For years we had been passing The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (wow, that's a mouthful!) on South Kihei Road, and until today I had never stopped to see what it was all about. Shame on me!!! Robyn Walters, who happens to be a neighbor or ours, was today's presenter for the talk. She welcomed us in Hawaiian, and then asked if we minded if she spoke English for the rest of the presentation. Nobody objected.
Trilogy's Blue Aina Reef Clean Up cruise in early February, I had already met volunteers, Jeep and Flo, who were on board to collect water samples for the water quality control, as well as to do counts of the various fish on that particualar reef.
|Baleen in the foreground and mother and baby whale models behind|
It never fails to astonish me that the humpback whales are in a state of starvation during the winter months they spend in Hawaii. No wonder they have so much blubber. We also learned that females are larger than the males because not only do they carry a calf that weighs 1 ton at birth, but they produce over 80 gallons of milk per day. That is quite a lot of weight to be carrying around! Also when they are nursing they lose a lot of their body fat so it is necessary for them to be very heavy to begin with.
During the talk, Robyn threw out many whale related words such as Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), Nares (nostrils), Balaenopteridae (our whales), tubercles (little fist sized bumps on the whale's flippers), caudel peduncle (the part of the whale's body to which the caudel or tail fin is attached) and more. I guess we all went home a little smarter! There were some amazing photos of tails, spyhops, breaches and fin slaps, mostly taken by volunteers, and at the end there was a video showing a whale that was tangled up in fishing line, being rescued. Robyn has a wonderful sense of humor and a great way of presenting. You can tell she loves sharing information and educating people about the humpback whales. As a former teacher, I think I am qualified to give her top marks!! If it is your first time in Maui you may want to attend a 45 ton talk and learn about these amazing mammals before going on a whale watch.
There are many ways a volunteer can help including, going into the schools and educating children about whales, giving talks as Robyn did today, speaking in the education centre, doing water quality testing, counting fish, whales and other marine life and more. Read about 10 things we can all do to help protect our ocean resources. The organization also does outreach programs at various hotels and other locations such as the Maui Ocean Centre.
After the talk I looked around the Education Centre, where there are many displays and also lectures and workshops at various times.
|There were many interesting displays to look at|
|A display about the Sea Turtles found on Maui|
If you go to the west side over in Kaanapali, there are also talks at the Whaler's Village every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, twice a day at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
For more information about this amazing organization visit the website of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. There is a calendar of events there and lots of great information.