Leaving New London and Wyland’s Wall, our little Morgan headed to the 50th and most recent state to join the United States of America: Hawaii! Surrounded by the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the state encompasses the volcanic Hawaiian Archipelago, hundreds of islands spread over 1500 miles. Morgan travelled to the third largest of the islands, Oahu, with WCA partner Patti Sullivan from CSI.
Together they circled the island, exploring its volcanic landscape, the lush green slopes that meet golden beaches and turquoise blue waters. From Honolulu they headed to the southern shore where they gazed upon Diamond Head crater, an inactive volcano and the Hawaiian ‘money shot’. From there they headed to the fabled north shore where surfers ride huge glassy winter waves.
|Enjoying the stunning scenery of Oahu|
And the best bit for Morgan? Finding the information boards about The Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and even seeing the wispy blows of Humpback Whales just offshore! These whales have just returned to the warm tropical waters around the islands from Alaska where they have spent the northern summer gorging on the abundance of food found in those cool waters. In Hawaii they will mate, give birth, and not feed until they have returned north next spring.
|Learning about the sanctuary, and watching whales!|
The sanctuary is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Hawaii. Through research, education, outreach, regulations and guidelines the sanctuary aims to protect the Humpback Whales, their habitat and the cultural heritage of the islands.
As they read Morgan and Patti leaned about the issues that whales face even within the comparative safety of the sanctuary, from water quality to marine debris to acoustic disturbance. For Morgan the one that caught her attention the most was entanglement. In many cases Humpback Whales will drag nets, lines, pots and gear all the way from Alaska! It is an incredible, arduous journey at the best of times, let alone dragging a load of fishing gear all that way. It was only in February this year that a whale was rescued from fishing gear in the waters around Hawaii. That was possible through the Hawaiian Islands Disentanglement Network, a community based network formed in 2002 to free Humpback Whales and other marine animals from entanglement. It is wonderful to know there are dedicated people willing to protect Humpback Whales and their habitat, and work to free them where possible when they become entangled.
Read more about the work of the sanctuary and the Disentanglement Network at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/welcome.html. and find more photos of Morgan's adventure to Hawaii at Morgan's Facebook page
For Morgan there was one last chance to enjoy the lemon yellow sunset that is so hard to find anywhere else, before heading off on her next adventure...