Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Protect Humpback Whales of Hawaii and their habitat (largest breeding ground in the world for this species) via research, education, and management.
Why They Rock:
- Splash Research: International collaboration mapping the migration patterns of the Humpback Whales in the North Pacific with over 400 researchers.
- Entanglement Network: coordinate community based effort with whale agencies, fisherman, and tour operators who respond to reports of entanglements; some cases involve help from Alaska.
- Ocean Awareness Training: multi-day session with speakers discussing marine life, coral reef ecology, marine debris, and Hawaiian culture. Volunteers participate in a field project and classroom sessions to receive a Coral Certification. The purpose of the program is to create awareness and advocacy for the ocean.
- Ocean Count: Shore-based whale watches for census and behavior. Over 2,000 volunteers participants which helps with the conservation effort via trends.
- Management Plan: possible expansion to include other species, protect the natural marine habitat of Hawaii, and/or total eco-system of Hawaii.
I was told to wrestle a whale and find out if they were at peace or not…NO, don’t be silly, you can’t be within 100 yards from a whale! I was asked to scrap barnacles…again, can’t be true unless I create a go-go-gadget awesome backscratcher.
Really, I was a whale tour guide at “blowhole” point. I handed out literature and offered binoculars to see whales about a mile off the shore blowing (breathing) or breaching (belly flopping). I had a great time talking to strangers about whales and I learned a bunch from the sanctuary crew such as whales in Hawaii during winter breed/party and don’t eat until the journey back to Alaska in the summer. My contact Claire was a total rock-star and equipped me with good information (and bus directions) to be whale-savvy…except I had no game with Japanese tourists besides lots of pointing and smiling.
You have heard the saying “go save the whales” in a sarcastic manner as if it does no good since these animals don’t bring home dinner. We are all interconnected and if natural things keep disappearing then this will set off a chain-reaction and we will have no place to eat dinner.
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came…” John F. Kennedy
To conserve and restore a healthy and productive Maunalua Bay through community kuleana.
Why They Rock:
- Invasive Alien Algae Removals: Between early 2007 and June 2011, the community (including schools, families, individuals and kupuna) along with support from a large federal grant in partnership with NOAA, The Nature Conservancy Hawaii and Pono Pacific, removed by hand over 3 million pounds of invasive alien algae from Maunalua Bay.
- Mauka Watch Program: water quality monitoring program is designed in response to the major threats from polluted runoff and siltation to the coral reef and nearshore marine ecosystems of Maunalua Bay, Oahu.
- Pakini Surveys: In late 2007, with the technical assistance of The Nature Conservancy and NOAA, Mālama Maunalua launched a “Pakini Survey” to understand the status of our resources and our effects on them. In the long run, it will also be a means by which to measure the improvement of the fisheries based on what we are doing to address pollution and invasive species.
My all-star contact Teagan compiled a full-packed day with a taste of everything and started with in-water invasive species removal…I basically removed gook from the bottom of the bay which is due to man-made pollutants. Great to start the day in clear blue water with a cool crew – we played “song-off” meaning you had to see songs with certain words like “cry,” and I chirped ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’
Back to office and we dominated data entry for our volunteer sign-ups! Teagan treated me to a killer burrito at ChaChaCha…thank you Teagan!
We zoomed in her Tacoma to the Huki Shed in Niu Valley doing gear storage & maintenance with Kimo (stud staff member). We constructed 2 new gear drying racks, put together a utility storage shelf (shelves are my kryptonite), cleaned some booties…and played with some doggies!
Mālama Maunalua is all about taking care of the environment and Kimo said it best,” if everybody took care of their own land, then there would be no problems.” Keep the streams, rivers, and ocean clean…nothing trumps nature in its purest state.
Hawaii was amazing: large mammal watching, algae removal while singing, and warm hospitality from my host Hawaiian family. Tim, Ye, and Pax (little baby dude) from the Surfriders Foundation Oahu (link) took me in like an old friend, and our only contact was from online. One of the coolest families I ever met – breakfast was ready on the counter, zen-chill house with a kitty, and super comfy bed…the 50Give tour was in serious jeopardy of staying in beautiful Hawaii!
“Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the people of the earth.” Chief Seattle