World Oceans Day: A Beach Clean-Up Giving Back

The ocean covers seventy percent of the world’s surface and is believed to contain 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. Each piece of plastic can take anywhere from 20-1,000 years to break up into smaller pieces, which is to say that it will not completely break down, as most plastic will not decompose completely. Those pieces that do manage to break down create toxins that are carried throughout the ocean. It is believed that every piece of plastic ever made is still somewhere in the ocean. This plastic accumulation causes serious problems for the ocean and marine life. For those who do not care about the ocean or the creatures that live there, perhaps it will be of interest to know that plastic is causing harm to people as well. Plastic waste is constantly ingested by various creatures that are at the bottom of the food chain, which then releases toxins throughout their bodies that is transferred to the creature that ingests them, and so on, slowly making its way up the food chain until the toxins eventually reach our markets and dinner tables, causing serious health problems to those who consume the contaminated fish and marine animals. Although these numbers are overwhelming, it is important we do not get discouraged and take a stand to help save the ocean, marine life, and our own human population before it is too late. Throughout my life, I have learned the smallest events can result in the biggest impacts. Alone, each drop in the ocean is insignificant, but when they all come and move together it creates monumental force. Beneath the surface lies an even greater power in insuppressible currents; from above it may seem calm and delicate, however, below it exists more life than the very land we thrive on. It is a place that should not be used as a trash can, but rather treated with the utmost respect and appreciation.

June 8th, 2017 was World Oceans Day, a day dedicated to the immensely beautiful and everlasting oceans across the world. This is a day to take a stand and give back to the ocean and its inhabitants and what better way to do that than help remove some of the toxins poisoning it. A beach cleanup at Pounders Beach, on the northeast side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, was organized with the support of One Ocean Diving, One Ocean Conservation, Keiko Conservation, Water Inspired, 4 Ocean, Devoted to the Ocean, Happy Earth Apparel, Naturez Way, Clark Little, Core Power Yoga, Xcel Wetsuits, Guayaki, Mermaids for Change, Real Life Mermaid Shop, Yoga Kai Hawaii, and many other sponsors.

 It was a day that proved even the smallest effort can result in significant change. The clean-up began around 11:00am and over 20 people showed up, including many keiki (children) supporters. Seeing so many kids interested and excited to help make a difference was truly inspiring. Saving the ocean and world from the negative impact we have created through our use and improper waste management of plastic is going to take time and patience, and in the end it is going to be up to future generations to correct our mistakes. 

Throughout the cleanup it started to rain a lot and all of our volunteers pushed through the rain and kept collecting debris scattered along the beach - their dedication was amazing. Around 12:30pm a storm came through with strong wind and rain that was too hard to ignore and we had to end the clean-up early. Although the time was short, the impact was great. Over the span of a hour and a half we managed to fill up the bed of a truck with the garbage collected. Without the generosity of our sponsors and dedication of the volunteers this event would not have happened. We came one step closer to healing our beloved ocean, mahalo to all the sponsors and volunteers that made this event possible.


“Humanity is made up of people like the ocean is made up of drops. As the ocean pounds on the shore line, humanity pounds on fragile ecosystems. Like the ocean at the mercy of the wind we seem swept away by the demands of our times, cars, devices, disposable goods. We may be drops, but together we have the power of an ocean.” - Unknown

Sharks and their 'olelo hawai'i (Hawaiian language)

Lots of nearshore species of sharks in Hawaiʻi actually have different names in ʻōlelo hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language); and Hawaiians understood the difference between the species of sharks they would regularly see while fishing, swimming, etc. In this blog post we will highlight some of the sharks that had Hawaiian names, their cultural significance and a little bit about their biology.


The first shark on our list is the thresher shark. There are three species of thresher sharks found around the Hawaiian islands: the pelagic thresher (Alopias pelagicus) up to 11ft, the bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus) up to 15ft, and the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) up to 18ft. The Hawaiian name for thresher shark is manōʻula or laukāhuʻu. These are the only two surviving names associated with thresher sharks in Hawaiian culture, but that does not mean that Hawaiians did not have individual names for individual species. Hawaiian culture was passed on orally, so keep in mind that words and names could have been lost or forgotten. Manōʻula in Hawaiian language means red shark, but clearly the thresher shark is not red. ʻUla was a color reserved for aliʻi (kings) and represented royalty and strength. Another meaning for ʻula was the shortened name for the Hawaiian sea bird koaʻeʻula, also known as red-tailed tropic bird (Phaethon rubricauda). Manōʻula (thresher shark) and koaʻeʻula (red-tailed tropic bird) both share a similar slender tail. Perhaps manōʻula was named after koaʻeʻula, or vice versa because they both bare distinctive long tails. Thresher sharks use their long tails to strike and stun their prey while hunting.


Our second shark is the Whale shark / Lelewaʻa (Rhincodon typhus). 📸: @juansharks . Aloha mai kākou! The second shark on the list is the whale shark (Rhincodon typhus), which can grow up to 60 feet in length, and can be found in tropical oceans around the world. Whale sharks are harmless, and are one of the few sharks that feed solely on plankton. The word for whale shark in ʻōlelo hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) is lelewaʻa, which literally means canoe jump. The whale shark was described by Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau, as lelewaʻa, and one of the basic sharks found in Hawaiian waters. Lelewaʻa is described in the Hawaiian dictionary as literally jumping from canoe to canoe as sport for surfing to the shoreline. Kamakau inferred that Hawaiians could have possibly encountered a whale shark near shore while partaking in the sport of “lelewaʻa”, jumping on the back of a whale shark instead of their canoe, and riding the whale shark back to shore. Hawaiians named the whale shark after a popular sport that took place back in the day, lelewa'a.


Our third and last shark on our list today is the of Gray Reef Shark / Manō (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), which can grow up to 6 feet, and is widely distributed across the Indo-Pacific region. The gray reef shark is one of the most abundant sharks found around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but seems to be more restricted to certain areas in the main Hawaiian Islands; more frequently sighted off Niʻihau or Molokini crater in Maui (Wetherbee et. al, 1997). Large social aggregations of pregnant female gray reef sharks have been well documented in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands around Kauō (Laysan Island) and Kalama atoll (Johnston Atoll). Aggregation behaviors of the gray reef shark is poorly understood, but possible functions have been proposed: 1) reproduction, 2) mate selection, 3) energy conservation, 4) protection from large predators (Economakis, 1997). Perhaps pre-western contact, before boats, coastal runoff and noise pollution, gray reef sharks used to have natural aggregation sites around the shallow bays of the main Hawaiian Islands. Moʻolelo (legends) tells of kahu manō (shark guardians or shark keepers), whose sole job was to care for sharks. Tasks would included feeding, cleaning, and keeping company with family ʻaumakua, literally treating them as family members. Perhaps the manō in these legends could be about Hawaiian gray reef sharks, as they have been scientifically documented to aggregate in huge numbers near shore; where Hawaiians could have easily come in contact with them. This could also explain the reason why Hawaiians built heiau (temples, places of worship) in the ocean or near shore, devoted to the shark gods and ʻaumakua. The name for gray reef shark in ʻōlelo (Hawaiian language) has been lost, and they are usually just referred to as manō. 

Whale season is almost here!

Whale Season is almost upon us! Have you heard about our new Whale Watching and Research Program? 

Available Jan. 1st-April 30th

      With the first Humpbacks spotted in the distance last week on our way out to survey the sharks, whale season is almost here! Humpback whales visit Hawaiian waters every year from November-May with the peak of the season occurring in January-March. We frequently hear the whales singing and often observe them breaching and swimming at the surface during our pelagic shark interaction program, and sometimes they even swim right up to use to check us out! 

     We are so excited to be expanding our research to include the whales as well. Our primary research focus is to record and track the whale song of males migrating through the area with the use of a hydrophone, as well as building a photo ID database of the individuals we encounter. 

    Join us aboard our research vessel where you will spend two hours surveying the area for whales and other cetaceans.We encourage guests to bring their own cameras to contribute to the field ID photos, and all photos taken during the tour will be made available to you for no additional charge.     

    Humpback whales are a living reminder that conservation measures to protect vulnerable species can be successful. After dropping to just 10% of their historic population, their numbers have slowly increased to about 30% due to federal protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is our hope that one day sharks will also receive the protection they deserve to allow their severely depleted populations to recover. 

    Due to NOAA regulations we are unable to approach or enter the water with the whales, but we are still able to observe them on the boat from a respectful distance. However, your marine biologist/naturalist will guide you into the water for a shallow water reef snorkel to observe turtles, fish and other marine life at some point throughout your tour. Click the button below for more information: