Archive for Hawaii
The first month of filming on ‘Plastic Shores‘, March 2011, was spent in the USA (California, Washington, Missouri, and Hawaii). That particular March was a great month to be in the states researching the problems of marine debris with the San Francisco Green Film Festival, the Ocean Shores Beachcombers’ Fair, and the 5th International Marine Debris Conference all happening. The latter took place in Honolulu Hawaii towards the end of March. It brought together politicians, environmentalists, industry experts, and scientists to discuss what to do about the growing problem of synthetic waste in the world’s oceans. While there we met a host of interesting people, most of whom ended up in our film, including Camden Howitt and Sam Judd from Sustainable Coastlines (above) and Hayden Smith (below) from Waitemata Harbour Cleanup Trust (now the Watercare Harbour Cleanup Trust), all from New Zealand.
We interviewed Sam, Camden, and Hayden on the Honolulu waterfront and they told us the great things they were doing back home in New Zealand raising awareness for the problems of marine plastic pollution. They were bringing the cleanup effort to Hawaii however and took LMV on an impromptu cleanup of Honolulu harbour, a surprisingly dirty body of water, which, if local stories are true, has been known to cause the death of people who have open wounds when swimming there. By the look of the marine debris in the water (below), this is not surprising. The guys found syringes, poison bottles (far below), and every form of plastic you can imagine (bottles, bags, coat-hangers, straws, nurdles, etc.).
You could tell the three were passionate about what they were doing. To come half way around the world and clean litter showed true dedication and we can’t thank them enough for the time they gave us for the interviews and the cleanup (and the beers afterwards). We are only sorry we missed the larger cleanup they helped organise the day after the 5IMDC as we were filming on Big Island with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund.
The problem of marine debris first entered the public consciousness in the USA, when Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation sailed across the North Pacific Garbage Patch in the 1990s. Since then, most research on the phenomena of garbage patches have taken place in the North Pacific (although organisations such as 5 Gyres, to be written about next, are researching other gyres in the world). Right in the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it is known, sits Hawaii, the southernmost and westernmost state of the US. It was here that the 5th International Marine Debris Conference took place, where LMV filmed in March 2011.
After the conference, LMV flew to the largest Hawaiian island, Big Island, to film what is commonly thought of as one of the world’s worst shorelines for plastic pollution, Kamilo Beach. We had met the Hawaii Wildlife Fund‘s Megan Lamson at the 5IMDC and she kindly organised for us to go to Kamilo with herself and another HWF member Stacey Breining. Kamilo is a stretch of coastline on the southeast corner of Big Island and its beaches receive a lot of plastic debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Prior to our trip down there, we interviewed Noni Sanford (pictured above), a beach cleanup volunteer who was among the first to start picking up the debris from the beach in the mid 80s. She said she was shocked about the amount of trash there was compared to the pristine coasts of when she first went down there in the 1950s. ‘It was 8-10ft deep in spots. We’d bring home some stuff but there was such a small amount of stuff we could pick up, it was really kind of defeating.’
When LMV went down to Kamilo with Megan and Stacey, thankfully, it wasn’t as bad, but that is solely down to the hard work of people like Noni and the HWF. What was shocking was the amount of micro-plastics in the sand. Megan explained that the average size of the plastic on the beach was decreasing over time, mostly due to frequent beach cleanups. But the smaller the pieces the harder they are to pick up. The HWF had devised a sieve-like flotation device that filtered the micro-plastics out of the sand. It was a long process though and it showed the dedication of the HWF team in protecting their shores. The problem was what to do with the plastic they took away with them. ‘We take the derelict fishing nets to the Waimea Transfer Station…until we have enough to fill up a 40ft maxi-container. They then ship it to Oahu, to H-Power plant where they burn it for electricity.’ Explained Stacey. ‘And then all the other trash goes to landfill. Unfortunately there isn’t any other option for us.’
The scale of the plastic pollution at Kamilo was vast and thanks to Megan and Stacey from the HWF we managed to collect some fascinating footage of just how extensive the problem of marine debris is in Hawaii. It is a pivotal sequence in Plastic Shores and the film would be lacking without it. We wish them every success in the future.
While filming out in Hawai’i, LMV had the good fortune to bump into another production team from PlasticOceans. John McIntyre, the director for PlasticOceans in Hawai’i, later loaned LMV some of his fantastic underwater footage, a quick glimpse of which can be seen in the trailer for LMV’s film ‘Plastic Shores‘ (the lionfish next to the plastic bottle). PlasticOceans are currently working on their own film relating to marine debris (also called ‘Plastic Oceans’) to be released in 2013 and here is the promotional trailer.
www.latimes.com 4th August 2011
Oregon has joined Hawai’i and Washington to become the third state to pass legislation against the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed bill HB 2838 on Thursday (4th August) making California the last of the mainland Pacific coast states not to have similar legislation (it is currently being held up in the state Senate). President Obama has also made steps to tighten up a ban on shark finning in the US by signing federal legislation earlier this year. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Chinese communities and is viewed as a status symbol served particularly for weddings and banquets. Defenders of the practice claim it is a cultural tradition and banning it is tantamount to an “attack on Asian culture.” Many sharks have their fins removed while still alive and are then thrown back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Marine experts claim shark finning has led to the global decline in shark populations (around 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins and meat).
Below are a series of photographs published in the L.A. Times on the devastation wrought by the tsunami in Japan this past March. Triggered from an earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter Scale, the world watched horrified as helicopter reporters filmed a series of tidal waves batter the Japanese North Eastern coastline. LMV was filming in Long Beach, California, at the time and even there warnings were sounded to stay away from the water. When we arrived in Hawaii a few days afterwards, there were fears of radiation clouds from the damaged Japanese reactors and tidal surges from the earthquake had left hotels damaged and large pieces of marine debris on the coastline. Below are a small selection of the 53 harrowing pictures to be found on the L.A. Times website.
The link above is a short clip of BBC presenter Simon Reeve visiting Kamilo Beach in Hawaii. LMV was out there at the end of March and it is a truly sad spectacle. From a distance the beach looks quite colourful. That is until you look more closely. The sand is full of bits of blue, orange, pink and black plastic. On top of that lies a solid mass of twisted plastic products from bottles to baby chairs, baskets to buoys. The Hawaii Wildlife Fund organises regular cleanups of the area but the plastic tide keeps bringing more ashore. Unfortunately, most of this does not come from Hawaii but from the western USA and eastern Asia. We even found a black plastic box with the logo CCCP on the side. This is the old Russian acronym for the Soviet Union, which disbanded in 1991 meaning the box had been floating in the Pacific Gyre for at least 20 years.
Now that the team has made it back to the UK (and overcome the jet-lag), here is a selection of photos from our trip. There will be more as we develop our film ad take stills from the footage. We have been away for a month filming for our documentary on the effects of plastics on the marine environment and human health. Our trip started in California then made its way up to Washington state before flying to Missouri and finally Hawaii. Thanks to everyone who followed our progress.
The 5IMDC has now finished and the LMV team has flown to Big Island, the largest and most volcanically active of the Hawaiian island chain. It is here, on the South East corner of the island, that we are due to film Kamilo, or Junk, Beach with the Hawaiian Wildlife Fund. Yesterday we had an interview with Noni Sanford, an passionate beach comber and good friend of Dr Curtis Ebbesmeyer who interviewed back in Ocean Shores, Washington. Noni has been involved in the cleanup effort of the Big Island coastline long before the problem of plastics in the oceans entered the public consciousness. When she first visited Kamilo Point in her childhood, the beaches were stacked with piles of driftwood. Upon her return in the 1980s, the wood had been largely replaced with plastic, in some places stacked 2-3 metres deep. Through her hard work and the help of numerous volunteers, the beaches are now in better shape although the tide is forever bringing more plastic ashore. The picture above is of a baby turtle they found swimming amongst the debris. It was rescued and released in cleaner waters but whether it survived after this is not known.
Filming for LMV’s documentary on the effects of plastics on the marine environment and human health begins in March with the LMV team flying to the USA. As well as numerous interviews (e.g.: Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Professor Frederick vom Saal, Captain Charles Moore), the team will be attending the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, hosted by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The conference aims to establish the Honolulu Commitment, an agreement on how to tackle the problems of human waste in the world’s oceans. While in the Pacific, the crew will also document that state of Hawaii’s beaches (and the scale of plastic pollution found on them) as well as the effects of the Great Pacific Garbage Dump on the islands’ wildlife (see here and below for camera footage of a very sad phenomenon affecting local bird populations by Chris Jordan).