Published in Moon Over Haleakala
Never before has there been such excitement over gathering bags of trash in the rain.
On an otherwise cold, dreary, and drizzly Saturday morning—somewhat of an island anomaly for the middle of July – a sizzling fervor of ocean activism heated up Lahaina Harbor as ocean-minded volunteers schlepped around scuba tanks, dive knives, and multi-colored mesh bags just hungry for debris.
With hot coffee donated by the Lahaina Starbucks warming the intrepid volunteer force while en route to Honolua Bay, the commotion was all part of the seventh installment in a year long environmental effort known simply as “Blue ‘Aina”.
Spearheaded by Trilogy Excursions, and in conjunction with Surfrider Maui, Blue ‘Aina is a community-oriented project which aims to perform monthly reef and beach cleanups at twelve local surf breaks for the entirety of 2010. Aside from the obvious benefit of removing opala from our bays and coastlines, the entire campaign is an effort to raise awareness towards our role as kama’aina to act as responsible stewards of the ocean that surrounds us.
While quickly gaining momentum, the entire concept for Blue ‘Aina was hatched by a group of Trilogy crewmembers after attending the annual John Kelly Award ceremony hosted on O‘ahu by the Surfrider O‘ahu chapter. According to the organization’s website, the purpose of the John Kelly Award is to “recognize those who have made the greatest contributions towards protecting or enhancing our coastal community and environment”.
Infused with inspiration and aiming to act within their own capacity, Trilogy decided to donate the use of their boats, crew, and resources towards the grassroots idea turned monthly event. Already accustomed to sponsoring semi-annual reef cleanups that focused on popular snorkeling destinations, according to Trilogy operations manager Chris Walsh “the shift in focus with the Blue ‘Aina campaign and the partnership with Surfrider was to switch the mindset from cleaning places where we take tourists snorkeling to cleaning the reefs that we as surfers frequent everyday – places that play a role in sculpting the lifestyle we are privileged to enjoy here in Hawai‘i”.
With regards to the Surfrider partnership, volunteers aboard one of the cleanups are urged to either make a donation or renew their Surfrider membership, with virtually all funds raised on board going directly towards the Surfrider Maui Chapter.
Aside from the funding, however, Surfrider sees the cleanups as an incredible way to spread the message of the organization and reach a group of people who may normally not find themselves at a Surfrider sponsored event. According to chapter secretary Kyle Juk, “being able to branch out to people in the diving, and marine conservation communities is an enormously powerful way to collaborate with those who respect our ocean and feel a deep connection to it”.
Already having tackled spots such as Mala Wharf, Shark Pit, Puamana Pools, Lahaina Harbor, and Launiupoko, on this day Honolua expressed its gratitude to the Blue ‘Aina crew by unleashing a brilliant sunshine directly upon their mooring nearly immediately upon arrival. As divers and snorkelers took to the azure blue waters and coral fringed coast, volunteers on shore combed neighboring Mokule’ia Bay (Slaughterhouse Beach) to dig up abandoned fire pits full of burned nails and broken glass, and rid the seashore of any plastics that would eventually find their way into the neighboring bays and beyond.
Juk notes that while so many of Surfrider’s activities are based on land, days like those spent with Blue ‘Aina are important in that “it gets people out in the water and literally puts them face to face with what you’re trying to protect. If we keep promoting events such as this, it raises an awareness throughout the community and we’ll no longer be coming out of the water with bags and bags of trash”.
Somewhat prophetically, with the sun shining bright, burgers on the grill, and local artist Oren Masserman’s “Ocean Song” playing on the stereo, the dive team converged back on the boat with surprisingly near-empty bags. While previous cleanups at Honolua and other reefs had produced loads of marine debris, on this particular day at the Bay it was easier to find a turtle than it was to find any trash – which is exactly the goal that Blue ‘Aina has in mind.
Want to get involved? Contact either firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or check out the website at http://www.surfrider.org/maui/cleanup.htm