Today marked the beginning of our Polynesian adventure on the island of Oahu with a hike up Diamondhead State Monument as our orientation to the overgrowing and urbanizing city of Honolulu. A hopping and bombing city with tourists, street vendors, and ABC stores galore, Honolulu embodies what most environmental managers fear – severe habitat degradation and urban sprawl. That being said, there is an odd beauty that peeks out between the high-rises and bustling crowds – lush green fields and a crystal clear ocean are reminiscent of what Honolulu once was before urban expansion. Also, who doesn’t like trying to spot a whale out in the distance from an ancient volcano? Exactly.
As marine conservation and management are the focus of this course, we will embark on a journey across different parts of Oahu and Kauai. In doing so, we will meet an array of environmental managers who are challenged to solve some of the most pressing, complex, and difficult marine environmental issues the United States has to face. We will learn first hand what theses individuals do and face in regards to albatross and plastics, coral reef restoration, sea turtle health assessment and rehabilitation, and Hawaiian monk seal conservation – just to name a few.
Today, we meet an oceanographer and overall awesome guy, Dr. David Hyrenbach, at Hawaii Pacific University to learn and discuss his research. David and his amazing team are looking at two species of albatross, Laysan and black-footed albatross, as biological indicators for the plastic distribution in the ocean and overall the impacts on the marine environment. Wrapping up a fun-filled day of learning, we witnessed two of David’s graduate students perform a necropsy on two albatrosses and left with a clearer picture that there is no simple answer to solve the invasion of plastics in the environment but there is always hope! Overall, today was an amazing first start of the day and I cannot wait for what is in store. Plan for tomorrow: turtle-palooza and reef restoration – vacuum optional. Also, stay tuned. Kim might get eaten by a shark – just kidding. J
Side note – for anyone traveling to the Honolulu area and feeling some hunger…Check out Genki Sushi and Leonard’s Bakery for some amazing food-coma goodness. If you are like me and had no idea what a malasada is until now, here is the link: http://www.leonardshawaii.com – it’s that good.