By Roger Mari
OAHU (KHNL) -- All over the world, people are celebrating World Ocean Day. Here in Hawaii, the Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii, organized a beach clean-up.
In this Earth and Sea report, they were out to get more than just trash at Maunalua Bay.
Invasive algae at Maunalua Bay outgrow native algae species. It covers sea grass beds which is food for green sea turtles. Kaneohe Bay and Maunalua Bay are hot-spots for invasive algae. It was introduced to Hawaii in the 70's through a failed science experiment.
"It can take over a habitat so that it's not functional anymore," said Manuel Meija of The Nature Conservancy.
Today's volunteers were looking for three types of algae. The Leather Mudweed, which can cause habitat loss for native limu. Prickly Weed fills in the small holes on coral reefs where smaller fish hide from predators. And the Gorilla Ogo.
"Just forms these clumps and mats and they can just choke out an entire reef, again displacing a lot of fish habitat," said Meija.
Volunteers worked for about two hours covering a 1/2 mile stretch of beach. They say the work was hard but well worth it.
"The only hard thing is like when you get a full bucket, it's just kind of heavy," said Volunteer Daz Rocha.
"We're probably going to go into the ocean afterwards and enjoy it. It will make you enjoy the ocean that much more I think," said Volunteer Bianca Acosta.
Education and spreading awareness are key in controlling this invasive algae issue. Its beach cleanups like today's that are vital to protecting Hawaii's native algae species.
"Collectively what people are doing throughout the year, it's going to make a big difference," said Manuel Meija.
It's a big difference being made by a small group in commemoration of World Ocean Day.
By the end of the clean-up the volunteers were able to haul in 60 bags full of invasive marine algae weighing more than 11-hundred pounds.
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