Aside from the snorkeling, the sunshine, and the empowering feeling of cleaning an island reef, one of the best parts of our Blue‘Aina reef cleanups is being around people who love Maui. On our most recent cleanup to Mala Wharf, we had the pleasure of hearing spirited testimony from a a few of these dedicated residents.
From left to right in the photo above, Cortney Marquette of the Monk Seal Foundation gave us the rundown on threats that are facing Hawaiian Monk Seals, as well as a list of ways to report a sighting and ensure their preservation. Tamara Paltin—President of the Save Honolua Coalition and candidate for Mayor of Maui—informed us of the steps that still need to be taken for protecting the fragile bay. And Tim Lara of Hawaiian Paddle Sports —the corporate sponsor of our June sail who made the generous financial donations—championed the importance of island activity providers accepting their kuleana to help take care of our resources. Both Hawaiian Paddle Sports and Trilogy Excursions are members of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association, an organization that honors Hawaii businesses following sustainable, ecological guidelines.
All of this took place on a sunny day at busy Mala Wharf, a site with a notoriously dirty reef due to its heavy traffic and use. This June cleanup was no exception, and in addition to the bucket full of fishing line and trash, a large car battery was also hauled from the sand channel next to the reef.
During the cleanup itself we visited two different spots at Mala: One on the outside section of the reef in front of the Jodo Mission, and one on the inside section of the reef that is adjacent to the old Mala pier.
What our cleanup concluded was that the outside reef is relatively free of trash, but the section of reef that parallels the boat channel is a catch-all for marine debris.
Part of the problem has to do with the stream that empties next to the shoreline. During the days of the ancient Hawaiians, Kahoma Stream was full of slippery rocks that were home to o‘opu and shrimp. These small fish would cling to the rocks with suction cups on their stomachs, and they would gradually work their way up the stream from the ocean up towards the mountains.
When the streambed was completely paved over, however, not only did the native o‘opu disappear, but a concrete luge was essentially created for wayward mauka debris. Today, every bit of rubbish and runoff that collects in the Kahoma streambed will eventually make its way down to the ocean and out towards the sensitive reef.
Luckily the Blue‘aina team was present to pull some of the trash from the reef, but the fact remains that whatever happens on land will make its way out towards the sea, and the process of protecting our fragile reefs can be started by protecting the land.
In addition to the cleanup at Mala Wharf, we also trolled a section of shoreline to collect a sample to be tested for microplastics. As part of a partnership with Algalita Marine Research Institute, Trilogy is collecting samples of nearshore ocean water which is then tested for plastics and debris.
Even though our Maui ocean appears blue—and in many ways is still very healthy—preliminary data has shown that the samples we've provided contain between 50-150 pieces of plastic! Even though this number is relatively low when compared to the U.S. West Coast, it's still an indicator that our clean Maui waters have been inundated by ruinous plastics.
Maui Brewing Company once again stepped up to generously serve as our food sponsor, and we eagerly anticipate the opening of their Kihei brew house over the course of the upcoming year.
Mahalo to all of our ocean stewards who made this event a success, and a big shout out to Hawaiian Paddle Sports for their philanthropy and generous donations. Aloha!