Pacific Whale Foundation hosted World Oceans Day June 8 with events in Kahului, Paia, Kihei, Ma‘alaea and Olowalu. Highlights of the annual event – designed to celebrate the ocean, its importance to our lives, and how each of us can protect it, no matter where we live – included beach clean ups at Kahului Harbor, Pa‘ia Bay, and Kamaole III; a free PacWhale Eco-Adventures cruise from Ma‘alaea to Olowalu for a hands-on plankton-tow activity; snorkel reef cleanup and sea-surface microplastic sampling; movie night at Paia Bay Coffee; a Front Street Treasure Hunt; a “Pollution Solutions” art contest for keiki; and a Party for the Ocean at Maui Brewing Co.
This year’s theme was Together We Can, encouraging people from around the world to share what they are doing to protect the ocean, showcasing the idea that, together, we can make a difference. Organizers said this year’s event was a success.
“This free Pacific Whale Foundation outreach event really helps us to teach and learn from our friends in the field about small steps each of us can take to make a huge impact, when practiced as a community,” said PWF executive director Kristie Wrigglesworth.
Throughout the day, 168 volunteers collected 1,056 pounds of debris. Seventy two percent of the total debris was removed from Kahului Harbor. The 50 bags of trash removed from there, weighing 760 pounds, included 242 feet of fishing line; 246 pounds were collected at Kam III and 50 pounds at Pa‘ia Bay.
Well over half the debris collected, 64 percent, was plastic, according to PWF. On the microplastic ecotour, 68 citizen scientists collected 36 containers of surface water from Olowalu. After PWF’s research team analyzed the samples, they found 0.43 microplastics per ounce of seawater and 0.29 microfibers per ounce of seawater. Last year, the 36 samples collected yielded only 0.14 microplastics per oz of seawater – compared to the .43 this year; there is no data for microfibers from last year, but published reports state that microplastics in our products is a rapidly growing danger to our environment. Senior research analyst Jens Currie said the microplastic counts are baseline data, and the team will be looking to see how these trends change over time as PWF continues the annual event.
“Everyone needs to play a part,” said António 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.”
PWF’s core research, education and conservation work was highlighted at the Party for the Ocean event. More than 150 people played Oceans Day Bingo, made microplastic-free body scrub, and learned how to host a green event. PWF also sends congratulations to Mikaela Petrilli for winning the drawing for the Keiki Plastic Pollution Solutions art contest.
Photo courtesy Pacific Whale Foundation