Marine Science Chapters


Hawaii: Future of Hawaii

Pristine Hawaii
Hawaii's shorelines are mostly pristine.
Hawaii has put a lot of effort into taking steps to keep its pristine environment intact for its future generations. There is a large program aimed at cleaning up the environment including a big marine debris removal program to keep the shorelines free of plastic, trash, and old fishing nets.

Hawaiian shoreline littered with plastic

Hagfish trap from Pacific Ocean hagfish fishery
Remote beach on southern Hawaii littered with plastics (top). Plastic hagfish trap (probably from somewhere in Asia) is a common part of this plastic beach trash (right).
Hawaii is a landing place for ocean plastics in the North Pacific. Hawaiian shorelines in remote places may become littered with trash, especially plastics. These plastics have floated across the Pacific Ocean and ended up on Hawaiian beaches. Beaches that are regularly visited are cleaned by the locals but remote beaches may become full of Pacific Ocean plastic trash in short periods of time if the currents are just right.

Abandoned fishing net
Abandoned fishing net on one of Hawaii's remote beaches.
Old nets are hazards for the animals in the area (they get caught in them) as well as unsightly. NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has a program to visit remote areas in Hawaii including many of the northern seamounts to remove the netting. This is especially harmful to marine mammals when they get caught in it under the water because they are air breathers and if caught they drown.

Hawaii's National Energy Lab
Hawaii's Natural Energy Lab (NELHA).
Pipe demonstration for deep water pumping at NELHA Maricultured ogo (seaweed) at NELHA
NELHA is a site for demonstrations of its research, including a piece of its deep pipeline (left) and its mariculture ogo (seaweed) (right).
Maricultured abalone from NELHA Maricultured fish from NELHA
Abalone need cool water and are maricultured at NELHA (left). Fish mariculture also takes place at NELHA (right).
There is a Natural Energy Lab on the big island near Kailua-Kona where research is being conducted to use various energy alternatives and mariculture. Forty-eight inch diameter pipelines bring deep, cold, nurtrient-rich water from 2,000 feet below sea level at the rate of over 13,000 gallons per minute. The cold water is used for cooling and mariculture. This 43 degree Fahrenheit water is over 20 degrees cooler than the surface and is used for ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) feasibility studies. This is an alternative energy possibility and Hawaii's warm surface waters and cold, deep subsurface waters are a great place for testing.

Wind machines near South Point, Hawaii
Wind machines near South Point, Hawaii.
Energy from wind is another alternative energy source being used in Hawaii. The southern end of the big island of Hawaii gets a lot of wind from the Trades and has many acres of wind machines. In 2006 a third wind farm came online on the big island of Hawaii. These three wind farms now produce about 22 percent of the electricity for this island. Other islands, like Maui, are also starting to harness wind energy from machines, like these, placed on the mountainsides. This energy can be used to generate electricity for the growing populations on the Hawaiian islands.

Beautiful Hawaiian leaves
Beautiful Hawaiian leaves.
Ecotourism is becoming more popular in all areas of Hawaii and along with this goes education for the general public about the importance of balanced ecosystems and how they work. The companies that offer ecotourism are advocates for preserving the natural environment. Many tourists now enjoy hikes to the rainforests of Hawaii lead by naturalists, tourbus drivers who tell about the natural plants and animals, and scuba diving trips that center on viewing the sea creatures instead of killing them.

Beautiful Hawaii
Hawaii is beautiful from so many angles.
Hawaii has much to offer the world as a natural island laboratory being so far from any major land mass. It will always be a tourist destination for its beauty and it remains one of the most diverse places to study biological oceanography. Oceanographers will continue to find Hawaii one of the few areas in the world to study an active and visible 'hot spot.' They will also find its coral reefs, tropical marine creatures and large pelagic vertebrates of interest. In June 2006 the world's largest marine conservation area was set aside around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It covers over 140,000 square miles.


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(Revised 3 January 2008)
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