E Alu Pū Global Gathering

img_1590

The E Alu Pū global gathering was held from August 28-31 at the Queen Lili’uokalani Children’s Center in Punalu’u, O’ahu. Over 120 individuals from 30 countries attended the event in addition to kama ‘āina throughout Hawai’i. The event provided a platform for cultural exchange on an unprecedented level, immersing participants in Hawaiian cultural practices and ceremonies. Activities included kūkulu hale, the practice of house building, loko i’a (fish pond) restoration and crafting ‘apu awa (vessels for drinking awa). The Nature Conservancy marine fellows and staff helped to lead a discussion on bio-cultural indicators of ecosystem health and became aware of many shared issues indigenous peoples face globally. Mahalo to Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo for organizing this amazing event and connecting so many people of shared vision to holo mua (move forward) in a positive direction.

 

Same Ship, New Crew

As of June 1, 2016 a new crew has taken over the fellows’ ship as the fifth cohort of marine conservation fellows.  We are extremely honored to have been chosen and grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity.  Learn more about us by checking out the bio section.  We hope you enjoy  reading about our experiences over the next two years.  Stay tuned for more.

IMG_5204

holy bleaching!

Over the last two weeks, Kirsten and Kalani have been out in the field, conducting fish and benthic surveys with our marine monitoring team in Kaʻūpūlehu on Hawaiʻi Island.

As great as it was to be back in the water, there was just one big thing putting a damper on all the excitement.  All the bleached coral! With ocean temperatures, at what could be an all time high ranging from 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit, along the west coast of Hawaiʻi island, the team couldn’t believe their eyes or their wetsuits.

All the warnings of coral bleaching came to a haunting reality as the team completed over 150 dives spanning three weeks.  The extent of the bleaching event was unprecedented but there are hopes of resilient colony’s continued survival through this last push of warm water temperatures.

look but don’t touch

Responsible viewing is an important part of keeping Hawaiʻiʻs wildlife safe.  Please remember to keep your distance, do not attempt to feed, touch or ride wildlife, and choose responsible tour operators.

As part of a partnership between TNC, NOAA, DLNR, and Hawaiian Airlines the PSA below will be airing on all in-bound flights to the islands, appealing to visitors to help protect Hawaiʻi’s iconic marine species.

For more information on sea turtles, monk seals, and spinner dolphins visit roarhawaii.org.

gorillas on molokai?

Invasive species are a reoccurring theme throughout Hawai’i from land to sea.  While some are worse than others, they all pose a threat to the unique and native ecosystem of our island state.  One of the most threatening invasive species to our coral reef ecosystem is Gracilaria salicornia, or gorilla ogo.  Found in tide pools and on reef flats, gorilla ogo forms thick mats, smothering and carpeting any life reef structure much unlike its deliciously edible native counterparts, G. parvispora and G. coronopifolia, (ogo and limu manauea.)  The invasive gorilla ogo reproduces both sexually and asexually by fragmentation; any small piece of algae can break off, float away and establish a new population.  The algae was introduced to both Kāneʻohe Bay and Waikīkī in the 1970s but has since spread to Hawaiʻi Island and Molokaʻi.

What a nightmare! 

Last week, Brad and Kirsten hopped on over to Molokaʻi with folks from the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) Aquatic Invasive Species team and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to help Molokaʻi’s community survey the gorilla ogo distribution along their southern coast.  The community has expressed concern about the gorilla ogo distribution as it is inhibiting their fishpond production and hurting their fishing efforts; much of the island’s population subsists off the land and their environment is one of their most prized attributes.

DAR, OHA, and TNC helped to teach 40+ community members over three days how to use GPS, measure sediment depth, and identify invasive and native algae.  Together, we covered over 14 miles of shoreline and mapped thousands of GPS points.  The Molokaʻi community can now independently continue their efforts to map the remaining miles of the south shore and will be working with DAR and TNC in the future to develop and management plan for the gorilla ogo population.

healing reefs

Bleaching is putting coral reefs around the globe in even greater danger than they already are.  A result of warmer ocean temperatures, coral bleaching causes change in color and can result in death of the symbiotic algae within the coral skeleton.

PC: David Slater

NOAA has sent out a warning report, finding that a global coral bleaching event that began last year in the Pacific Ocean may be spreading to the western Atlantic – and to Hawaiʻi.  This not only means harm to Hawaiʻi’s beautiful blue seas but could have an effect on the long-term supply of seafood and a decline in the state’s tourism-based economy.

A study by NOAA quantified the economic value of the Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs at almost $34 billion. 

Although as much as 60 percent of Hawaiʻi’s corals have bleached since last fall, 90 percent of the corals have recovered and even reproduced; a sign of good coral health and maybe even resilience. However, with higher than average ocean temperatures already this year, the idea of a second bleaching event brings some fright.

If you live in Hawaiʻi nei and observe coral bleaching or invasive species, please submit a report with Eyes of the Reef Hawaiʻi.

To learn more about coral bleaching and ways scientists are working to combat it, click here.

B.Y.O.B

Bring your own bag!

Today, Oʻahu will join the rest of the state in the plastic bag ban.  Retail stores will no longer provide plastic bags at the checkout, and some will offer paper or alternatives at a fee.

Plastics contribute to the majority of today’s trash floating in the ocean.  The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic a year.  500 billion plastic bags are used world wide, that is more than one million bags used every minute. [ecowatch.com]

Hawaiʻi is proud to be taking a step toward less plastic and less pollution, one step at a time.