpback whales in the wild, with federal regulations in place to protect them. But we do have dolphins and pilot whales in captivity at Sea Life Parkon Oahu. And dolphins at resorts for the popular DolphinQuest swim-with-dolphins programs that I've had friends and family rave about.
What makes that any different? I'm not so sure, really.
Before "Blackfish," another documentary (Academy Award winning) called "The Cove" came out in 2009, detailing the annual, bloody slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, where some are captured and sold to amusement parks. Former Flipper dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry is a convert, telling people not to support any of these programs. I think before "Blackfish," people tended to say, "Oh, it's those animal rights people" again. But now it's more mainstream. If anything, there's more awareness.
The thing is that people go to see dolphins and whales because they're curious about them, and from a distance, also, because they love animals. If these marine mammals can't go back into the wild and survive, though, where could they stay and how would that be funded? Philanthropical foundations?
Sea Shepherd crew member Deborah Bassett said in a press release: "I have been to the infamous killing cove in Taiji, Japan to oppose the brutal slaughter of dolphins that take place there annually. People need to make the connection between dolphin captivity and the slaughter, an issue that was highlighted in the Academy Award winning film 'The Cove.' The message we want to get across to both locals and tourists here in Hawaii is do not buy a ticket to these shows or support any establishments with captive whales or dolphins, including Sea Life Park. After all, nature has given us the great fortune of seeing these amazingly intelligent animals across our island chain; there is simply no justification for this type of enslavement here or anywhere on the planet in 2014."
Sea Life Park issued the following statement through their public relations firm:
"As a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, we are dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals in order to provide an enriching educational experience for our park guests. Our animals receive constant attention and affection, and the best food, shelter and veterinary care, including on-site professionals and world-renowned experts who are on retainer to the Park. None of our dolphins on display at Sea Life Park have been acquired through drive hunts. The majority of our dolphins were born in captivity through a responsible breeding program."
True, Sea Life Park, which has been around 50 years, does a lot of educational programs and has a green sea turtle breeding program which regularly releases baby turtles into the wild. I wrote about it once. And once, a few years ago, I went to Sea Life Park as part of an Earth Day event after a beach cleanup.
But I think twice about it now. What do you think about dolphins and whales in captivity?
While five groups (of about four students each) watched 30-minute video clips, the project will gather more than 200 hours of footage to pore through (swimming, sleeping, playing, eating). The students are enlisted to help scientists put together a short video to present to the community as well as to be the future voice of monk seals.
It's a great idea — taking science out of its "scientific research bubble" and out into the community.
"I think the main takeaway for my students was the first hand experience watching un-touched footage," wrote teacher Dani Padilla in an e-mail. "They got to DO rather than be told. They were not just having the 'facts' fed to them through the grapevine. Instead, they were the ones collecting the data and watching a monk seal pass up hundreds of fish before he decided to eat anything...."
Castle High School teacher Dani Padilla with students as they examine footage taken from the National Geographic crittercam mounted on Kermit the monk seal's back. Photo by Craig Kojima.
Now, back to Kermit. You can't help loving Kermit when you see him. Monk Seal Foundation volunteer Barbara Billand, who provided the courtesy photo above, admits he's her favorite of the many monk seals she keeps tabs on. He's often found at White Plains Beach, snoozing in the sun.
"He's a very cool seal," she said. "Very laid back, a gentleman."
Monk seals can live between 25 to 30 years, dive for an average of 6 minutes when feeding and eat a varied diet of fish, octopus, crabs, shrimp and lobster. They grow up to seven feet long and weigh 400 to 600 pounds. They can also travel long distances.
While the monk seals may not be keen about having these crittercams attached (who knows what they would say if they could?), NOAA scientist Charles Littnan said in a Feb. 12 FB post that the new technology will provide valuable data about their foraging behavior (more than satellite tags and scat analysis can offer) as well as their habitat. It also offers potential solutions for fisheries.
It can also help dispel myths about the critically endangered monk seals, one of them being that they consume a lot. First-hand footage can show, rather than just tell the community these facts. "I'm not trying to create love for the seals," said Littnan, "Just knowledge, with the facts."
If you're interested in learning more about Hawaii's monk seals or volunteering, check out the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program's Facebook Page. If you see a monk seal sleeping on shore, do not approach, touch or feed it. If you see one in distress, call 888-256-9840.
Capt. Dave Anderson of Dana Point, Calif., captured this beautiful footage of a mother and baby Hawaiian humpback whale off the waters of Maui during a recent trip in February. Stay tuned to the second half of this five-minute video, which starts with a dolphin stampede in Dana Point.
He captured the footage by drone – or quadcopter — during a vacation on Maui. The mother and baby approached his boat off Maui, says Capt. Dave, and he made sure to maintain a respectful distance while capturing the footage.
"I have not been this excited about a new technology since we built our underwater viewing pods on our whale watching boat," he said.
Three days after getting a quadcopter, Anderson said he was filming the dolphin stampede off Dana Point, Calif. He also captured some beautiful footage of a gray whale, but had a mishap in which he lost the quadcopter after it nicked an antennae and dropped in the water. Now he makes sure to put a flotation device on his quad.
There is also footage of three gray whales migrating down the coast off San Clemente, Calif.
On Maui, he said he parked his boat a distance from the mother and calf to watch them, spending pretty about a half day out there. A male escort whale was also out there, watching after the pair. He deployed his quadcopter (a DJI Phantom 2 with a small GoPro) four times — at 15-minute intervals each.
From the surface, it looked as if the mother was diving down and leaving her calf behind. From the drone, Anderson saw that the mother whale was just resting right under the surface of the water, with the calf hovering nearby.
"They were just interacting with each other in such an intimate way," he said. "I think the most beautiful part of that film is what I shot in Hawaii."
Anderson, a whale watch captain with nearly 20 years of experience, also warns others to only attempt filming by drone if familiar with whale behavior and laws. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is currently reviewing drones and their use around whales.
Volunteers are welcome to help remove three types of invasive algae from the reef behind Waikiki aquarium during public beach cleanups scheduled from February through October.
The Waikiki Aquarium recently received a $43,951 Community Restoration Partnershipgrant to continue its Waikiki Coastal Restoration efforts and research. The alien algae — Acanthophora spicifera, Gracilaria salicornia and Avrainvillea amadelpha — choke the reefs and crowd out native limu. They're considered a marine menace and threat to the beauty of Waikiki.
Beach cleanups will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, as well as on Saturdays, March 29, May 3, June 28 and Oct. 25.
"This grant allows us to further engage the public in our conservation efforts, which is a very important goal for us in 2014," said Aquarium director Andrew Rossiter. "We encourage everyone who has an interest in the ocean to join us for a rewarding Saturday morning out on the reef."
Volunteers will first be trained on how to differentiate between invasive and native algae plants followed by hands-on removal experience on the reef using snorkels, paddleboards and buckets. Dr. Celia Smith and her team from the University of Hawaii Botany Department will provide the training. Starbucks and Diamond Bakery are providing coffee and snacks for volunteers.
Waikiki Aquarium's volunteers have removed thousands of pounds of invasive algae from the reef behind the aquarium over the decade in an effort to protect the native marine plants.
The baby monk seal (P01) is the pup of Honey Girl (R5AY) who was rescued after a hooking incident in November 2012 near Sunset Beach on Oahu. Not only has she survived, but she's given birth! Monk Seal Foundation volunteers have been doing all they can to make sure both mom and pup are protected while educating visitors at the site.
Honey Girl beat the odds by surviving a serious injury, which is why the Hawaiian monk seal volunteers and supporters are celebrating. See this post from Monk Seal Mania.
Learn all about the exciting scientific and cultural work going on in Hawaii and the Pacific on a new, reality-based show, "Voice of the Sea," which debuts Jan. 5 on KFVE.
World paddleboard champion and shark researcher Kanesa Duncan Seraphinhosts the show, which profiles local science and cultural celebrities while inspiring students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The first episode will feature Kimokeo Kapahulehua, president of the Maui Fishpond Association, who will talk about restoration efforts there. Seraphin also interviews experts from the Tara expedition, and experts on aquaponics, oysters, algae and volcanoes.
"Voice of the Sea" will air 6 p.m. Sundays on KFVE (Channels 5 and 1005).
Hiwahiwa, a female Hawaiian green sea turtle, has made the journey from Laniakea to the French Frigate shoals several times. Here, she basks at Laniakea Beach. Photo by Nina Wu.
I remember the first time visiting theHawaiian green sea turtles at Laniakea beach on Oahu's North Shore more than a decade ago. It wasn't as crowded as it is now, with a constant stream of visitors. There were visitors, yes, but not the sheer volume that there is now.
It was magical to see these magnificent creatures basking so peacefully on the shores of the beach. I recall getting into the water as well, and seeing some of the honu feeding on limu on the rocks. I knew then to get out of the way, while still admiring them. It's no wonder that an estimated 600,000 visitors make the trek to the North Shore, park in the makeshift dirt lot across the street and dart across Kamehameha Highway to get a glimpse of the sea turtles, too.
The wonderful thing is that they do so out of curiosity and hopefully, love for the honu, too.
A small bus dropped a group of Japanese tourists off across from Laniakea Beach to get a glimpse of the Hawaiian green sea turtles. Photo by Nina Wu.
Thanks to volunteers from Malama Na Honu, the turtles are watched over by people who do what they do out of a love for turtles, too, and a desire to see them survive for future generations to see. On a recent visit, a little girl darted past the rope border and in front of a basking turtle to reach her father. Everyone gasped. Luckily, there was no harm done.