SUP Perspective – Honoring and Conserving our Ocean

I recently had the good fortune to visit Honolua Bay on Maui. It was quite a different experience from the last time I was there for the Billabong Women’s Surf competition. In early May, the waves were small and the view from Lipoa Point stretched forever. Snorkelers were bobbing over the reefs toward shore, reefs that have enough threats from water temperature changes and need knowledge and protection for their future health.

One surfer had begun a paddle out from the smallish was breaking off the point. He was easily a mile or more offshore. From our vantage point high above the sea we could see a line where two currents and the out-going tide collided. The teeny silhouette of the paddler prone on his board approached the line. Suddenly we saw a consistent movement of splashing. It looked like some huge fish feeding – or a school. Then it got closer and we saw that it was a pod of spinner dolphin. They were leaping, spinning and playing right at the current line.

As the paddler approached he slipped off his board and into the water. the dolphin continued playing, surrounding him while keeping a safe distance. This went on for about 20 minutes, then they began heading further out to sea and around Lipoa Point – with the spinning and jumping show still going full on! The entire experience was breath-taking. The gift of having this area on West Maui is no small thing.

Like most other spectacular places on earth, developers have taken full advantage of deep pockets and real estate for sale. Singer and song writer, Bill Keale tells the story of this in his beautiful way in “Waimanalo Blues” – take a listen.

Lipoa Point is no different. Luckily for the area, there is a strong group of people dedicated to saving Honolua Bay and its unique environment and sea life. I saw a May 30 post on the KIALOA Facebook page that made me very happy. Not the topic (Honolua Bay threatened by development), but the message (youth working with community to make a difference). Please take a look at this video by Joseph Graves.

The “Save Honolua Coalition” has gotten developers’ plans for a golf course and luxury homes retracted for now, but the land is still owned by the developers. The hope is to revitalize the bay and to acquire the land as part of a land trust – using traditional Hawaiian beliefs and practices. The group is very wise in preparing not just to acquire the land but to establish a management plan. Not only is Honlua bay home to many marine species, even a rare breed of sea turtle, but the reefs are fragile cornerstones to all life in the area.

The reefs impact the unique waves for surfers and snorkeling areas – all important to the tourism industry on the island.  Honolua Bay is a state marine life conservation district, but that alone is not enough to save the area.

Please watch the beautifully created video that Joseph created for a school project and please share your ideas or experience in this type of conservation effort – together we can help each other.

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