Reef cleanups where you don't end up finding much trash are always bittersweet. Part of the fun of joining a reef cleanup is the feeling of an aquatic treasure hunt, where right around the next coral head you might score the find of the day. Maybe a tire full of glass bottles? Maybe a suitcase that fell off a boat? Or maybe just hundreds of feet of fishing line that's strangling it's ways around the coral. At the July installment of our Blue'Aina reef cleanup to raise money for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, our ocean stewards were robbed of the glory of an exciting, underwater find. Then again, these are the results we hope to find whenever we jump in the ocean, and over the course of at least 75 reef cleanups over the last 4 years in Maui, we've begun to a notice a marked decrease in the amount of marine debris.
This past Sunday's sail to Olowalu was an example of all that hard work, as a boat full of nearly 60 volunteers could hardly find any trash. The same couldn't be said for Lahaina Harbor, however, which was still sleeping beneath a blanket of trash left over from 4th of July revelers. While waiting for the Blue‘aina boat to load, our volunteers grabbed some gloves and garbage bags and jumped in to do their part, and it's always amazing to see how much trash can be collected in a short period of time.
Even though the garbage was found on land—as opposed to out at sea—we know that everything that happens on land will eventually end up in the ocean. In many ways, cleaning the area around Lahaina Harbor is a pre-emptive cleanup of the reef, and if we can keep this garbage out of the ocean then we have already done our part.
There was more to the day than just trash, however, as the July 6th sail was also an event to raise money for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. Thanks to the support of our many volunteers, as well as Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop in Olowalu who generously donated food, we were able to present this awesome non-profit with a $500 check.
Cheryl King offered an informative talk about some of the non-profits recent projects, and in addition to conservation measures such as turtle and monk seal monitoring , the HWF also spearheads volunteerism initiatives through a recent partnership with Bluecology. The Blue‘aina team also learned about volunteer opportunities for working with Hawaii Wildlife Fund, and as is the case with our Sunday cleanups, it was an educational, informative, and inspiring day of acting as stewards for our ocean.
Mahalo again to all of our volunteers who continue to make this program a success, and we look forward to seeing you on our August 3 sail to benefit the Pink Paddlers of Maui. Aloha!