We have to protect what we have, there’s
so much outside stressors that’s happening you know with runoff
pesticides you know now we got sunscreens. Now we do provide a
complimentary reef safe sunscreen guys, I got a bunch up
here by me. We got a bunch down below in the main cabin as well. Tourism, there’s a
lot of things that’s pressuring the corals and you know it, it makes me
worry. Because for me I want to be sure that you know coming from a fishing
family, it’s it’s very important that my kids grow up the same way that we
did you know. And be able to utilize our resources and and also take care of them
because pretty soon without the corals here, especially with the bleaching
that’s going to be happening, that we’re anticipating you know that could coral
reef collapse could happen. And with that happening, the fish won’t have a home,
they end up moving away and you know there’ll be no resources for everybody
to enjoy. That’s Adam Wong and I’m Brian Nielson
and that’s my wife Eva and daughter Mia. Aloha, I’m Luna Kekoa enjoying a day at
the beach with my wife Kahale and keiki, Naulu, Keahe and Mahina. E Ho’Omau I Ke Ko’a. In Hawaiian this means preserving our coral reefs. Adam, Luna and I are just
three of the many people across Hawai’i committed to saving coral for our keiki
and for all future generations. If you’ve been in Hawai’i for any time at all, you
probably know that coral reefs are the very foundation of life in the ocean.
They’re living animals that support many other creatures. And our way of life in
both the sea and on land. Hawaii’s coral reefs, like reefs around
the world, are under siege. They’re on the verge of being lost
forever. This means unless each of us does our part to save coral, we risk
losing these beautiful, productive, and fragile ecosystems. As Brian said, to save coral, we all need to malama them and think
about what we do in the ocean and on land and whether our actions are pono? We’d like you to meet all kinds of people and groups around Hawai’i who are making
saving coral their mission. Please listen to their stories from their words and
their action’s, we can all learn about saving coral. Ultimately it is about our
children, their children and they’re grandchildren. Hawai’i without coral, is
not a Hawai’i as we know it. So, it’s fitting we first return to Adam, who
spends a lot of time talking to keiki about saving coral. Right, we’re
surrounded by water, period. We’re surrounded by water we have many many
corals many fishes that live in Hawaii so common sense we better protect that
right because if we know more that how are you not gonna be Hawai’i we’re not
gonna have the the beautiful surf spots the beautiful beaches you guys not gonna
be able go and enjoy and do that kind of stuff now the bottom is alive coral is a
very delicate animals if we don’t take care then we’re going to end up with
nothing okay a coral reef has all these working parts
okay just like one car one car need gas needs spark need a carburetor need tires
need all that stuff if you get one car no more tires what are you going no help
you’re not gonna go nowhere if you go on car – the gas line where you going
nowhere okay just like on coral reef you gotta have
all these pieces that gonna work make this puzzle work. Spot-on drop brah, spot on. You taking out the corals, what’s going to happen? They fall down, okay. You guys whole tower going to fall down on the ground. Going to be dust. We’re
going to end up with coral reef collapse and this is what coral reef collapse
looks like okay? It’s that simple, of just pulling out one of the key players on a
coral reef you can end up with something like this and this is what we want to
stay away from, because reefs…coral reefs has a hard time recovering, once they
enter this stage. Reef education happens in classrooms and many, many
organizations and even commercial tour companies are joining efforts to save
Coral. The Kahaluu Bay Education Center on the Hawai’i Island is a program of the
Kohala Center. They educate dozens, even hundreds of visitors every day. And
because of what’s happening to the reef here, they’re taking simple steps to save
coral in the bay, while they contemplate some fairly drastic measures. Right now
we see a bay that is being loved to death. It is in disrepair. We find that
our corals are suffering. They are in decline. And Kahuluu is a bay that has
more of the major stressors affecting it. Pollution runoff, cesspool areas right next to it we have thousands
of people that come to the bay every year some of the stressors like cesspool
conversion or pollution runoff, climate change, very difficult to mitigate
immediately but with sunscreen we can do it immediately. When the corals are spawning, look at days to close. And also look at
carrying capacity on all of our bay’s, that are being loved to death. And if we can work together and I think the formula is just that the
federal, state, local community, families of the land working together to heal
here, Kahalu’u Bay or in different areas, for instance Hanauma Bay. It is all of us.
Because, I believe together we can make a difference. If we can find some successes
and then we can share it with other bays and hopefully we will have the
Hawai’i Island where people will continue to come and enjoy it and also our
children will have a place that they can really appreciate and respect. I think
everyone here is is aware that last year the state of Hawai’i passed legislation
banning the sale of certain chemicals and sunscreens that have been shown to
be harmful to coral reef ecosystems when they’re present in the water in large
concentrations. So in particular we designed a survey to
to better understand what’s the prevalence of these banned chemicals in
sunscreens that are currently being used on beaches in Hawai’i. So it was both
to try and understand what would be the potential impacts of the ban once it
goes into effect and then also to understand how aware are people and to
inform education outreach strategies to see where our people are learning about the information and are there other ways we can get this information out?
Good morning, you guys snorkelled already? Right, did
you guys get in the water? No? I might be too late, but we’re just asking
everybody to try to use only sunscreens that have zinc or titanium
oxide. It’s really been recognized for generations that the coral reefs are the
foundation of our life in the islands. And it’s not just economics about
visitors. It’s about fishing, it’s about surfing. Without these reefs, and we could
lose them, Hawai’i would be very, very different. There’s so many impacts right now. That’s
our challenges is we’re just asking each person to make
that personal choice themselves. Protect yourself, but do it in the right way. Many
weekends you can find a sunscreen swap somewhere in the islands. In addition to
only using reef-safe sunscreens, you can protect yourself with clothing like rash
guards, hats, and simply staying in the shade. We’re excited to see so many
people and groups focusing on this. Every little step will contribute to helping
save our coral. Even our millions of visitors are getting educated about pono
practices. Many of the people and companies that host visitors our signing
on to the Coral Pledge. This is a concerted and organized effort to inform
as many guests as possible about why it’s so important to do their part,
saving coral. The Coral Pledge is straightforward. Commercial tour operators and other enterprises just agree to share simple
common-sense steps to avoid injuring or stressing corals. Every day, of every week
thousands of people hop on board boats and buses to get in the water to
experience Hawaii’s dazzling underwater vistas. Before the introduction of the
coral pledge many Hawaii companies were already informing folks. Imagine how
wonderful it would be if didn’t overfish our coral reefs. If people
stopped walking on them sitting on them, touching them. If everyone understood
that Hawaii’s coral reefs are not only the foundation of the ocean, but
fundamental to our economy. No corals, a lifeless ocean, and no reason for people
to come to Hawai’i to enjoy them. One of the goals of Disney’s animal
programs department is to actually educate our guests about environmental
issues. So Rainbow Reef is a unique unique experience for our guests. It’s a
man-made snorkel lagoon and was designed and built to look and feel like a real coral reef. So guests can snorkel in there, learn about coral reefs
and the fishing inside the reefs and give them a feel for it before they
actually go out and snorkel in the wild. The corals that we have, although they
are not real, we treat everything in there especially the corals even though
they’re not real, like they are real. That helps us to remember that corals are
living animals and if we step on them if we kick them it’s very damaging and it’s
destructive and so we do not want to do that so we ask if you can please not
step on the rocks and if you cannot step on the corals. You just want to stay
swimming. Bethany said that the girls didn’t want to touch the reef because
they had heard her say they shouldn’t step on the reef and they were very, very
careful to keep their feet off of the reef, so the message did get through it
I think especially to young people, because they take it very seriously that
this is their future. All right guys we’re here. We made it
beautiful historic Kealakekua Bay this is the famous site where Captain James
Cook of the British Royal Navy made landfall in the winter of 1779. For your
own safety and the health of the reef guys, we ask you guys, please stay off
the bottom. Don’t touch anything, don’t stand up
anywhere, and do not climb ashore at the Captain Cook Monument. Like I
said, your own safety, but also the health of the reef. We’ve been in
business almost 50 years now. And we see around 60,000 or so passengers through
our boats. We definitely are aware of the impact that we all make and that we need
to try and do our best with what we have. To keep it as good as possible. But with
things like global warming, it definitely gets to a point where sometimes it’s
bigger than what we can do here. And so, we do as my as we can to support all those types of efforts. Single-use plastic, all that type
of stuff. The boats run on biodiesel. I have a son and so, everything we do you
know, we think about that being our our big reason. So you know, the next
generation is absolutely going to be the ones that have the the real next step at
being able to fix the problem. But yeah absolutely optimistic in the sense that
we have lots of options for doing it. So, it’s definitely something where
it’s real. So, there’s as much a worry as there is an opportunity. There was as
many as 18 when we first got out here. We would say it’s it’s definitely too
many. This place was created in 1978 because it was such a unique kind of
example of a coral reef ecosystem. It’s in the middle of the channel here
offshore and it’s actually smaller believe it or not than Hanauma Bay,
inside of this area. So, to put that many boats with some of them 150
passengers or more is a lot, right? You’re looking at sometimes probably 12
to 1500 people in here at one time and so that has an effect, and we can’t
necessarily measure all of those effects exactly. But we have been able to to look
at what happens to some of the reef predators that are more mobile and we
found clear signs that once there’s more than twelve boats, 50% of them or more are displaced from the area, particularly the bluefin trevally or the ‘omilu. This
is a premier tourist destination. It’s advertised as such. These companies
depend on being able to take people out here to sell their trips to Molokini and they sell it as kind of a pristine, out of its way nature
experience. And so we did do a study looking at social carrying capacity as
well it was found that about 50% of the people felt that once there was 12 boats or more or somewhere between 12 to 15 depending on the size of the boats that was that they felt that was crowded. They get
that intuitively and philosophically in fact they’ll tell you there you know
there’s some of the best stewards of the marine environment because it’s
their livelihood in their business and there’s certainly some truth to that. And
that people go on these trips, they’re educated, they’re supervised and and we
hope that if they’re taught the right things that every time they go
snorkeling on their own throughout their trip, that they’re following that advice
and behaving better as a result of it. So, there’s a lot of benefit that can
come from the tour industry. It’s hard to to see yourself as a direct part of the
problem, right? And although a lot of them privately will agree that it’s crowded
in this chaotic out here, as a group they don’t want to say that. I don’t know, it’s
a difficult dynamic, but I do think they get it. They just haven’t been super
willing to concede that fact, particularly for Molokini at this point. Overall, I think natural ecosystems are
resilient, they can adapt they can adjust. We just have to do what we can to give
them the space to do that. So, you know, I’m optimistic. I mean there’s no doubt things are going to be be different. The reefs are not going to be what we
grew up used to. But corals should survive and reefs should just continue
to adapt and adjust even as other things change. As long as we address what we can from local stressors. Fishing, particularly heavy fishing of herbivores.
Fish that play a critical role on the reef and because of our life history
they’re not able to adapt to heavy fishing pressure as well as other
species of fish might be able to. And so hopefully we can we can do a better job
of that, we can address land-based pollution and better control
sedimentation, set up better natural coastal ecosystems to filter that stuff
out. Russell pretty much summed up the coral pledge. Our visitor industry is
front and center and absolutely critical to saving coral. We invite tour operators
and anyone who has direct contact with people going into the ocean….to swim,
snorkel, surf, kayak stand-up paddle, fish or boat
to….sign the pledge and incorporate it simple straightforward tips into
information and education presentations. Saving coral is similar to the concept of,
‘It takes a village to raise a child’. It’s going to take all of us, doing our parts,
to ensure beautiful reefs for the future. Across the state there are numerous
projects on the way to give our coral reefs a helping hand. One is the state Anuenue Coral Nursery. What we’re doing here is fast-growing coral colonies, Hawaiian
coral colonies. We’re only growing Hawaiian coral and we’re experimenting with a
variety of species, but we’re sticking primarily to the reef building corals. We
have really good reefs that are degrading and we have corals in our
harbors that provide us with a unique source of coral material, because we
don’t want to be moving corals from natural reefs to natural reefs because
it impacts one reef to benefit another. What Norton is doing right now is taking
the picture prior to cutting it. So, we can see what coral we’re
working with and we can reverse course prior to all these frags and know what
exact colony we took. Because this hasn’t really been done
before, we needed a place where we could easily monitor the status of these
out-plants, look for any problems that may occur, check their growth rates; their
natural growth rates. Remember that we’re fast growing them in the coral nursery
but once we put them out into the wild, they go back to the same growth rates
every other coral in Hawai’i is growing at. Which, on average, is about one centimeter
a year. It’s among the slowest growth rates of corals anywhere in the world.
And those slow growth rates make it very hard for reefs to recover naturally from
human impact. So that’s why we’re giving them a little bit of help. When we
transplant corals out into natural reef environments, we have to acclimate them,
because in the coral nursery, they’re basically, it’s like being in a five-star
hotel. They’re given all the best food, the best lighting, the best water
conditions. They’re given lots of tender loving care and together this allows
these corals to grow at a fast rate. Once we put them back into natural waters,
what ends up happening is that growth rate slows down and we have to slowly
acclimate them back to the ‘not pristine’ water that we have surrounding our
shallow water reef environments. HIMB is the only scientific reserve in the
stat. So, as protected area status. Very limited activities, there’s no fishing, no trolling and stuff in here. HIMB is the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology on
Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay. It too is doing cutting-edge research and projects
to help our coral reefs along. It’s also one of the sites of Hawaii’s first Coral
Palooza, held in the summer time to celebrate World Oceans Day. Billed as the
largest one-day active reef restoration project. I gave Dave and his team,
another opportunity to put some coral modules from the nursery into a
protected natural environment. Back in the classroom on Maui, Adam Wong’s fishing class gets a stark, but comic reminder of all the perils
coral reefs face. See the decline of fish. Like the lobster holes that I used to go
to, the moi holes, the ahole, the humu, they’re not there, okay.
They’ve been displaced with overfishing. Something’s happening,
okay? So, we’re getting a lot of reduction in these species. So, in this comic, you
get one kid, you go talk to an owner of an
aquarium store. So, what the kid is saying, ‘you say mister what do I need to create
a realistic marine environment, okay? So, what he is doing; he tried to build his
aquarium at home. What the owner says to him, he said in order to be realistic, you
got to get agricultural runoff, coastal overdevelopment, unprocessed sewage and depleted fish species. What you pretty much saying is that if you wanted to have
a realistic marine environment and you wanted to create that on your own this
is all the stuff that we’re facing right now. On Maui, we’re facing runoff, we’re facing over development, okay We facing
overfishing. These are all issues that’s happening within the communities. That’s
happening on our coral reefs. Our keiki are the best hope for reversing course
and ultimately for saving coral from young ages they’re learning about the
threats to our reefs much like nature builds reefs we adults must provide a
solid foundation of understanding appreciation and malama to pass on. It’s
what I want from my keiki. I also want them to understand that not only is
coral, or in Hawaiian, koa, really important for the health of the ocean,
koa is key to our culture. Dad, how are coral reefs part of our Hawaiian
culture? Oh, good question Naulu. There is a lot of places where coral is in our own
culture starting with the kumulipo, right? So it’s a creation chat, the
genealogy of the Hawaiian people. And coral is one of the first things born,
because it’s one of the first born it’s our ancestors, our kupuna, right?
So it’s one of our connections to the coral, is that connection back to the
resources and the coral is the foundation of the four reef ecosystem.
And now? Now….you remember Kahoolawe? Yep. Yeah so remember when we went to the fishing koa? Hmmhmm. What do you remember seeing? I think coral? Yes there was some coral on top of and what about on the other day we walked out? More coral, yeah there was coral on that too, yeah. We still use coral today in our cultural practices and ceremonies. I also want Mia to grow up to know from a
very young age, that everything we do or don’t do, will help determine if Hawai’i
has healthy, vibrant coral reefs for eons to come. When you think about everything
you’ve heard and learned today, it’s not terribly difficult. Yes, we’ll all have to
make some tough decisions but in the long run we must take steps to protect,
preserve and perpetuate Hawaii’s coral reefs. Our way of life depends on saving
coral. Our call to action for you begins with reminders from the people you’ve
seen and heard already. We encourage everyone to take the coral pledge. Aloha. People sometimes don’t send realize it. Just looks like a rock to them. But corals are live animals, so it’s very important to
them to not step on the reef or touch them. Please don’t feed the fish because that
changes their behavior. You can address land-based pollution and
better control sedimentation, set up better natural coastal ecosystems to
filter that stuff out. You know, it’s a slow, painful process, but I think the
more we can do that, the more likely the reefs can adapt and adjust over time. It’s still something that I love to be
able to share with people to see. Because no matter if you’ve seen it before or
not at this point, we can still see it and we still have a chance to help make
sure that someone else might see it after. Sunscreens won’t reduce all the
damage that’s happening to our reefs. There is problems with sedimentation and
ocean warming and acidification. But one straw that we can take off the camel’s
back, I believe, is one swimmer at a time, one snorkeler at a time, one surfer at
a time is the sunscreen. The sunscreens that we now use, modern sunscreens, have
some toxicity problems. Corals are living animals. And please do
not step on them. Avoid stepping on them. Float as much as possible. Look for areas
that are sandy if you need to stand. I truly believe we have a chance and
this, is this right now is our time to do the right thing. All of us together.
Put aside politics. Put aside those things that have we see that have
not worked and find those things that will work. And will work together. All of
us here make Hawai’i. And my grandpa always said, “If you live Hawaii, you love
Hawai’i, you are Hawaiian.