10 June 2022

#AntarcticLog: Hanging loose in Hawaii

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.
Aloha! I’ve arrived in Hawaii, and am writing this on the lanai of my tiny rental cottage in a grove of coffee trees.  The sea is two miles below; we’re just “up mauka” (uphill) of Kahalu’u Beach Park, the newest Mission Blue Hope Spot, set aside for special efforts to maintain its waters, and the coral beneath. What’s threatening them? Sea temperature rise, ocean acidification, pollution from land, and yes, snorkeling. 
What to do? It’s a bit of a Catch-22.  Hawaiians want to welcome snorkeling tourists, because they help the local economy, which allows improvements to things like energy use and sewage treatment.  And the joy snorkelers experience can make them more aware of the value of coral (on which one billion people worldwide depend, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). 
The key then, is awareness — also known as outreach and education. Writing, art, photography, film, television, and the people who make them.  People who design and make rash guards, those shirts that shield swimmers from sun so they don’t have to wear so much sunscreen — which can harm coral. And the local volunteers who monitor the coral, talk to snorkelers, and share their love with with all forms of sea life, from coral polyps to people.  A big shaka to them! 
Next week — I talk to Kahalu’u Bay’s biggest protector. 
Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram.