As we all push through the Covid-19 pandemic, there's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to better understand how the marine life in Maui's Honolua Bay is responding to the lack of pressure from tourism.
We ask you to please support a rapid assessment study that will monitor the larger marine life such as spinner dolphins, manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, and large schools of fish like the akule, found in the Honolua Bay Marine Life Conservation District. The study will be conducted by Mark Deakos, Ph.D., founder and lead scientist at Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER).
Using line transect surveys, this study will conduct a rapid assessment once or twice per day to obtain a “snapshot” of both the marine life in relationship to human activity in the bay. These snapshots will be used to examine how megafauna behavior changes based on the time of day and year, around tidal and lunar cycles, before and after large rain events (brownwater), and most importantly, before and after commercial tourism is in full swing.
If the surveys can be started right now, we have an opportunity to obtain a baseline of megafauna activity in the bay before we reintroduce the daily pressures of human activity.
Please donate today to help support marine biologist Dr. Mark Deakos with the equipment needed to conduct this essential research BEFORE tourism resumes.
Why this study is needed now
What happens when a natural area is loved TOO much? That’s one of the issues at Maui's Honolua Bay, located only 10 miles north of the population centers of Lahaina and Ka’anapali.
Part of a Hawaii Marine Life Conservation District, Honolua Bay is visited every day by an average of 800 people.
They arrive on tour boats and on foot, to snorkel among fish and corals, Hawaiian green sea turtles and occasional manta rays. People also visit with the hopes of encountering wild spinner dolphins, who use the bay during the day to rest and socialize after active nights of fishing for food in deep ocean waters.
Right now Honolua Bay is mostly quiet, due to Covid-19’s impact on tourism. Tour boats are few and far between.
This presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gather baseline data on how wildlife uses this bay while humans and tour boats are largely absent. How many wild dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays are entering Honolua Bay? How much time are they spending in Honolua Bay?
As tourism returns, how does the behavior of the marine life change? This baseline data will be used to quantify the impacts of tourism on Honolua Bay’s marine wildlife. Ultimately, it will help policymakers create the best policies for managing human usage of Honolua Bay.
Noted Maui marine biologist Dr. Mark Deakos will be leading the effort to collect this baseline data by conducting repeated transects across the bay gathering important data on counts and locations on the presence and absence of spinner dolphins, manta rays, large predatory fish, sea turtles, and large schools of akule (bigeye scad). In addition, data on the number of boats, swimmers, surfers, water clarity and brownwater events will also be collected.
The nonprofit Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is working to help the Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER) and Dr. Deakos aquire the necessary equipment to continue this valuable research during this special time, which is unlikely to occur ever again on Maui.
Please help us raise $2,300 to get this project moving forward immediately so we can take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are U.S. tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Learn more at https://www.mauireefs.org/maui-nui-marine-resource-council-helping-raise-funds-survey-honolua-bay/
About Mark H. Deakos, Ph.D.
Known to many on Maui for his groundbreaking research and protection efforts of our local reef manta rays, Dr. Deakos is the founder and chief scientist of the Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research, Inc. (HAMER). This organization works to conduct sound research to better understand the health and status of our marine resources and how better to preserve them.
Dr. Deakos obtained his biology degree from the University of Waterloo in Canada where he began pursuing his interest in wildlife biology. After working with several avian and reptile species, his interests rapidly returned to the ocean and towards marine mammals, which eventually led him to Hawaii in 1996. At the University of Hawaii, he completed his master’s degree studying humpback whale behavior and continued his graduate work by completing his doctoral degree with a focus on manta ray ecology.
Over the past decade in Hawaii, Dr. Deakos has worked alongside top researchers in the world gaining familiarity with over 20 species of marine mammals ranging from elusive beaked whales to fearless false killer whales. Dr. Deakos was the project field coordinator for the University of Hawaii’s Humpback Whale Research Program for seven consecutive years. His experiences have taught him the necessity of understanding our environment in efforts to better protect it from ecological or man-made threats. To learn more, visit http://www.hamerinhawaii.org/