World Oceans Day was celebrated on Maui on June 8 with events presented by Pacific Whale Foundation, Maui Ocean Center, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and Seascape Restaurant.
The purpose of World Oceans Day is to inform the public of human impact on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens and mobilize the world’s population for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.
Events included Marine Debris Monitoring Program activities at Kealia Pond and Kahului Harbor (with free beach cleanup kits distributed by Pacific Whale Foundation marine naturalists), a free PacWhale Eco-Adventure between Ma‘alaea and Olowalu, snorkel reef cleanup, microplastic sampling, a screening of the documentary STRAWS at Seascape Restaurant and a “Pollution Solutions” keiki art contest.
“This event has been months in the making, and really helps us to not only spread the message of what our nonprofit programs are all about but to teach others how small steps can make a huge impact, when practiced as a community,” said PWF acting executive director Kristie Wrigglesworth.
13,632 pieces of debris were collected throughout the day by 233 participating volunteers, with cigarettes continuing to be the item most recorded during beach clean-ups, amounting to 56 percent of the total trash. The average microplastics count was 4.9 items per liter of water, lower than the global average of 11.8. According to Pacific Whale Foundation Senior Research Analyst Jens Currie, the microplastic counts are baseline data, and the team will be looking to see how these trends change over time as the annual event continues.
“Everyone needs to play a part,” said Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “You can make a difference today – and every day – by doing simple things like carrying your own water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags; recycling the plastic you buy; avoiding products that contain microplastics; and volunteering for a local clean-up.”
During a public proclamation ceremony on Jun. 5 at Kamaole II Beach Park, Mayor Alan Arakawa asked all residents and visitors to do their part in protecting the ocean from marine debris and to steward our global and local natural resources well.
“Here in Hawai‘i, the Pacific Ocean is part of who we are,” said Arakawa. “In the sea, we find food, play, travel, exercise, education and more. So World Oceans Day provides us with a positive reminder to redouble our efforts to protect the ocean and reverse negative trends brought about by humans who have taken this vast, bountiful resource for granted.”
The public can get involved by signing the pledge to refuse plastic straws and purchase alternatives to plastic products (Pacificwhale.org/conservation/the-last-straw). Other ways to engage include PWF’s ADOPT program, Volunteers on Vacation, PacWhale Eco-Adventures, using the free Whale & Dolphin Tracker app, joining an Ocean Camp or making a contribution.
Photo: Pacific Whale Foundation