Coral Health with EOR and the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
With the start of the fall season, Trilogy is back to hosting floating workshops and reef cleanups. For the month of September, Trilogy hosted the non-profit Eyes of the Reef (EOR) for a workshop on coral health. The corporate sponsor was the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas and the food was provided by Trilogy Excursions. 60 volunteers met at Lahaina Harbor and we conducted our traditional land based cleanup of the surrounding area. This is where we find the majority of the trash for the day and we have a cigarette butt competition. Whoever can collect the most cigarette butts in 20min wins. Our record is over 200 butts! Due to the large south swell that was producing overhead waves along the coastline of Maui, the Blue'Aina group decided to head to the neighboring island, Lana'i. The snorkel designation was Club Lana'i which sits on the east facing shore of the island. Club Lana'i is an old day tripper resort that closed down in 1996. While we didn’t find any trash on this reef, it served as a perfect classroom to learn about coral and the diseases they face.
Upon arriving at the reef, we heard from Donna Brown and Cynthia Matzke, representatives from Eyes of the Reef. The goal of the EOR program is to, “inform, engage and train community members, ocean user groups, managers, NGOs and others in the identification of coral bleaching, disease or COTS outbreaks and aquatic invasive species. The EOR network is a broad outreach and education program that helps to provide the critical first tier of Hawaii’s Rapid Response Contingency Plan and promote community stewardship of our valuable marine resources”. Hawaii’s reef encompasses a large area and it can be difficult for resource managers to monitor all areas. Eyes of the Reef relies on volunteers and reef users to be the “eyes on the reef” collecting citizen science data and observations on coral bleaching, disease, the crown of thorns outbreaks, and invasive species outbreaks. The EOR is found on all the main Hawaiian Islands and they offer free training to volunteers. Head over to their website for more information on how to become a volunteer.
Hawaii sits at the northern most limit of coral distribution in the Indo-Pacific region. Due to this Hawaii has less than 80 species of coral, compared to tropical Indonesia and the Philippines where there are over 500 coral species found. The three main species of coral we find in Hawaii are; Porites lobata, Montipora capitata, and Pocillopora meandrina.
To learn more about what coral is, check out the Trilogy blog post Know Your Coral.
The Westin recently opened a new resort villa called Nanea Ocean Villas who sponsored this month's Blue'Aina event. The Westin stands on three pillars; culture, community, and sustainability. The Westin properties are a long supporter of Trilogy’s Blue'Aina campaign, have a positive reputation within the Maui community, and continually strive to be an environmentally aware business. The Westin Nanea brought out ten volunteers for the Blue'Aina trip to share their story and help the community.
It was eye opening to learn from the EOR representatives about the current state of our coral reefs in Hawaii. Much of the information was new even to our kama’aina volunteers. The month of September has the warmest sea surface temperatures every year. As the summer heat gradually builds up in the ocean over the summer months, it peaks in September before dropping back down. For this reason, it is valuable to make observations and collect data on coral health during this time. Data is collected year around providing scientists with enough background data for them to compare/contrast each year and identify extreme events such as the coral bleaching event of 2015. With companies and nonprofits like these working together, the community of Maui continues to grow stronger and become more conservation minded.
Trilogy hosts Blue’Aina events the first Sunday of each month and we only have a handful of events left for 2017. We hope you get a chance to make it out with us! Contact our Conservation and Education Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) or check out the Blue'Aina web page for more details on upcoming trips.