Archive for the ‘Ocean’ Category

Keep the Sea Free of Debris art contest

October 15th, 2014


The "Keep the Sea Free of Debris" art contest is on.

NOAA Marine Debris invites students from Kindergarten to 8th grade to create artwork that shows 1) how marine debris impacts the oceans (and Great Lakes) and 2) what you are doing to help prevent marine debris.

The contest officially starts today (Wed., Oct. 15). Students have until Nov. 17 to submit entries (postmark date).

The goal of the contest is to raise awareness. Winning entries will be featured in NOAA's 2016 Marine Debris calendar. To learn more about marine debris, visit

Each entry must include a piece of artwork and description, to be filled out on the entry form. The entries must be on a single sheet of 8.5-by-11-inch paper, landscape direction, using any art medium including colored pencils, crayons and paint. However, the artwork must be hand-drawn by the student. Computer graphics will not be accepted.

The entries can be mailed to:

Marine Debris Art Contest
ATTN: Asma Mahdi
NOAA Marine Debris Program
1305 East-West Highway Rm #10203
SSMC4, 10th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Click here for complete contest rules and to download an entry form.

Expanding a monument

August 21st, 2014


Should the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument be expanded?

President Barack Obama announced at an ocean conference in June his intention to expand the monument's boundaries from 50 to 200 miles from shore, using his executive authority, as reported in the Washington Post.

The total area covered would more than double the monument from about 83,000 square miles to more than 755,000 square miles, west and south of Hawaii, making it the largest network of protected areas on Earth.

PRIA Map_Credit_Pew

President Obama is expected to make a decision after public input, though there is no specified timeline or date in which he will do so yet.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality, on behalf of NOAA and FWS, invited the public to a town hall meeting Aug. 11 at Ala Moana Hotel. Comments were also accepted via email until Aug. 15.

There was overwhelming support from Hawaii, according to environmental activists.

More than 200 attended, and roughly 50 commented publicly, including individuals from Maui, Molokai, Kauai and Miloli‘i on the Big Island, the last traditional fishing village in Hawaii. The large majority were in favor of expanding the monument to protect the ecosystem from the shore to the deep sea as well as to create a refuge for endangered species. Also, to keep the area safe from drilling and mining.

More than 135,000 U.S. citizens submitted letters, 1,500 from Hawaii residents. More than 30 non-profits including the Sierra Club Hawai‘i, Conservation Council for Hawaii, KAHEA, Surfrider Hawaii and others sent a group letter in support.

Some opposition came from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery  Management because of concerns from commercial fishermen.

The monument was established by George W. Bush in 2009, covering roughly 83,000 square miles, which extend 50 nautical miles from the shores of  seven islands and atolls: Howland, Baker, Jarvis islands and Johnson, Wake and Palmyra Atolls and Kingman Reef.

Collectively, the Pacific Remote Islands are home to 14 million seabirds of 19 species, 22 species of marine mammals, seven of which are endangered, including the blue whale, m ore than 240 seamounds and some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world.

It is also home to some of the healthiest populations of green and hawksbill sea turtles.

"By protecting the entire ecosystem from the shore to the deep sea, we ensure that all the links in the food web remain intact," said Alan Friedlander, director for the Fisheries Ecology Research Lab at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.


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.

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.

NRDC's annual beach report

June 25th, 2014


The Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on clean water at beaches across the U.S. is out. Hawaii had two that ranked among the 35 "superstars." Photo by Nina Wu.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on clean water at beaches across the U.S. is out, Hawaii had two that ranked among the 35 "superstars" for water quality, but water pollution continues to be a problem in Hawaii and nationwide. Photos by Nina Wu.

First, the good news.

Two Hawaii  beaches – Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island and Po‘ipu Beach Park on Kauai —  made it to the Natural Resource Defense Council's list of 35 "superstar" beaches for consistently meeting water quality safety thresholds.

Now, the bad news.

Serious water pollution continues to be a problem at many  U.S. seashores, with massive stormwater runoff and sewage overflows being the largest known sources.

Ten percent of all water quality samples collected last year from 3,500 coastal and Great Lakes beaches in the U.S. contained bacteria levels that failed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's most protective benchmark for swimmer safety. So contamination levels at the nation's beaches remain essentially unchanged from last year.

Hawaii ranked No. 8  (out of 30), with samples exceeding the benchmark by seven percent in 2013. Want to know which beaches had the highest percent exceedance rates of the Beach Action Value (BAV) of 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units per 100 ml marine water in a single sample?

Waimea recreation Pier State Park (44 percent), Hanalei Beach Park (34 percent) and Lumaha‘i Beach (33 percent) on Kauai; Analani Pond (30 percent) on the Big Island; and Kahanamoku Beach in Honolulu (36 percent).

Hey! Wasn't Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki (the one near Hilton Hawaiian Village) recently ranked No. 1 by Dr. Beach? Go figure.

Now, the seven percent exceedance rate is actually an increase, the highest level to date, in the past five years, which generally hovered between 3 and 4 percent.

We all know that sewage overspill is a major problem at some of our most beautiful windward and North Shore beaches, and continue to be a problem. When the water's brown, stay out. The state department of health is hopefully posting warnings and advisories on a regular basis.

There are also 17 repeat offenders at beaches from California to New York that exhibit chronic water pollution problems. Luckily, none of those beaches were in Hawaii.

“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick. To help keep us healthy at the beach and stem the tide of water pollution, our government leaders can finalize a critical proposal – the Clean Water Protection Rule – to restore vital protections for the streams and wetlands that help sustain clean beaches.”

The results and full report are available in the NRDC's annual "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches."

You can also find your zip code on a searchable map at


World Oceans Day at Honolulu Museum

June 3rd, 2014

med_logoWorld Oceans Day is Sunday, June 8.

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.

This year, the Honolulu Museum of Art is teaming up with PangeaSeed to present World Oceans Day Hawai‘i — a multimedia event from June 6 to 12 connecting local marine conservationists with filmmakers, scientists and ocean enthusiasts. The Conservation Council for Hawai‘i presents the sea keiki fun zone 9:30 a.m. June 8 at Doris Duke Theatre for kids ages 7 to 11.

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.

For updates, visit World Oceans Day Hawaii on Facebook.


Ocean trash: a people problem

May 21st, 2014


The tally from the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup is in, and no surprise that cigarette butts still top the list of the Top 10 items collected. Candy wrappers came in second, followed by plastic beverage bottles and plastic bottle caps.

Volunteers across the globe picked up more than 12 million pounds of trash during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup in September , the most ever collected in the event's history, according to a report released today (May 21, 2014). The new total, according to the Ocean Conservancy, is an indicator of the tremendous amount of ocean trash found on shorelines, in the ocean and waterways around the globe.

The Conservancy, while celebrating the volunteer effort, is also using this occasion to make a worldwide appeal to find solutions to stopping the trash that ends up in the ocean at its many sources.

"Ocean trash truly is a global problem that affects human health and safety, endangers marine wildlife, and costs states and nations countless millions in wasted resources and lost revenue," said Andreas Merkl, Ocean Conservancy's president and CEO. "At its core, however, ocean trash is not an ocean problem; it is a people problem — perpetuated by the often unwitting practices that industry and people have adopted over time. But I am convinced we can solve it if we have the audacity to confront the problem head-on."

The full trash index is available online.

To put it in another perspective:

>> Trash collected by volunteers would fill roughly 38 Olympic size swimming pools, or weigh about the same as 823 male African elephants.

>> The amount of fishing line collected would go up and over Mt. Everest five times.

>> The number of bottle caps found would carpet three football fields, laid side by side.

>> There were enough items found to furnish an entire studio apartment, including an air conditioner, sink, fridge, stove,  microwave, washing machine, couch, tables and chairs, TV set, coffee table, rug, curtains and mattresses!

>> There were also most of the items needed for a wedding, as well as items necessary for caring for a baby. More unusual items included a plastic eyeball, 1904 typewriter, blonde wig and trampoline.

What you can do? Here are 10 Things You Can Do to help keep the seas trash-free:


Helping Vans Triple Crown Go Eco

November 19th, 2013

Helping Triple Van Crown surfers and surf-goers recycle and tread responsibly on the ocean. Courtesy photo.

Helping Vans Triple Crown surfers and surf-goers recycle and tread responsibly on the ocean. Courtesy photo.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is collaborating with Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu's North Shore to make this year's series of professional surfing events more eco-friendly and environmentally responsible.

The non-profit built custom, recycling and compost stations which will be on hand daily while the surf contests are going on. Members will also talk-story with event-goers about the impacts of plastic on coastal pollution. brought Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii on board as part of their strategy to certify the Vans Triple Crown as a Deep Blue Surfing Event, which is a trademarked label for events with a certain set of green guidelines that focus on reducing waste, energy, transportation and impacts on climate change while increasing community support.

SCHtriplecrownTriple Crown, now in its 39th year, brings surfers and spectators from throughout the world to Oahu's North Shore, continuing a rich, surfing heritage of progression, high-performance and power surfing.

Throughout Triple Crown contest events (which started Nov. 12 and run until Dec. 20), including the Reef Hawaiian Pro, Vans World Cup and Billabong Pro, members of SCH will maintain the recycling and composting stations with the goal of diverting 40 percent of trash from the landfill and H-Power.

The crew will also educate competitors, staff and spectators on ways to reduce their impacts on the coastlines by sharing tips on reducing plastic and the destructive impact of single-use plastics.

SCH is also helping to reduce transportation costs.

Recyclables will be donated to families on the North Shore, while food scraps will be composted.

"Partnering with the Vans Triple Crown to increase awareness of the detriments of our overconsumption of plastic is directly in line with our mission of inspiring coastal stewardship," said SCH executive director Kahi Pacarro. "We believe cleaning the beach starts at home, and by encouraging the reduction of waste we can also improve coast quality. Fewer items entering the waste stream equals fewer items able to wash ashore."

To learn more about Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, visit

John Kelly Environmental Awards

November 16th, 2013

John Kelly awards print w lower logoThe Surfrider Foundation's Oahu chapter celebrates its 11th annual John Kelly Environmental Awards from 6 to 10:30 p.m. at Waimea Valley tonight (Saturday, Nov. 16).

Besides live music by Taimane and Cynth & the What's His Faces, dinner will be provided by Chef Thomas Naylor, with libations courtesy of Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Kona Brewing Co. There will also be a silent auction. Proceeds benefit Surfrider Oahu and their efforts to preserve our coastline.

The annual awards dinner celebrates John Kelly, the legendary waterman and environmental leader who started Save Our Surf and fought to protect Hawaii's coastlines from overdevelopment. Kellyl and SOS helped save more than 140 surf sites in Hawaii.

Visit to purchase tickets online.

This year's awardees, selected for their work to bring about positive changes while protecting the marine environment, are:

>> Lifetime Achievement Award: Denise Antolini of the University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Law, Regents' Medalist for Excellence in Teaching. Antolini is being honored for her recent and ongoing research and dedication to environmental law and conduct concerning local and international coastlines.

>> Hawaii-based Company Award: Black Cat Salon + Spa is being recognized for their efforts to reduce waste and reuse building materials as well as their environmentally friendly product line, Aveda. They participate in local beach cleanups and Aveda's Annual Earth Month.

>> Professional Surfer Award: Crystal Thornburg-Homcy of Haleiwa is an all-around ocean athlete and an ambassador for Patagonia. The accomplished longboarder holds a degree in Environmental Sciences, and also bodysurfs, freedives, kayaks and paddleboards. She and her husband, Dave Homcy, run an organic produce company called Crave Greens.

No Butts About It

October 14th, 2013

This cigarette butt, with fresh pink lipstick on it, was on the sand at Kaimana Beach earlier this month, shortly after "Smoking is Prohibited" signs went  up. Photo by Nina Wu.

Someone littered this cigarette butt, with fresh pink lipstick, on the sand at Kaimana Beach earlier this month, shortly after "Smoking is Prohibited" signs went up. Kaimana Beach is now a smoke-free beach. All city beaches and parks will be smoke-free starting Jan. 1, 2014. Photo by Nina Wu. Oct. 5, 2013.

One of my earliest tweets ever was that cigarette butts on the beach are my pet peeve. I tweeted it again on Earth Day this year.

Ask anyone who has ever participated in a beach cleanup and they will tell you — hands down — that cigarette butts are, by far, the most frequently littered item picked up. Ocean Conservancy, which organizes International Coastal Cleanup Day, listed cigarette butts as the No. 1 item cleaned up from beaches worldwide in its 2012 Ocean Trash Index 2.1 million, to be exact.

They are also a pain to pick up because they are small and filthy (they've been in someone's mouth, plus they're made of plastic, which never breaks down, in addition to nasty chemicals) and can get buried in the sand. Besides plastic debris (which you need a sifter to get out), they are the most annoying piece of litter to clean from the beach.

So it's about time that Honolulu passed a law prohibiting smoking at our beaches. Smoking is already prohibited at pretty much the entire sweep of Waikiki beaches, including Kaimana Beach, Kapahulu Groin, Kuhio Beach as well as Sandy Beach Park. Smoking is also prohibited on the grass and picnic areas of all of Kapiolani Regional Park. At Ala Moana Beach Park, smoking is only prohibited on the sandy area, but the entire park will be smoke-free starting Jan. 1. Hanauma Bay has prohibited smoking within the nature preserve since 1993.

I understand that people have the right to smoke, if they want to, even though it's harmful for their health, in the name of freedom of choice. I do believe that there are many responsible smokers who take the care to put out their butts in the trash can or an ashtray, and that not all are littering the beach. But time and time again, smokers clearly are littering our beaches. The evidence is right there in the sand, by the hundreds and thousands over the past few decades, polluting our oceans and marine life.

That's where smokers' rights stop — when they are causing harm to others and to the environment. Furthermore, Oahu's beautiful beaches should not serve as a giant ashtray for locals as well as visitors from around the world. If we keep letting it happen, our beaches won't be beautiful, but blighted — with butts. The damage extends to the coral reef and all the life that it supports.

Starting Jan. 1, all city beaches, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, athletic fields, tennis courts and bus stops will be smoke-free, as well. To see where all of Honolulu's parks are, visit this link. The fine is $100 for the first offense, up to $500 for the third. Honolulu Police Department will enforce the law, but let's hope people use common courtesy and take their smoking elsewhere.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is also banning all tobacco products, including cigars, cigarettes and e-cigarettes, on its campus starting next year.

Honolulu is not the first to implement smoke-free beaches. Other municipalities — from Manhattan Beach, Calif. to New York  City have done so, too, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Click here for a full list. France's Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, also said she would like to see smoking banned at parks and beaches (coincidentally, it seems, one day after Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bills 25 and 28).

Kudos to all of the hard-working volunteers and organizations, like B.E.A.C.H., Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii who work so hard to keep our beaches clean.

To learn more about the law, visit If you have questions, call Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at 808-768-3003.