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Volunteers collect 1,056 pounds of debris on World Oceans Day

By Staff | Jun 27, 2019

During the microplastic ecotour, 68 citizen scientists collected 36 containers of surface water from Olowalu for analysis.

MAALAEA – On June 8, Pacific Whale Foundation was proud to present World Oceans Day on Maui, with special events at Kahului Harbor, Paia Bay, Kamaole III Beach Park, Maalaea, Olowalu and Maui Brewing Company in Kihei.

World Oceans Day is an annual celebration of the ocean, its importance to our lives and how each of us can protect it no matter where we live.

This year’s theme was “Together We Can,” encouraging people from around the world to share what they are doing to protect the ocean, showcasing the idea that together, we can make a difference.

“This free Pacific Whale Foundation outreach event really helps us to teach and learn from our friends in the field about small steps each of us can take to make a huge impact, when practiced as a community,” said PWF Executive Director Kristie Wrigglesworth.

Event highlights included beach cleanups at Kahului Harbor, Paia Bay and Kamaole III; a free PacWhale Eco-Adventures cruise from Maalaea to Olowalu for a hands-on plankton-tow activity, snorkel reef cleanup and sea-surface microplastic sampling; movie night at Paia Bay Coffee; Front Street Treasure Hunt; Pollution Solutions art contest for keiki; and a Party for the Ocean at Maui Brewing Co.

Approximately 1,056 pounds of debris were collected throughout the day by 168 participating volunteers. Seventy-two percent of the total debris was removed from Kahului Harbor – 50 bags of trash weighing 760 pounds, including 242 feet of fishing line. Another 246 pounds was removed at Kamaole III and 50 pounds at Paia Bay. Sixty-four percent of the debris collected was plastic.

On the microplastic ecotour, 68 citizen scientists collected 36 sixteen-ounce containers of surface water from Olowalu. After PWF’s Research Team analyzed the samples, they found 246 pieces of microplastics and 165 microfibers, which equates to 0.43 microplastics per ounce of seawater and 0.29 microfibers per ounce of seawater.

Last year, 36 samples were collected, and 0.14 microplastics per ounce of seawater were found (no data for microfibers).

According to Pacific Whale Foundation Senior Research Analyst Jens Currie, the microplastic counts are baseline data, and the team will be looking to see how these trends change over time.

“Everyone needs to play a part,” stated Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations.

“You can make a difference today, and every day, by doing simple things like carrying your own water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags, recycling the plastic you buy, avoiding products that contain microplastics and volunteering for a local cleanup.”

Party for the Ocean was a success, with over 150 people stopping by to play Oceans Day Bingo, make their own microplastic-free body scrub, learn how to host a green event, and catch up on Pacific Whale Foundation’s core Research, Education and Conservation work.

Mikaela Petrilli won the drawing for the Keiki Plastic Pollution Solutions art contest.