If there is one word that the Blue'Aina volunteers will remember from our April 27th sail, it's the way that the ocean seemed to blossom with membranes in the form of thousands of jellyfish. Before you run for the vinegar, however, understand that the jellies that colonized Coral Gardens were a species referred to as "Comb Jellies," a small, gelatinous, fascinating little critter which exude a rainbow-like similarity to bioluminescence.
In short, once you get over the initial concern, you come to realize it's actually pretty cool.
The jellyfish aside, April 27th, 2014 was another uplifting day of supporting the community and actively working to clean the Maui shoreline. The area off of the pali sea cliffs is always a trove of marine debris, mostly due to the popularity of fishing and the stiff offshore winds which carry debris towards the water. Tying to a mooring by Coral Gardens—the popular snorkeling spot to the north of the tunnel which is often frequented by afternoon charter boats—it didn't take long before our volunteers were returning to the boat with fists full of trash.
Whenever people go fishing in this area, they often have to cut their lines which have become entangled on coral heads or rocks.
Unfortunately, this often results in large amounts of tackle being embedded into the reef. It also results in spools of fishing line becoming tangled around the coral heads, and a frustrated fisherman yanking on his line can result in a broken coral head.
Luckily, the Blue'Aina team of reef volunteers was keen to tackle the problem, and our team of free divers were able to return with pounds of tackle and debris.
Another notable find was a large beach towel that was smothering a section of reef. Resting in about 20 feet of water, the towel presumably fell off of a boat which had brought snorkelers the day before. When we pulled the towel up out of the water it almost looked brand new!
One question that we always ask ourselves whenever we survey our haul, is how long would this trash have sat down there if we didn't go to pick it up? How many yards of fishing line would be strangling their way around the reef?
Though it's only a small corner of one reef which we cleaned on this particular outing, it's the steady, sustained, and consistent efforts that can make a difference in long term health. If we pull a small amount of trash from the reef on every cleanup we organize, the cumulative amount of collected debris can have a major long-term impact.
Hence, we press on.
Food for the event was graciously provided by Beach Bums Bar and Grill (located in the Ma'alaea Harbor Shops), and Beach Bums has been a consistent supporter of our cleanup efforts since the start of the Blue'Aina campaign. We know a couple of volunteers headed over to Beach Bums for some "pau hanas" after the cleanup was through, and you should check them out during your next trip to Ma'alaea for some BBQ, drinks, and good times.
In addition to working to clean the reef, The Fairmont Kea Lani made a generous donation of $1,000 to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. Megan Haertling, Director of Public Relations at the Fairmont Kea Lani, informed the group of the sustainable initiatives that the hotel has worked to integrate, such as donating all of their HI-5 beverage containers to help out local charities. They have also opted to donate their partially-used hygiene supplies (such as shampoo and soap) to an organization called Clean the World, who help children in developing countries on issues of hygiene and health. The Fairmont Kea Lani has always been a great supporter of our Blue'Aina reef cleanup program, and we love to see members of the hospitality industry partnering to protect the island.
Speaking of protecting the island, the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust had representatives aboard who let us know about ways to become involved in the program. With the recent purchase of land out in Nu'u, and the plot of land they continue to maintain along the shoreline in Waihe'e, the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust now has 17,000 acres of undeveloped land which twill be preserved in perpetuity. They are an amazing organization doing beneficial work to preserve our natural beauty, and we are honored to have been able to lend a hand in helping to raise these funds.
Finally, we were also joined by the water quality team from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, who tested water from the cleanup site for salinity, temperature, turbidity, and pH. This citizen science is an important factor in monitoring the health of our ocean, and we also collected an open ocean sample which will be analyzed for microplastics and debris.
We want to offer a big "mahalo" to everyone who joined us on the sail, and we are currently accepting bookings for our next clean up on Sunday, May 11. Aloha, and a hui hou!