Marine Biology Update

The first five days of our class have been action packed and very rewarding, so I thought I’d share some of the activities we’ve done.

Day 2 activities included tidepooling near our condos and a trip to Iao Valley. Tidepooling rewarded us with rock boring urchins, several types of crabs, harlequin shrimp, bright flatworms, and an octopus that inked all over us.

Iao Valley was home to the King of Maui and when King Kamehama from the big island came to try and take over Maui there was a huge battle in the valley. There are a variety of plant life, as the valley and surrounding hills are the second rainiest place on earth.

Day three found us doing a service project removing invasive plants from the Honokowai valley on the northwest side of the island. There are ruins of old Hawaiian villages in the valley from 800 years ago. The students pulled invasive for a while and then learned more about the ahupua’a system where people are responsible for a pie slice of land reaching from the mountains all the way to the sea. Everything is interconnected and thus everyone is responsible to everyone else. Late afternoon found us at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge learning about wetlands, endangered birds, and plants.

Day four was epic! We started off the morning with our first snorkel of the trip at Ulua Beach. The visibility wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to see lots of pencil urchins, triggerfish, and yellow tangs.

The afternoon found us headed in the opposite direction – up! We drove up to the top of Haleakala. On the way we stopped for a hike at Hosmer Grove to explore the differences between alien and native forests. We headed to the upper visitor center for a clear view of the crater and to talk more about how the Hawaiian Islands formed. Then we found a parking place at the summit, ate our bag dinners, and stayed to watch the sunset. I think it’s safe to say that it was the most majestic, awe-inspiring, and breath-taking sunset I’ve ever experienced.

Day five started off with a tour and talk with Pacific Biodiesel at their sunflower fields. They take used frying oil from all over the islands and distill it into biodiesel. They have started to expand their business model and are growing sunflowers to use in making biodiesel. A couple fun facts – 1 acre of sunflowers can make 100 gallons of biodiesel, 1 gallon of used oil can be made into 0.95 gallons of biodiesel, and all of the garbage and recycling trucks on Maui run on biodiesel. It was super interesting!

The afternoon was spent on the Alii Nui sailing to Olowalu Bay to go snorkeling. Not only was the boat ride amazing, but the snorkeling was fantastic! So much fish diversity and there were turtles as well. This site also had some large Parrotfish and wrasse cleaning stations where large fish can get their parasites eaten by smaller fish. It’s like a fish car wash!

Here’s to the next five days being equally exciting!

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2 thoughts on “Marine Biology Update

  1. Randy, we are loving your narrative regarding the class trip. It is all such a fabulous experience . Your students will remember this all their life. We feel so lucky to be a part of your audience. Jane & Milburn

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