Blue'Aina with Eat Less Plastic and Aloha Kayaks Maui
Mid-winter in Maui means slightly cooler temperatures (especially this year, yikes!), but it also means that our seasonal humpback whale friends are still here in peak; ie: the PERFECT time to be out on the water! Our March Blue’Aina underwater reef cleanup was sold out yet again – hip hip hooray, for all our volunteers, sponsors, and non-profits that continue to make these days so fun and full of happiness! This month’s corporate sponsor was Aloha Kayaks Maui who donated to Eat Less Plastic, with food provided by Down the Hatch.
While the sun was shining brightly this Sunday, the wind decided to come in strong, effectively restricting our choices for the day’s reef cleanup. After a bit of discussion with the Captain, we decided it was best to head to Olowalu reef. Olowalu is nicknamed as the “mother reef” of Maui, being the largest here on island and holding a very large diversity of coral species, an abundance of marine life, a green sea turtle cleaning station, and even a black-tip reef shark nursery.
Aloha Kayaks Maui has participated in a Blue’Aina for three years in a row now, and we were so happy to have them back onboard with us! The Aloha Kayaks Maui mission is to “Protect our oceans for future generations by operating a sustainable tourism business, while providing fun and educational adventures”. They offer eco-friendly, guided kayak and snorkel tours plus stand up paddleboard adventures. All of their ocean experiences are delivered with a focus on ocean and land ecology, Hawaiian culture and of course, plenty of sea life! They even started a Green Paddling Blue Water Campaign, in order to represent their two core values of sustainability and education. To break it down…
signifying their eco-friendly approach to business as a cornerstone of their operation
signifying those clear ocean Maui blues, and their commitment to leading & teaching their guests a respect-first approach to all ocean activities here on the island.
To minimize human impact on Maui’s fragile ecosystems, Aloha Kayaks uses non-motorized boats and reusable water bottles, and never drops anchor on the coral below them. They even go above and beyond to clean their post-tour gear with earth-friendly products! Another common practice of the Maui tourist industry that this stand-up business refuses to participate in? Encouraging guests to feed or even remove marine life from their homes for “show & tell” (nooo, don’t do it!). It’s for all these reasons that we can guarantee: after a morning on the water with Aloha Kayaks Maui, you will not only have enhanced kayaking skills but you will also leave with a greater understanding of ocean etiquette and how to protect our oceans for future generations. Their tours leave from Makena and Olowalu and they offer a kama’aina discount so head over to their website for more information about getting out on the water!
This March Sunday, though, Aloha Kayaks hung up their paddles to opt for a fun snorkeling cleanup session with long-time friends, Trilogy Excursions. When we arrived at our destination, the Trilogy crew made quick work tying up to one of the many day-use moorings at Olowalu, and guests jumped into the water with delight, fins and masks ready for some eagle-eye-level of debris searching. The combination of a true blue Maui sky and crystal-clear waters gave our volunteers the best conditions possible for spotting any foreign objects caught in the reef, but to our delight, we found a spotless bunch of corals as far as the eye could see, not to mention black trigger fish, moray eels, green sea turtles, and even a white-tip reef shark! We consider it a win-win!
Back on board, we picked up anchor and started making our way back to Lahaina, with a little impromptu whale watching on the way! Guests enjoyed some smooth tunes, yummy deli wraps and macaroni salad for lunch, and even a little pirate encounter with Trilogy II as she cruised by us, (water) guns at the ready! With the sun beaming down on our happy faces, we settled in to talk story with representatives from one of our favorite non-profits, Eat Less Plastic, whom Magen partnered with last year on a Pacific ocean crossing aimed at raising awareness of the world’s plastic epidemic.
A quick lesson…
“Single-use” was the word of 2018, according to Collins Dictionary, and very accurately defines the biggest issue with plastic: it never goes away! Plastic breaks up (not down) in the sunlight, forming smaller and smaller pieces around 5mm in size, earning the name “microplastic.” These microplastics tend to look like plankton, and as the lower animals in the food web ingest the microplastic, it starts to bio-accumulate back UP the food chain until it reaches the top consumers like tunas, whales, sharks, and even humans. For more information on the harmful effects of plastics check out our blog archives.
Now that we’ve covered this micro-lesson (in all senses of the word), let’s get back to our non-profit organization for the day! Eat Less Plastic is a campaign under the non-profit, Love the Sea. Love the Sea’s mission is to support a local & global network of ocean stewards, working towards the eradication of plastic pollution and marine debris in the world’s oceans, achieved through effective direct action, innovative educational outreach and strategic policy making campaigns. The Eat Less Plastic (ELP) mission is to educate generations of tomorrow about the global single-use plastic problem, so positive solutions can start today. With the objective of creating short educational documentaries and collecting data on microplastics in the South Pacific, ELP will give people a platform to share their voices and add valuable data to the global plastic estimate. Eat Less Plastic believes that one person can inspire others to create social behavioral change, and it starts with inspiring those closest in your circle - your friends and family!
Just recently, ELP completed their first voyage, sailing from Los Angeles to New Zealand aboard the Today vessel. Over the 6-month journey across the sea, a group of conservation-minded individuals (including our own Magen Schifiliti!) collected data on microplastics in areas of the Pacific where little data has ever been collected before. This adventurous crew were also able to connect with numerous South Pacific island communities, NGO’s, government organizations, and schools along their journey, establishing key partnerships (and friends) all aimed at attacking this plastic issue head-on. The next step for the team is to produce a few short-format educational documentaries and virtual reality episodes for kids that highlight the inherent danger of a world so dependent on single-use plastics, as well as sharing positive solutions for the future. If you would like to support this initiative, they are actively seeking donations to help bring this project to completion. Click here to make a donation!
And there we have it - a day full of sunshine-y snorkel fun searching for marine debris, two absolutely stellar organizations onboard aimed at protecting this beautiful ‘aina of ours, and some warm, happy faces, as we bring another successful 2019 Blue’Aina to a close!
Until next time.. a hui hou…
Written by: Magen Schifiliti & Cyndie Ellis