August 2022 Update

MONTHLY HMAR UPDATE: AUGUST 2022

Last month flew by! In our August HMAR report, we have updates for you on Koalani, sea turtles, interns, and more. Keep reading to check out everything about HMAR’s month of August.

Number of Calls to HMAR – August total 474 (about 15 per day)

Our hotline operators were busy this month, taking 474 calls! Of these, 356 were related to Hawaiian monk seals, 100 calls were for sea turtles, and there were 18 calls related to seabirds. 

Number of Field Support Actions  – August total 361 (about 11 per day)

Our team members conducted 361 field support actions in August. A big focus was on our Hawaiian monk seal pups! At the beginning of the month, PO8, now tagged RQ58 and named “Koalani,” was weaned by his mother, RH58 “Rocky,” on Kaimana Beach in Waikiki. A thorough risk assessment was conducted, and it was decided that the best option for Koalani’s natural development and safety was for him to be relocated to a new location. HMAR assisted NOAA in his relocation, and since then, our team has been with him each day (see picture left) to ensure his continued safety and health. He has been doing wonderfully in his new home! In addition to Koalani, on August 3rd, R016 “Right Spot” gave birth on Oahu for the first time! Her female pup, designated PO9 until she is tagged, has been named “Lehiwa” (lay-HE-va). We’re excited to have Right Spot and her new pup on Oahu with us this year (see picture right). This pup activity, plus all of our other activities, consumes many hours of work each day from our dedicated volunteers, interns, and staff. Thank you everyone!

In addition to our monk seal field responses, sea turtle rescues, and seabird interventions  - we have been working on a project in cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to search for and monitor sea turtle nests on Oahu’s offshore islands! This is the first time this labor-intensive project has been conducted (see picture left), and it’s important work to determine where and how sea turtles are using the nesting habitat on these small offshore islands. This work takes many hours each week and is handled by specialized interns using HMAR kayaks as well as HMAR boats and crews to get out to these remote islands. 

 

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions – August total 25 (that's almost 1 every day!)

We conducted 25 rescues, interventions, stranding responses and escalated field actions in August. 4 of these were related to Hawaiian monk seals. 13 were for sea turtles in need, and 5 were to help seabirds. 

Here is a bit about our two of the most memorable sea turtle rescues in August. At the beginning of the month, right before our hotline closed for the day, we got a call about a sea turtle on the North Shore with a hook in its mouth (see picture below). Our responders arrived on scene and attempted to remove the hook. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful but we were able to transport the sea turtle so that a NOAA veterinarian could remove the hook that evening. The next day the sea turtle patient was released back into the wild (see picture left). We love a good success story! [Sea turtle activity conducted pursuant to 50 CFR 222.310.]

Also, late in the afternoon one day last month, we got a call about a sea turtle wedged between two rocks. The sea conditions had been particularly rough that day, and the turtle had gotten stuck, unable to free itself! Our team immediately responded but finding the turtle was more difficult than expected. The public callers had already left the area, and finding a turtle in a small crack was more difficult than we had expected (see picture right)! Thankfully our staff have eagle eyes, and McKinley was able to spot the turtle after a few minutes of searching. Using the force of the waves, we removed the very active turtle, who immediately started flapping its flippers, ready to go for a swim. When McKinley released this little guy, he booked it through the water and was out of sight!

Remember, if you come upon a sea turtle that needs help, please call us right away so a trained responder can assist if possible. Attempting to intervene without proper training, experience, and the necessary federal permit can cause injuries to the turtle, injuries to you, and could be a violation of federal and state laws. 

We also had some exciting seabird rescues this month! We had several downed brown boobies that we responded to, as well as a couple of wedge-tailed shearwaters. One of our most interesting seabird rescues was a brown booby at Kaena Point. The bird was resting about 3 feet from the edge of the rocks near the ocean and had a clearly injured wing, which was hanging into the tide pool next to it. We were able to carefully capture the seabird but it was very chatty during the process, and the bird was transported to the great team at Feather and Fur Animal Hospital in Kailua for treatment! 

Please call to report any Hawaiian monk seals seen, as well as any sea turtles, seabirds, dolphins or whales that may need help. The NOAA marine wildlife hotline can be reached at (888) 256-9840.

Marine Debris - More Great Results in August!

You may not know, but our marine debris team does more than just diving. Before August, our team had seven fishing debris collection bins deployed around the island at busy fishing locations. Fishers use these bins to collect their used line and hooks so that they can be recycled or disposed of properly. In August, thanks to a partnership with the State of Hawaii Division of State Parks, we will nearly double the number of bins on Oahu by adding 6 more - 1 at Sand Island, 4 in the Kaena Point State Park, and 1 at the Kaiwi Shoreline. We’re excited to add these new bins (see picture left) and to continue to prevent derelict fishing gear from entering the ocean at the source. In addition, our underwater marine debris removal activity stayed as strong as ever in August. We completed 4 dives, cleared 7.3 acres of underwater habitat, extracted 1,606 feet of monofilament line, and removed 123 animal hazards!

Number of People Reached Through Face to Face Outreach - August total 2,915 people

We reached 2,915 people with face-to-face outreach and education in August. The new school year is upon us, and our Education department is excited to start classroom activities again (see picture right).  We’ve started scheduling classes and have started our presentations.The first two classes we did were extra special. Two monk seal pups, PO8 and PO9, were both gifted their Hawaiian names. Waikiki Elementary’s 4th-grade classes gifted PO8 his name, and after much deliberation, they decided on the name “Koalani,” meaning “heavenly warrior”. Kahuku Elementary’s 5th-grade class gifted PO9 her name, “Lehiwa,” (lay-HE-va), meaning “attractive” and “admirable.” These students put in so much time, effort, and dedication towards gifting these pups their names, and we’re so excited for what the future holds for these little seals!

Additional News & Updates

In August, we added some new interns to our team! The fall semester has brought four new interns to our ranks and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them! Our interns work incredibly hard, each putting in 20 hours of work per week along with their classes and other jobs. So if you run into one of our interns, welcome them to the team. Are you interested in becoming an intern or know someone who would be? Head HERE to learn more about the program and to apply. Internships are an amazing opportunity to get your foot in the door in the marine sciences world. Not looking for such a large commitment? The same link takes you to our volunteer application! We have a new volunteer training class coming up in October so now is the time to apply!

Thank You!

As always, we can’t do the work we do without all of you!We rely heavily on public donations to pay for gas, supplies, staff, and all the other things we need to do our work. Marine animal response, rescue, and education is rewarding, but not inexpensive. If you want to support us, you can donate HERE and every dollar helps. Mahalo for your support!

______________________________________________________________________________

WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN?

Number of Calls - What does this mean? These are calls our hotline operators answer about any species in any situation. Whether it is a monk seal on the beach, a sea turtle of concern in the water, or a seabird that needs help. HMAR answers the calls that are made to the NOAA’s marine wildlife number for Oahu and Molokai and we take calls from the public, from the police, fire department, Ocean Safety as well as State of Hawaii agencies. Any call that comes into our hotline is reported here. Some calls result in a field response but many are valuable for animal sightings information or other data that can assist in research. Since our start in 2016, we’ve taken over 47,000 calls.

Number of Field Support Actions - What does this mean? This is when HMAR sends volunteer or staff resources into the field to perform a variety of actions in support of marine protected animals including Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, sea birds, dolphins, and whales. Since our start in 2016, we have had volunteers or staff in the field over 22,500 times.

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions - What does this mean? This number includes any field response that goes above and beyond a typical resting monk seal response. This includes responding to a seal of concern, an entangled, hooked, or injured sea turtle, a seabird in need of medical support, and other situations. Since 2016, we have performed over 1,800 of these actions.

Marine Debris Work - Each week our marine debris team removes underwater entanglement hazards (net, line, hooks) from high fishing pressure areas to reduce animal entanglements, hookings, injuries and death of protected marine animals. Since we started our underwater removal activities, our Marine Debris Program (MDP) has removed more than 3,000 animal hazards, cleaned over 250 acres of underwater habitat, and we have collected over 38 miles of monofilament fishing line. Taking all of this debris out of underwater habitat helps save Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, and seabirds.

Number of People Reached through Face to Face Outreach - What does this mean? HMAR’s different program activities put our volunteers and staff in direct contact with Hawaii’s residents and visitors. Educating people about Hawaii’s marine protected species and our ocean ecosystem is one of our highest priorities and has an important impact on reducing threats. This number includes outreach done on the beaches as well as the work our Education and Engagement team does going to classes and community outreach events. Since our start we’ve reached over 275,000 people.

Thank you for your continued support!


July 2022 Update

MONTHLY HMAR UPDATE: JULY 2022

July was wild! With a surprise pup born on Kaimana Beach in busy Waikiki Beach, and lots of field support, interventions, rescues, and education activities, we have bunches to tell you about the past few weeks! Read on to learn all about our July 2022 activity!

Number of Calls to HMAR – July total 542 (about 17 per day)

We received more calls this month than last with 431 calls relating to monk seals, 85 turtle calls and 26 seabird calls!

Number of Field Support Actions  – July total 323 (about 11 per day)

A lot of our field activities were on Kaimana Beach this month. On July 9th in the very early morning Hawaiian monk seal RH58 “Rocky” gave birth on Kaimana Beach in Waikiki to her 14th pup, PO8 (see picture left). Our volunteers, staff and interns have been on the beach each day since July 9th from 6am-8pm - thats 14 hours each day! We are now right around the half-way point for their time together on the beach. Sometime in August it will be time for Rocky to wean her pup and go out to forage. After that, PO8 will be on his own for the first time to learn how to forage! In other pupping news, PO6 and PO7 have both been weaned and gifted names - PO6 (now tagged as RQ76) was named “Malama” which means light, moon or month, and PO7 (tagged with roto tag “72”) was named “Mahina” which means moon! To learn why these names were chosen, check out our post about it! 

Our albatross team also finished their monitoring for the season at the end of the month when our chick fledged! (see picture right) Laysan albatross return to the islands each year in November to nest and the chicks hatch in February. When they are finally ready to leave the nest these chicks “fledge” meaning that they lose their down feathers to be replaced with the waterproof feathers that adults have, and they learn to fly. After that they are ready to go out to sea for the next few years! 

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions – July total 28 (that's almost 1 every day!)

This month was busy with important interventions and escalated field actions with Hawaiian monk seals - we had three major actions this month we want to share with you all.

In the late afternoon on the 4th of July we received a call about a seal in the road at Kualoa Beach (see picture left). Our team immediately responded along with the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) to check out the situation, where we found Hawaiian monk seal RK28 “KC” hanging out at the bus stop on the roadway (see picture left). A plan was made with NOAA’s input and our staff on site was able to safely move KC off the road and into the water using crowding boards! A huge thanks to HPD who directed traffic for us to keep everyone safe during the intervention!

Later in the month we received a call from our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who had located the recently weaned Hawaiian monk seal RQ64 “Laki” who was reported with an entanglement around her neck (See picture right). Our staff was immediately dispatched to the location and notified NOAA who sent a team as well. Luckily we were able to locate Laki and we were able to assist NOAA in the intervention to remove the net from around her neck and release her. This was a stark reminder of why our marine debris work is so important to the survival of the species we work with. This is not the first time something like this has happened with one of our young seals and it probably won’t be the last. You can do your part to help our marine debris team by participating in our citizen science project - "BEAT DEBRIS" - and pick up derelict fishing gear that you see while diving! Check out https://h-mar.org/debrisreport for more information!

Our last major escalated field action for seals is one you have likely heard of by now. On Sunday morning, July 24th, at Kaimana Beach in Waikiki, Rocky and PO8 went for a morning swim over by the natatorium. When they returned to the other side of the beach where they had been sleeping, people began exiting the water. One woman was swimming within the confines of the safety perimeter that has been up since the pup was born. Rocky perceived this as a potential threat to her pup and began vocalizing and swimming towards the swimmer before lunging at the woman, leaving her with injuries to her face, arm and back. This interaction was an important reminder for us that we are not law enforcement or human safety officers. Our role on the beach is to educate the public about safe distances from monk seals as well as to provide information about the mom and pup. We hope that this interaction was also a good reminder to the public about why we give the advice to swim elsewhere when a monk seal mom with a pup are in the area.

But, monk seal escalations weren’t the only thing going on this month. We also had our sea turtles and seabirds to worry about! In addition to our 7 monk seal escalations we also had 14 turtle rescues and 7 seabird rescues! One example occurred near the end of the month. McKinley and Emily (two of our staff members) went out to Laie to rescue a downed Black Noddy. The bird had injuries to both wings (see picture right) but still put up a heck of a fight while being rescued in the rain! When responders arrived the bird had hidden itself in a naupaka bush and we had to wait for the bird to come out before it was safe to capture. Thankfully after a few minutes of prep and planning the bird was carefully and safely captured and brought in for veterinarian support and treatment! 

In addition to our rescues in the field, we also held a rescue clinic for our volunteers! During these clinics we teach our volunteers how to handle animals and our general protocols when responding to a rescue situation. We cover all of the animals our rescue team could potentially come in contact with: monk seals, sea turtles, seabirds and cetaceans (see picture left). Across all of our programs, our rescue operations require the most training and funding. Each volunteer, staff member and intern must be trained, prepared and equipped. We also have to purchase and maintain all of the necessary supplies. There is so much more going on behind the scenes than what happens in the field. 

Marine Debris - More Excellent Results for July

Wow, July was big for our Marine Debris team! Over 6 dives our teams removed 13,178 feet of line, and 203 underwater animal hazards! In total they cleaned up 9.5 acres of underwater habitat on the south shore, west side and north shore of Oahu (see picture right)! Overall they collected 53.5 pounds of debris (most of which is lightweight and dangerous monofilament line and hooks!), the stuff that causes major injuries and deaths for monk seals, sea turtles, and seabirds. 

Number of People Reached Through Face to Face Outreach - July total 2,727 people

July was a busy month for our Education and Engagement team even though it's still summer! The largest event we participated in was the Bishop Museum’s “Seas the Day” event (see picture right) which was an absolute blast for our volunteers! We talked to over 400 people, educating them about Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles and their threats! We have also continued our usual outreach events at Waikiki Aquarium and are starting school presentations up again! If you are interested in having our Education team come to your classroom this fall - head to https://h-mar.org/education to fill out a request form!

Additional News & Updates

In addition to our usual activities we also had some special events happen this month! 

The two wedge tailed shearwater seabird colonies that we manage were surveyed this month because the birds have started nesting! Our colony in Kahuku had over 500 birds nesting this year - which is a large increase from our numbers last year (see picture left)! This increase is a great example of how simple conservation efforts (like roping off an area for the birds to nest in, engaging with community members and government agencies) can make a big difference! We’ll be back in September to find out how many of those burrows have chicks inside. 

At the end of the month we celebrated our volunteers with our first volunteer potluck and meeting in over two years! It was great to see our volunteers that were able to come out as well as give awards and recognitions! We did a special thank you to Cindy Jenness (see picture right) who in just the past few years has worked over 12,000 hours with HMAR helping Hawaii’s marine protected animals and the ocean! 

We also have a new opportunity for local college students to pursue - a stipend internship! If you have a background consistent with training, family history/activity, or personal experiences involving ocean health, sustainability, and responsible use and management of ocean resources. We are particularly looking to recruit from Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities. Check out https://h-mar.org/stipend-internship for more information!

We greatly appreciate your support of HMAR, we couldn’t do what we do without you! If you would like to provide additional support, you can donate or volunteer today! In July, we kicked off a special fundraising campaign for a response truck. We can’t do the work we do without our trucks, and we need another truck to take the load off our trucks that are getting old. You can donate today at https://gofund.me/a9fa074b or you can donate to our general fund at https://h-mar.org/get-involved/. That web page also brings you to our volunteer application page, and we are always looking for new volunteers! 

______________________________________________________________________________

WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN?

Number of Calls - What does this mean? These are calls our hotline operators answer about any species in any situation. Whether it is a monk seal on the beach, a sea turtle of concern in the water, or a seabird that needs help. HMAR answers the calls that are made to the NOAA’s marine wildlife number for Oahu and Molokai and we take calls from the public, from the police, fire department, Ocean Safety as well as State of Hawaii agencies. Any call that comes into our hotline is reported here. Some calls result in a field response but many are valuable for animal sightings information or other data that can assist in research. Since our start in 2016, we’ve taken over 47,000 calls.

Number of Field Support Actions - What does this mean? This is when HMAR sends volunteer or staff resources into the field to perform a variety of actions in support of marine protected animals including Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, sea birds, dolphins, and whales. Since our start in 2016, we have had volunteers or staff in the field over 22,000 times.

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions - What does this mean? This number includes any field response that goes above and beyond a typical resting monk seal response. This includes responding to a seal of concern, an entangled, hooked, or injured sea turtle, a seabird in need of medical support, and other situations. Since 2016, we have performed over 1,800 of these actions.

Marine Debris Work - Each week our marine debris team removes underwater entanglement hazards (net, line, hooks) from high fishing pressure areas to reduce animal entanglements, hookings, injuries and death of protected marine animals. Since we started our underwater removal activities, our Marine Debris Program (MDP) has removed more than 3,000 animal hazards, cleaned over 250 acres of underwater habitat, and we have collected over 38 miles of monofilament fishing line. Taking all of this debris out of underwater habitat helps save Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, and seabirds.

Number of People Reached through Face to Face Outreach - What does this mean? HMAR’s different program activities put our volunteers and staff in direct contact with Hawaii’s residents and visitors. Educating people about Hawaii’s marine protected species and our ocean ecosystem is one of our highest priorities and has an important impact on reducing threats. This number includes outreach done on the beaches as well as the work our Education and Engagement team does going to classes and community outreach events. Since our start we’ve reached over 275,000 people.

Thank you for your continued support!


June 2022 Update

MONTHLY HMAR UPDATE: JUNE 2022

June was a busy month, we can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly! We’ve included some highlights from the month below, so be sure to check them out, and if you want to see the explanations for each of the numbers we report, please check the bottom of the post!

Number of Calls to HMAR – June total 464 (about 15 per day)

Of those calls: 351 were regarding monk seals, 88 about sea turtles, and 25 about seabirds. We also received a call about juvenile Hammerhead sharks on the southeast side of Oahu. May through June is the pupping season for Hammerhead sharks in Hawaii and each year we get calls about these young sharks washing up on shore. Since these animals don’t fall under our operations, we passed the information along to the Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR). 

Number of Field Support Actions  – June total 164 (about 5 per day)

On average, each field support action usually involves about 4.5 hours of volunteer or staff time, so this work collectively required hundreds of hours of work. Here are some highlights from this month! Hawaiian monk seal RK96 “Kaiwi” was reported hauled out on beaches for over half the month! Turns out she was getting ready to begin her annual molt (see picture left) when monk seals lose their pelage (fur) and the top layer of skin, to reveal a brand new coat. Now that she has begun her molt we can say Kaiwi will likely not be pupping this year. Speaking of monk seal pups, RQ64 “Laki” and RQ24 “Maka’u’ole” both officially were weaned and tagged this month (see picture right)! Both are still looking nice and chunky and are doing well on their own! Plus, we have two new pups that have been born as well, both are doing well and are still with their moms at this point, and we are currently working with schools in the area for children to gift them names! In June, we continued our research work to survey the offshore islands for sea turtle nesting activity (see picture left). This project, working with the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service, will continue throughout the summer and is important to determine how sea turtles are using the Hawaiian islands for nesting.

 

 

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions – June total 18 (about 1 every other day)

As you have likely seen, this month our team responded to the sad report of a deceased Hawaiian monk seal. We arrived on the scene and identified the seal as the well-known RE74 “Benny” (see picture left). We were able to collect and transport Benny to NOAA’s facility on Ford Island where a necropsy was performed. At this point, there has been no clear cause of death and we are awaiting tissue sample analysis. This is an incredibly sad loss for the Oahu monk seal community and we will miss seeing Benny on our beaches and the mischief he was so well known for. In addition to this extensive stranding response, we responded to a number of sea turtles and seabirds this month as well. For example, we received a call one morning about a potentially stuck or deceased sea turtle on Oahu’s south shore (see picture right). Our team responded to assess the animal, when they arrived the turtle was quite dried out and exhibiting very little movement. We collected the animal and placed it in one of our rescue bins so we could perform a body condition and activity level assessment. Once in the bin, it became extremely lively and after finishing our assessment, it was released back onto the sand where it quickly moved towards the water and swam away. We believe that this sea turtle was likely basking and waiting for the tide to come back in but it was good to be able to assess it. Although we don’t often get reports of sea turtles basking in the area where this turtle was reported, this was a great reminder that our green sea turtles (honu) are beginning to bask in new locations each year! Of the 18 rescue-related actions in June, one was for Hawaiian monk seals, 12 were for sea turtles, and 5 were for seabirds. There were no cetacean (whales and dolphins) actions in June. Remember, only trained responders with proper government authority should be handling marine protected species such as sea turtles, so if you see a marine protected animal of concern, please call the NOAA marine wildlife hotline at (888) 256-9840. When you call to report an animal on Oahu or Molokai, you’ll be talking to an HMAR team member.

Marine Debris - More Excellent Results for June

This month, our team dove a total of four times all over the island to remove marine debris that can injure or kill marine protected animals (see picture left). From the East to the West side, we collected nearly 1,800 feet of line, cleaned about 5 acres of underwater habitat, and removed 51 animal hazards that could have hooked or entangled monk seals, sea turtles or seabirds. We also finished off our 2nd quarter BEAT DEBRIS citizen-science contest this month and selected our prize winner! Keep an eye on social media for our next contest which will be starting in July. 

Number of People Reached Through Face to Face Outreach - June total 870 people

June was World Oceans Month and our Education team participated in a number of public outreach events celebrating our oceans! This month our team participated in 5 outreach events, and we talked with hundreds of people about marine protected animals, marine debris, and actions every person can take to help! One weekend this month our Education team partnered with our Marine Debris team, Aaron’s Dive Shop and Sea Life Park to host an in-water cleanup at the Makai Research Pier (see picture right). We discussed the impacts of marine debris on Hawaii’s protected species and our BEAT DEBRIS citizen-science project. It was a great turn out and we’ll definitely be hosting another one in the coming months so keep an eye out for that! In the field, we continued to do outreach talking about our monk seals, sea turtles, and seabirds!

Additional News & Updates

We really wanted to highlight how amazing our volunteers and interns are, and we are so lucky to have such dedicated people on our team! June was the last month for two of our long-term interns: Kelly (pictured at left) and Rui (on the left in the picture right). Kelly has been with us for over six months and this is actually her second internship with us, having been an intern the summer of 2021 as well! Kelly has handled some key activities for us and was our first stipend intern where she took over field staff shifts for us! Rui has been with HMAR for a year and has participated in each of our programs! Rui has spent most of her time in our Marine Debris and Marine Operations programs but she has done a little bit of everything.  We are incredibly grateful for both of these interns who have been such an integral part of the team. We will miss them!  In total, in the month of June, our volunteers and interns dedicated nearly 3,000 hours to HMAR. We are also currently in the process of training a new group of volunteers and interns as well! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or future intern, you can find out more HERE.

Thank You!

We greatly appreciate your support of HMAR, and we couldn’t do what we do without you! If you would like to provide additional support, you can donate or volunteer today! In June, we kicked off a special fundraising campaign for a response truck. We can’t do the work we do without our trucks, and we need another truck to take the load off of our trucks that are getting old. You can make a donation to help fund another HMAR truck at https://gofund.me/a9fa074b or you can donate to our general fund HERE. That link will also lead you to our volunteer application page, and we are always looking for new volunteers! 

______________________________________________________________________________

WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN?

Number of Calls - What does this mean? These are calls our hotline operators answer about any species in any situation. Whether it is a monk seal on the beach, a sea turtle of concern in the water, or a seabird that needs help. HMAR answers the calls that are made to the NOAA’s marine wildlife number for Oahu and Molokai and we take calls from the public, from the police, fire department, Ocean Safety as well as State of Hawaii agencies. Any call that comes into our hotline is reported here. Some calls result in a field response but many are valuable for animal sightings information or other data that can assist in research. Since our start in 2016, we’ve taken over 46,000 calls.

Number of Field Support Actions - What does this mean? This is when HMAR sends volunteer or staff resources into the field to perform a variety of actions in support of marine protected animals including Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, sea birds, dolphins, and whales. Since our start in 2016, we have had volunteers or staff in the field over 21,000 times.

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions - What does this mean? This number includes any field response that goes above and beyond a typical resting monk seal response. This includes responding to a seal of concern, an entangled, hooked, or injured sea turtle, a seabird in need of medical support, and other situations. Since 2016, we have performed over 1,700 of these actions.

Marine Debris Work - Each week our marine debris team removes underwater entanglement hazards (net, line, hooks) from high fishing pressure areas to reduce animal entanglements, hookings, injuries and death of protected marine animals. Since we started our underwater removal activities, we’ve removed more than 3,200 animal hazards, cleaned over 200 acres of underwater habitat, and we have collected many many miles of monofilament fishing line. Taking all of this debris out of underwater habitat helps save Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, and seabirds.

Number of People Reached through Face to Face Outreach - What does this mean? HMAR’s different program activities put our volunteers and staff in direct contact with Hawaii’s residents and visitors. Educating people about Hawaii’s marine protected species and our ocean ecosystem is one of our highest priorities and has an important impact on reducing threats. This number includes outreach done on the beaches as well as the work our Education and Engagement team does going to classes and community outreach events. Since our start we’ve reached over 270,000 people.

Thank you for your continued support!


May 2022 Update

MONTHLY HMAR UPDATE: MAY 2022

This is the first in a series of posts we will be doing monthly so we can give you all a better idea of what goes on each month here at HMAR! Every month here is different, but it’s always busy in one way or another and we want to give you all the inside scoop! Our work each day is important to the conservation of Hawaii’s marine protected species and we can’t do what we do without you! So here’s some of what we did in May 2022.

Number of Calls to HMAR – May = 499 (about 17 per day)

What does this mean? These are calls our hotline operators answer about any species in any situation. Whether it is a monk seal on the beach, a turtle of concern in the water, or a seabird that needs help. HMAR answers the calls that are made to the NOAA marine wildlife number for Oahu and Molokai and we take calls from the public, from the police, fire department, Ocean Safety and State of Hawaii agencies. Any call that comes into our hotline is reported in this number and all calls are answered by either HMAR staff, interns or our dedicated volunteers. Some calls result in a field response but many are valuable for animal sightings information or other data that can assist in research. These calls come in 7 days a week, 365 days a year, 12 hours a day and since our start in 2016, we’ve taken over 46,000 calls.

 

 

Instances of Field Support Actions – May = 294 (about 10 per day)

What does this mean? This is when HMAR sends a volunteer or staff resources into the field to perform a variety of actions in support of marine protected animals including Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, sea birds, dolphins, and whales. Since our start in 2016, we have had volunteers or staff in the field over 21,000 times!

 

 

 

Number of Rescues, Interventions, Stranding Responses and Escalated Field Actions – May = 11 (about 3 per week)

What does this mean? This number includes any field response that goes above and beyond a typical resting monk seal response. This includes responding to a seal of concern, and entangled, hooked, or injured sea turtle, a seabird in need of medical support, a dolphin or whale of concern, and other situations. In May, there were fewer of these types of responses than we normally handle during a month on average, but that's a good thing! Since 2016, we have performed over 1,700 of these actions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marine Debris Activity - What does this include?

Each week our marine debris team removes underwater entanglement hazards (nets, line, hooks) from high fishing pressure areas to reduce animal entanglements, hookings, injuries and death of protected marine animals. Since we started our underwater removal activities, we’ve removed more than 3,200 animal hazards, cleaned over 200 underwater acres of habitat, and collected MANY MILES of monofilament fishing line. This month we collected 12 pounds of debris, which might not sound like a lot, but its over 500 feet of line and over 65 entanglement hazards! Our marine debris team dove 3 times this month in places like Electric Beach and Makai Pier. During their dives this month our volunteers saw monk seals, sea turtles, dolphins and sharks, plus so much more!

 

Number of People Reached Through Face to Face Outreach – May = 637

What does this mean? HMAR’s different program activities put our volunteers and staff in direct contact with Hawaii’s residents and visitors. Educating people about Hawaii’s marine protected species and our ocean ecosystem is one of our highest priorities and has an important impact on reducing threats. This number includes outreach done on the beaches as well as the work our Education and Engagement team does going to classes and community outreach events. This is the number of people we have reached via face-to-face activity this month. Since our start we’ve reached over 270,000 people!

 

 

News & Updates – We have new members on our team! In February, we added McKinley Walter to our staff as a Field Support Technician and then in May we added two part-time seasonal employees, Anabel Cepero and Evelyn Macias - this means we now have 9 people on our staff team spanning the islands of Oahu and Molokai! In addition, during May three new volunteers completed their field training and joined our team. We continue to grow as does our ability to make a difference. We’re so excited about the new additions to our team and the impact they will make!

We greatly appreciate your support of HMAR, we couldn’t do what we do without you! If you would like to provide additional support, you can donate or volunteer today! We are currently fundraising for an additional field response truck so we can continue to do our work every day - you can donate today at https://gofund.me/a9fa074b or you can donate to our general fund at https://h-mar.org/get-involved/.

This link also takes you to our volunteer application page because we are always looking for great new volunteers!

Thank you for your continued support!


An Ocean of Plastic: Problems and Solutions

An Ocean of Plastic: Problems and Solutions

By Devon Stapleton

The Plastic Problem

There has been a scary metric spreading across many media platforms that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by the year 2050 (Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2016). Where is this plastic coming from and how do we stop the pervasive nature of this global issue? “Plastics,” is a very broad term that describes human made waste that persists in a marine environment (NOAA, 2008). Plastic is just one kind of marine debris, too. Marine debris could be as small as microscopic plastic that is not visible with the human eye to a sunken ship. But, the one thing that all marine debris have in common is their impact on the natural environment, and on many marine species. 

Marine debris comes from numerous different sources, such as mismanagement of landfill, littering on land where rain and winds can carry the debris into the ocean, and disposal at sea. A surprising but significant source is fishing boats that either deliberately or accidentally lose their fishing lines, hooks, and nets (Lebreton et al. 2018). This is a global issue, but is extremely prevalent in Hawaii because the islands are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, placed at the bottom of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Nearly 60% of the marine debris measured in a recent study was found to float because it is less dense than the saltwater (Lebreton et al. 2018). Oceanic currents and winds transport plastic marine debris to other parts of the ocean or back onto coastlines. The plastics can break down over time into smaller pieces depending on conditions like sunlight exposure and waves. Due to unique current systems there is a large amount of the marine debris in the ocean that accumulates in the Pacific between Hawaii and California, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Lebreton et al. 2018). These currents are also pushing significant amounts of marine debris to Hawaii’s coastlines and beaches.

Marine debris is not only polluting Hawaii’s iconic beaches, but it is impacting the local marine species such as Hawaiian monk seals, Hawaiian green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, humpback whales, seabirds, and other marine life in the region. Smaller species can mistake smaller broken down plastics as food and consume or filter feed it. Larger species will then consume many of these smaller species, which means plastic can move up the food chain. The seafood that we eat are top predators that have consumed plastics through this process, meaning we can consume those microscopic plastics as well (NOAA, 2020). The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program that recommends more sustainable seafood options. Plastic consumption is just one marine debris impact though. There is also the issue of marine debris entanglement, especially in fishing gear. This often occurs with the Hawaiian monk seals, Hawaiian green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, humpback whales in Hawaii, causing them to either be unable to swim, breathe, or other threats to survival. This can exhaust them and lessen or stop their abilities to eat food for survival. 

How can you help as an individual?

 While marine debris is a growing threat, there is a lot each individual person can do to help. The first way to combat marine debris from getting into the ocean is by limiting the amount of plastic that is used in our daily lives. The “zero waste movement” has been growing over the past 5 years, which encourages people to significantly lessen the amount of waste they produce.

  • The first step to reducing your waste is using what you already have. There are many new and exciting zero waste products that can now be purchased, but remember the most sustainable products are what you already own.
  • As you consider replacing items, look for plastic free alternatives. Each day there are new alternatives being made, like shampoo and conditioner bars that lather and clean the same, but do not come in plastic containers. There’s makeup in bamboo containers now, toothpaste tablets, and even reusable Q-tips. Many are familiar with reusable straws, but plastic straws are a actually a small contributor to the plastics that end up in the ocean (NOAA, 2020). When it’s an option saying no to single use plastics is ideal, but plastic utensils, ziplock bags, and take out bags can be reused multiple times. There are zero waste options like beeswax paper that replace plastic wrap, bamboo utensil kits that replace plastic utensils, and bamboo brushes and dish soap bars.
  • Vote with your dollar. You can support the changes you want to see by voting with your dollar. As these sustainable options become more popular they become cheaper and it encourages other companies to follow their lead.
  • Shop locally. You can also help by shopping local, which reduces carbon emissions. If that’s not an option, you can support companies that use low-waste packaging and carbon offset their shipments.
  • Advocate and participate. If you want to help in a more direct way, you can! Participating in organized or personal beach clean ups helps remove plastics out of the environment. As an HMAR volunteer, you can participate in community conservation measures and help make a difference. You can also talk to companies, big or small, and let them know that sustainable business practices are a priority for you as a consumer. Another option is to vote for climate leadership to make larger-scale changes in your community and country. The final large way to make change is through educating others on this issue and ways they can help.

Working towards reducing or eliminating plastics in the ocean is not about being perfect, it is about making small changes that can hopefully make a big difference. All of these small changes add up to a significant positive impact for our oceans and the marine animals we care about.



Work Cited:

  • Lebreton, L., et al. “Evidence That the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Rapidly Accumulating
    Plastic.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 22 Mar. 2018, www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22939-w.   
  • Macarthur, Ellen. The New Plastic Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics & Catalysing Action, Ellen Macarthur Foundation, Jan. 2016
  • US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Ocean Pollution.” Ocean Pollution | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2020. www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/ocean-coasts/ocean-pollution.   
  • US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “What Is Marine Debris?” NOAA’s National Ocean Service, 14 Nov. 2008. oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/marinedebris.html.