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Celebrating West Maui from Ridge to Reef

By Staff | Jul 2, 2015

The Ridge to Reef Rendezvous will feature a culinary contest with an ocean-themed edible.

KAANAPALI – Mark your calendars for July 25, the sixth annual event to celebrate an ongoing and collaborative effort to take care of ocean health in West Maui: The Ridge to Reef Rendezvous.

If you haven’t been to Kahekili Beach Park recently, you are missing out on snorkeling one of the most accessible – and cared-for – reefs on Maui.

While floating above schools of parrotfish and yellow tang, you may ask yourself, “What’s going right on this reef?”

One part of the answer relates to the unique management area that protects herbivores (seaweed eaters) established six years ago. Many individuals in the Maui community, representing local groups, agencies and businesses, have devoted countless hours caring for this reef within the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) through efforts focused from mauka to makai.

These efforts all fall under the West Maui Ridge to Reef (R2R) Initiative and its goal of addressing pollution reaching the ocean from the land. The event celebrates these partnerships and the many reasons to come together as a community to learn a little, get involved in ocean stewardship and have a lot of fun!

The Ridge to Reef Rendezvous will be held at Kahekili Beach Park (otherwise known as Old Airport Beach) in North Kaanapali from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 25, and it’s free to the public.

The day promises fun for all ages, beginning with a catch and release papio fishing tournament (check in at 8 a.m.) with great prizes.

Open your eyes to the underwater world in a new way with Division of Aquatic Resources Biologist Darla White, who will lead two morning reef tours.

Find yourself engaged in conversation with local conservation groups under the R2R hui tent, where volunteer information, demonstrations and hands-on interactive displays make it fun to learn about how to malama Maui.

Take the learning one step further with a good-natured “stump a scientist” challenge, where visiting researchers must sufficiently answer participants’ questions to avoid a humorous “penalty” imposed by the participants.

And anyone can enter the culinary contest with an ocean-themed edible. Previous years featured cupcake sea urchins, a watermelon carved into a shark, and an entirely edible sea to summit watershed complete with gummy fish suspended in Jell-O your imagination is the only limit.

If salty eats are more your thing, come taste what resort chefs have dreamed up in the first limu poke challenge. All West Maui resorts are invited to bring a sampling of limu poke for participants to try and vote on via social media hashtag #MauiPokeChallenge. The only rule for entry is that the poke be from non-herbivore species, in the spirit of the KHFMA and its protected – and important – species.

While enjoying the food, games and giveaways, you can also appreciate this year’s event theme, “Resilience,” and the continuous effort it takes to keep Maui vibrant.

“This year’s event is all about fun ways to learn more and get involved, with a focus on all the positive action underway by so many in support of this watershed and reef. Despite all the ?doom and gloom’ talk about reef decline and degradation that’s out there, Maui’s marine environment has a lot of bright spots that show resilience, or the ability to recover and persist in the face of threats to its health,” said Liz Foote, coordinator of Kaanapali Makai Watch, one of the Ridge to Reef Rendezvous’ sponsors.

“The KHFMA certainly represents a potential bright spot, and much of that optimism is based on recent observations in the water as well as the ongoing support from the community. We hope to share these messages with a wide array of residents and visitors at our event.”

Food will be provided through the generous support of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and CJ’s Deli and Diner. Plus, the first 30 people to check in on the day of the event will receive a free T-shirt from the West Maui Kumuwai Campaign. There will be other giveaways as part of the event, such as ocean-friendly cleaning products for car-washing and other uses, and water efficiency devices for the home provided by the County of Maui Department of Water Supply.

This annual celebration has expanded to include a Friday evening event, a “Speed-Date-a-Scientist” pau hana, to be held at Maui Brewing Company’s Kahana Brewpub from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday July 24. Watch for more information about this fun evening, where local researchers will be on-hand to answer questions and share information about their work, adopting the popular “speed dating” format.

For more information, visit the Kaanapali Makai Watch Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KaanapaliMakaiWatch, e-mail KaanapaliMakaiWatch@gmail.com or call 669-9062.