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LETTERS for June 25 issue

By Staff | Jun 25, 2015

Sanctuary marks 13 years of whale rescues

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) reports that the close of 2015’s whale season marks 13 years of whale rescue operations by the Hawaiian Islands Disentanglement Network.

Since its inception in 2002, the network has freed 22 large whales from life-threatening entanglements. More than 9,500 feet of larger gauge line has been recovered from entangled whales.

The sanctuary and partners have also helped free many other marine animals, including sea turtles, mantas, dolphins and monk seals. The primary objective is to work together to gain information in order to reduce the threat in the future for humpback whales as well as other species.

HIHWNMS is releasing newly edited footage and images from the most recent large whale disentanglement in February 2015, plus unique imagery of a compelling 2013 rescue of a young humpback, the first calf ever cut free by the team.

The footage from 2013 shows a humpback whale calf with a life-threatening tight wrap of line around its body, being accompanied by its mother. The crew used a specially designed knife on a long pole to cut the line and free the calf. The rescue earlier this year documents the disentanglement of an adult humpback whale with tight wraps of heavy gauge line around its tail and trailing hundreds of feet behind.

Marine mammal entanglement, or by-catch, is a global problem that every year results in the death of hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals. For large whales, the impact is typically not immediate, as the animals can pull gear off the ocean floor and swim off with it.

Freeing a 45-ton animal in the open ocean is dangerous for the animal and rescuers. As a result, response requires authorization and permits under NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Responders, as seen in the imagery, are well-trained and equipped.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary works with its partners – NOAA Fisheries, Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard, fishermen, the tour industry and others – to lead a community-based network to respond to large whales in life-threatening entanglements.

MALIA CHOW, Superintendent, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary


Tutoring project appreciates support

The Lahaina Tutoring Project and owners of Aina Nalu thank the following for their donations to the tutor project’s fundraiser: Barbara & Lee Potts, People for Educational Equality, Friends of Alan Arakawa, Outrigger Resorts, Sharon Morris & Larry Carlson, Mama’s Fish House, Grand Wailea Resort, Debbie Arakaki, Soroptimist International of West Maui, Waipahe Productions, White Lotus Photography, Coconut Condos, Kaanapali Shores 241 LLC, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Old Lahaina Luau, Hyatt Regency Maui, Maui Jim Sunglasses, TS Restaurants, Fleetwood’s on Front St., Gazebo Restaurant, Warren & Annabelle’s, Karen Nierhake, Koa Seaside Grill, Charles Fredy-Chambers & Chambers, Mala, Penne Pasta, Jeanne Riley, Kahiholu Ltd./Lynn & Phillip Kasper, Sea House Restaurant, Lahaina Pizza, Maui Paper and Chemical, Ace Hardware, Maui Real Estate Photography, Kathy Perry at Salon Bella Maui, Hale Napili, Maui Ocean Center, Captain Jack’s, Earl Thompson Art, Cool Cat Caf, Bad Ass Coffee, Maria & Victor Terra, Ono Gelato Company, Sugar Cane Maui, Tom & Karen Voycik, Honolulu Cookie Company, Kaanapali Land Management, Dr. Greg Owen Chiropractic, Gerald Gifford, Lahaina Coolers, Maui Brewing Company, Linda Chiu, The Bakery, Longhi’s, Safeway, Starbucks, Flo & Galen Wiger, 5A Rent A Space, LahainaTown Action Committee, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Rotary Clubs of Lahaina, Karen & Tommy Kondo, Peggy Robertson, Lahaina Fish Company, Expeditions, CJ’s Deli & Diner, Maverick Events, Old Republic Title & Escrow, Cutco Cutlery, UFO Parasail, Lori Powers, Trilogy, Pacific Whale Foundation, Pi Artisan Pizzeria, Debbi & Stuart Katz, Body in Balance, Alii Nui Sailing Charters, Jessica Pearl Photography, Don & Carol Heape, Lahaina Cruise Company, Jim & Donna Tarsitano, Lahaina Stables, Michael Miller Insurance, Edward & Rhonda Pierce, Bay West Properties, Om & Merrelyn Khama, Maui Sports Adventure, Chris Larson, Luana Kama, Atlantis Submarine, Anna Severson, Ellie Blanch/For Your Lash Only, Macy Lawrence, Connie & Phil Flaker, D’Best Vacation Services, Halo, Patricia Grant, Zensations Spa, Andre Adoloffo Studio, Lahaina Gallery, Jeff & Jill Kaiser, Saltwater Signs, Julie Vermaas, Special Touch Florist, Anthony Bianchi, Janet Bostick/Hair Salon Unlimited, Gary Larson, JoAnn Shipe, Doll Aricayos, William Jalbert, Barnes and Noble, Denise Cote, Barbara Kerbox, Gwen Woirhaye, Shelly Hee, Crossfit-Megan Hilderbrand, Raquel Utrillo Hairstylist, Gary Hansen, Virginia Keen, Marsha Nakamura and Leanna Roberts.

We couldn’t do it without you! Mahalo!

PAT & RICHARD ENDSLEY, Lahaina Tutor Project


Do I need Medicare Part B?

People ask me all kinds of questions about Medicare. One of the most frequent concerns is whether they should sign up for Medicare Part B.

Part B is medical insurance. It covers professional fees for doctors and other healthcare providers, outpatient treatment, durable medical equipment, home health services, and preventive care like flu shots and screenings for cancer and heart disease.

Part B requires a monthly premium, which is $104.90 for most Americans in 2015. You’re not required to pay the premium if you don’t want Part B coverage. But is it to your advantage to pay? The answer depends on your current and future health insurance coverage and needs.

Let’s say you don’t have any other health insurance when you become eligible for Medicare. You should enroll in Part B when you’re first eligible (which, for most people, is when they turn 65). If you don’t sign up for Part B when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare.

What if you have insurance through your current job? If you or your spouse (or family member if you’re disabled) are still working, and you’re insured through that employer or a union, contact your employer or union benefits administrator to find out how your insurance works with Medicare. This includes federal or state employment. It may be to your advantage to delay Part B enrollment.

You can sign up for Part B without a penalty any time you have health coverage based on current employment. (Keep in mind that COBRA and retiree health coverage do not count as current health coverage.)

Once your employment (or your employer/union coverage) ends, three things happen:

You may be able to get COBRA coverage, which continues your health insurance through the employer’s plan (in most cases for only 18 months) and probably at a higher cost to you.

You have eight months to sign up for Part B without a penalty, whether or not you choose COBRA. To sign up for Part B while you’re employed or during the eight months after employment ends, complete an Application for Enrollment in Part B (CMS-40B) and a Request for Employment Information (CMS-L564). If you choose COBRA, don’t wait until your COBRA ends to enroll in Part B. If you don’t enroll in Part B during the eight months after the employment ends, you may have to pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B, you won’t be able to enroll until Jan. 1 to March 31, and you’ll have to wait until July 1 of that year before your coverage begins. This may cause a gap in your coverage.

If you already have COBRA when you enroll in Medicare, your COBRA will probably end. If you become eligible for COBRA after you’re already enrolled in Medicare, you must be allowed to take the COBRA coverage. It will always be secondary to Medicare (unless you have End-Stage Renal Disease).

What if you have TRICARE? If you have TRICARE and Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), you must have Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage. If you’re an active-duty service member, or the spouse or dependent child of an active-duty service member, you don’t have to enroll in Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage while the service member is on active duty.

Before the active-duty service member retires, you must enroll in Part B to keep TRICARE without a break in coverage.

If you have veterans benefits, enrolling in Medicare may provide you with additional service and location options. If you don’t keep Part B, you may have to wait to sign up later, and you may pay a late enrollment penalty.

For information on signing up for Part B under certain special conditions, go to www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/get-parts-a-and-b/part-b-special-conditions/part-b-special-conditions.html.

DAVID SAYEN, Medicare’s Regional Administrator for Hawaii and the Pacific Territories