LANA'I BLUE'AINA WITH AMERICAN REEF COALITION & WAILEA COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

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Trilogy started off the holiday season on Sunday December 2nd with our annual Blue’Aina trip to Lana'i, a neighboring island of Maui. For the 5th year in a row, our generous Corporate Sponsors, Wailea Community Association, made a $1,000 donation to the non-profit organization, American Reef Coalition

The Wailea Community Association has a positive reputation of supporting the local Maui community, including their multiple donations each year to the Maui Food Bank, and serving as hosts for various Holiday Food Drives around the island. This was their fifth year in a row making a $1,000 donation to the non-profit, American Reef Coalition, whose mission particularly resonates with the organization!  A well-known and admirable non-profit in the community, the American Reef Coalition is truly a blessing for our island home, hosting numerous reef cleanups throughout the year.  In 2018, they’ve accumulated an amazing list of volunteer work, like removing derelict fishing gear and marine debris from our beaches & shoreline, maintaining our mountain trails (removing invasive species along the way), and caring for our coral reefs through monitoring and transplant programs. The mission of the ARC is to protect marine resources, wilderness and natural areas through a variety of proven methods, fortified through strategic alliances with the community, local & mainland organizations, and government agencies involved in marine, nature, and wildlife conservation.

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With these two inspirational organizations for December’s Blue’Aina cleanup, along with our 50 eager & excited volunteers, we boarded the sold-out Trilogy boat and set sail across the ‘Au ‘Au channel to Lana'i, anxious to get started with the day’s events! The island of Lana'i, also known as the “Pineapple Island,” once produced 75% of the world’s pineapples back in the 1930’s and today is still home to just over 3,000 people. The island’s tight-knit community has continued to keep this humble land pure and simple, honoring the memories of their working-class families through a lifestyle filled with genuine aloha spirit and an appreciation for calm, quiet living. We have always had a special fondness for this gorgeous island neighbor of ours, and the December cleanup that takes place here each year is one of our favorites!

Nai’a = Hawaiian for spinner dolphin

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Upon our arrival at Manele Small Boat Harbor, we were promptly greeted by a spinner dolphin welcome crew! Our volunteers were elated to watch these playful marine mammals from the boat’s deck - but rest assured, with Trilogy being a certified Dolphin SMART company, the crew is always extremely careful not to follow, harass, or alter any natural behaviors of the dolphins that they come across while sailing. Sensing a perfect teaching moment, our Director of Conservation, Magen, used this fun surprise to share some neat facts about spinner dolphins with the cleanup crew onboard. 

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Did you know? The spinner dolphin is actually one of the smaller dolphin species, ranging around 5-6ft long for a mature adult. They get their name from the multiple split-second spins they perform when leaping out of the water, which scientists believe is their unique form of communication with one another. Another lesser known fact about these energetic dolphins – they are nocturnal hunters! So as the sun goes down and the deep-sea marine life makes its nightly migration towards the surface, these spinners take full advantage to dine on the freshest of seafood dinners, often including squid, lantern fish, and shrimp. Once the heat of the sun returns the next day, the whole pod will then move on to more shallow, protected waters along the coastline, where they rest up for the next night’s feast.

After the unexpected dolphin show, the Trilogy crew made quick work, tying the boat to a nearby mooring ball so our volunteers could officially start the day off with our first activity – an underwater cleanup! Scanning the shallow shoreline for fishing line and the deeper waters for signs of marine debris, our Blue’Aina team went to work, with help from the volunteer Trilogy crew, toting collection bags and scissors for successful trash & fishing line removal. It’s important to note that any underwater cleanup should be done with caution and care, so as not to cause further damage to the coral when removing tangled lines or trash!

After about an hour in the water, we returned to the boat and made our way to the harbor’s dock so we could start round two of the day’s collections: a land cleanup around Manele Harbor. Braving kiawe thorns, crawling under parked cars, and scouring the low tide line, our volunteers collected 15 – FIFTEEN! - bags of trash. The majority of the trash found on land was single use plastic (shakes fist): straws, wrappers, plastic bags, food packaging, and water bottles.

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Did you know that on average, Americans use 500 million plastic straws in one single day?! In 2014, 5 Gyres Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution determined that 5.25 trillion particles of plastic were floating around the surface of the world’s oceans - now THAT’S a lot of plastic! Blue’Aina has been conducting underwater reef cleanups since 2010 and has removed an estimated 3,000 lbs of marine debris from Maui County waters with help from our sponsors, non-profits, and volunteers, of course! While this may seem small in comparison to the global total, it’s important to remember that change starts on a singular level.  Education, along with a widespread adoption of sustainable living, are the keys to finding a successful world-wide solution to our ever-growing plastic dependency, and we are so excited for that day to come! (photo above courtesy of Politico Explorer)

Blue’Aina dates for 2019 are now up and available to book on Trilogy’s website.  We hope to see you aboard with us for a 2019 reef cleanup, but until then, Mele Kalikimaka, Merry Christmas, and a have very Happy New Year!

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Photo above, credit to: Fine Art America

Written by: Cyndie Ellis & Magen Schifiliti