5 Ways to Protect the Ocean

If you love the ocean as much as we do, you may be interested in the following simple strategies to reduce your impact. Some of these strategies apply to your time spent around the ocean, and others apply wherever you are. So whether you're on vacation and planning a Maui ocean tour activity, or you're back home reading about the health of the ocean, we hope you'll enjoy these tips!

1. Use reef safe sunscreen. Here in Hawaii, coral reefs have to contend with substantial quantities of chemicals deposited in the water every day by a myriad of swimmers, including vacationers and local residents alike. Some of these chemicals can cause serious damage, making it all the more difficult for these slow-growing animals to thrive in their vibrant colonies. Fortunately, there are now reef-safe sunscreens on the market that are not yet zero impact, but are definitely healthier. Look for one with zinc oxide or titanium, which are natural minerals that have not been found to harm corals.

2. Nix the helium balloons and the single-use bottles and bags. You probably already know what we're going to say about this. helium balloons that get lost sometimes end up in the ocean. Here in Hawaii, it's especially likely that when it finally comes down again, it'll end up in the water. Given enough time, the ocean and the suns radiation can break down pretty much everything, but not as fast as plastics are being dumped in the ocean. Unfortunately, a lot of this stuff is dangerous to marine life. If you must use these kinds of items, reuse and recycle them if you can.

3. Choose sustainable seafood. Some seafood consumption takes a heavy toll on the environment. Fishing strategies like trolling are known to cause serious damage to marine ecosystems, and some fish stocks are depleted and need time to recover. How do you keep track of all this? The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Seafood Watch guide that simply lists seafood types according to how sustainable they are. You can print it out, or look for their app for iPhone and Android.

4. Look but don't touch. It may be tempting to play with that red pencil urchin or pick up a sea cucumber, but please resist the urge. You may think that it's okay just once, but some of these creatures contend with human interference from other individuals every day. Feel like keeping that pretty shell in the tide pool? Another hermit crab goes homeless, and this is no exaggeration, because they are often forced to fight with each other over their next suitable home. And whatever you do, don't try to ride the turtles, because climbing on a stranger isn't polite. You might get scolded by your fellow explorers, or worse, bit by the turtle.

5. Support environmentally friendly activities. If you really wanted to start with us, we couldn't say no! Want to learn how our Maui ocean tours support Hawaii's marine environment? You can read all about it on our Research Recipients page.

We hope to see you soon on one of our tours so we can show you the best of Hawaii's marine ecosystems! If you need our assistance, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!

Brewery Creates Edible Six-Pack Rings for Marine Life

Change happens one person at a time, and sometimes one company at a time. Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, has come up with a brilliant packaging material to keep our ocean clean and free from damaging and sometimes deadly plastic. Six-pack rings made from plastic are possibly the most notorious kind of garbage because of the serious damage they do to marine life through ingestion and entanglement. With this in mind, Saltwater Brewery has cooked up an edible substitute for their six-packs.

This innovative craft beer company took sustainability yet another step forward by making the packaging from their own beer by-products. The barley, wheat and other ingredients are combined for a product that isn't just safe for fish to eat, but even for humans. Of course they don't have to be ingested to break down. They are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable.

Remarkably, the packaging is just as resistant and efficient as plastic, making it perfectly functional and harmless in the environment. The only difference is that it costs a bit more at this point, a factor that Saltwater Brewery hopes its customers will be willing to support for another step toward a healthier environment. If more breweries invest in this type of packaging, the prices could drop in the future, and that's a possibility that Saltwater Brewery is hoping for.

If you join us on a Maui snorkel tour, you'll discover how uncommonly clean our waters are from plastic debris and other trash. Hawaii's land area is miniscule compared to the breadth of the ocean surrounding it, and the population here takes its environmental health seriously, but debris can drift from any landmass to virtually any other landmass on Earth, so even our waters get some of it at times. That's why this innovative packaging choice is so inspiring.

This is the first time a 100 percent edible and biodegradable beer packaging has been implemented in the beer industry. If you want to learn more about this great little company and watch a short, informative video about their packaging, you can check out the community page at www.saltwaterbrewery.com. If you need any assistance with your Maui ocean activities, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!

45 Ton Entangled Humpback Whale Freed After a Week

An entangled humpback was first spotted on February 13th near the Big Island trailing hundreds of feet of heavy gauge line – some that was partially embedded in its tail. Due to inclement weather and other extenuating circumstances, no immediate response could be made. Fortunately, The West Hawaii Marine Mammal Response Network was able to tag the whale and track its location until a rescue attempt could be made.

It wasn’t until February 20th that a response team tracked the whale to the leeward side of Maui, and launched their rescue attempt out of Maalaea Harbor just before 8:00am. Using techniques rarely seen since the heyday of whaling, the team used an inflatable boat to get near the whale and attached buoys in an attempt to prevent it from diving. The 8-hour operation saw the humpback freed of nearly all the line, with the exception of about six feet which scientists expect will be expelled over time and its wounds to heal. Prior to releasing it, tissue samples were taken to ascertain its health which was found to be in fair to moderate condition.

Whale entanglements are growing increasingly more common; averaging at least one death a year, while it’s estimated that about 75% of whales bear scars from it. We’re so grateful that this humpback had a happy ending and will live to return to beautiful Hawaiian waters on many more occasions. If you see an entangled whale or distressed marine mammal call NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at (888) 256-9840, and please do not approach it on your own as it can be dangerous not only for yourself, but for the animal as well.

Here at Hawaii Ocean Project we are extremely respectful of the ocean and all of the amazing animals that live in it. With only three months left in whale watching season, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we offer an early bird special whale watch tour at the extremely affordable cost of $19.21 for adults and $17.07 for children. You never know – we may see our friend, the freed humpback!