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Sunday, May 15, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Sunday, May 15, 2022

Plenty people remained at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach this weekend after the county lifeguard shifts
ended at 4:30 p.m. An after hours turtle monitoring group has formed, which also advocates for
longer lifeguard hours. Photo by Julia Neal

A NEW PUNALU'U TURTLE & BEACH MONITORING GROUP at Black Sand Beach has drawn volunteers daily to the shoreline to watch over turtles and advise beachgoers to stay away from them. Punalu'u mauka resident Guy Enriques, whose family has run lei stands at the beach for generations and also served as volunteer lifeguards over the years, helped to organize the group.
Guy Enriques years ago with baby hawksbill  turtles scurrying
 to the ocean as onlookers lined the path to the shore.
  Photo by Julia Neal
    Enriques said the volunteers monitor daily from 4:30 p.m., after county lifeguards leave work, and stay until dark. He also said he is advocating to extend lifeguard hours, since the beach usually has many people there, some of them in the water at the end of the county lifeguard shift. 
    Enriques has assisted swimmers in trouble in recent weeks, including a teenage visitor with a boogie board who was being carried out to sea by a current.
    He noted that in addition to the green sea turtles resting on the beach, hawksbill turtle nesting season is coming up and that volunteers will watch for female hawksbills seeking to dig nests in the sand. The effort would augment the Turtle Watch program.
    Malama Pono Punalu'u turtle and beach monitoring group originated with residents in the neighborhood just mauka of Hwy 11 above the beach. Enriques said they conducted a pilot program for the last three weeks and decided to make it a daily scheduled routine. He said to start, some folks plan to volunteer multiple times a week. The goal is for enough people to volunteer so that shifts will be once a month. He said the group will hold an orientation program for new volunteers.
Punalu'u residents Chris and Kathleen Mummie
 take a shift with the Malama Pono Punalu'u group
Photo from Malama Pono Punalu'u
  Enriques said volunteers are also interested in tracking the number of visitors to the beach, to better educate the public with signage and handouts, and to help with water safety after hours, by watching for swimmers who might need help and calling in for help when needed.
     "What we are looking for," said Enriques, "are people who have the time, are interested in the turtles and want to help the community." Those who want to volunteer can call Enriques at 808-217-2253 or email enriques@hawaii.rr.com.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at. www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.html

TO PROTECT CORAL REEFS BY PROHIBITING SALE AND DISTRIBUTION OF SUNSCREEN containing such chemicals as oxybenzone, the County Council will consider a bill on May 17. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund favors the legislation. Its president Megan Lamson and Executive Director Hannah Bernard wrote to members of the council Committee on Climate Resilience & Natural Resource Management. The letter notes the the bill would ban "sale or distribution of non-mineral sunscreen, unless prescribed by a 
licensed healthcare provider." It would take effect Dec 1.
    State of Hawai'i already became the first place in the world to ban such sunscreens but the law is not enforced. CVS and some other retailers have taken the sunscreen with damaging chemicals off their shelves. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund is vying for more legislation, this time at the county level to further encourage reduction of sunscreen going into the ocean.
    "We are in full support of this initiative that would effectively reduce the amount of chemical stressors on our coral reefs!" declares Hawai'i Wildlife Fund. "Research has already shown that certain chemicals 

A bill before the County Council would ban non-mineral sunscreens, which contain chemicals
that bleach and damage coral reefs. Photo from state Department of Land & Natural Resources
in sunscreen, including oxybenzone, have been detrimental to the health of coral larvae. In this time when our oceans are already negatively impacted from the threats of rising temperatures (causing bleaching), overfishing, eutrophication (excessive nutrient inputs), marine debris, and the spread of invasive species, it is critical for us to takes steps towards protecting coral reef ecosystems.
    "Coral reef ecosystems are intimately connected to the health and welfare of our island communities. Our reefs not only support life in Hawai‘i but equate to $360 million directly to the state's economy each year (directly and indirectly).
    "In light of the devastating declines in coral cover across West Hawai‘i in 2015, now more than ever, we need to commit to conservation efforts such as this one and pass Bill 167 into law. Put simply, there are better (more eco-friendly) ways to protect residents and visitors from UV rays that do not put the health of our reefs at risk."
    Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund has been working to conserve native species in Hawai‘i since 1996, and is well known for beach cleanups and anchialine pond work in Kaʻū, as well as educational outreach in the schools. The letter notes that the organization is "involved in research, education, restoration and advocacy projects related to the protection of coastal and nearshore ecosystems around the Pae ‘Āina. Mahalo for voting to pass this bill. Me ke aloha pumehana."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at. www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.html

Debra Cabral-Galapir, of Pāhala, inside Pōwehi on
 Astro Day held Saturday at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.
 Photo by Tim Wright AFT
ASTRODAY took flight on Saturday with educational displays on astronomy at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo. The event drew folks from Kaʻū, including Debra Cabral-Galapir, of Pāhala, who found herself in a display about the first-ever photographed black hole, Pōwehi. 
    It was given the name Pōwehi by Larry Kimura, a Hawaiian professor at University of Hawaii-Hilo. The name Pōwehi comes from the Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo and means “embellished dark source of unending creation.” Pō means profound dark source of unending creation. Wehi, means honored with embellishments.
    AstroDay is sponsored by University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy and Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee. The annual event was dark for two years due to covid.  AstroDay is celebrated on the same day as the international Astronomy Day.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at. www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.html

See The Ka'ū Calendar May edition at
www.kaucalendar.com, on newsstands and in the mail.\