Students helping to preserve Maunalua Bay - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Students helping to preserve Maunalua Bay

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Matthew Limtiaco Matthew Limtiaco
Alyssa Miller Alyssa Miller
Alisha Tokumaru Alisha Tokumaru
Jake Morisato Jake Morisato

By Paul Drewes bio | email

HAWAII KAI (KHNL) - They say seeing is believing. And after seeing how bad of shape an east Oahu bay is in, elementary students decide to do something about it. And they hope to encourage others to help.

Maunalua Bay is not only a recreation area for boaters and surfers, it is also a living classroom for hundreds of island elementary students, who have been cleaning up the bay while studying this fragile ecosystem.

"Each school has been involved in all the aspects of the bay but each school has also been tasked with one issue in particular," said Matthew Limtiaco, with the group Navigating Change.

The bay may looks beautiful, but that beauty is only on the surface. The problems can be found throughout the inviting blue waters.

"After 50 years of urbanization this bay is badly degraded. There is pollution, we have invasive species, and our fisheries are badly degraded," said Alyssa Miller, with Malama Maunalua.

As stewards of Maunalua bay, students from Kamilo Iki Elementary spent an afternoon at the beach each week throughout the school year, pulling out invasive seaweed.

They collected 3000 pounds of unwanted plants and a better knowledge of this important body of water.

"Right now the bay right here is basically dead, there is no coral living in Maunalua Bay," said Kamilo Iki 5th Grader, Alisha Tokumaru.

Corals provide homes to fish populations and are a basic building block for ocean life.

After spending months learning about the problems with Maunalua Bay, students share their knowledge about this vital ecosystem.

"The bay supports the fish and all the other animals that live in it," said Jake Morisato, a 4th Grader at Hahaione Elementary.

The students also hope that others will be inspired to protect this important resource as well.

"Everyone can make a difference and these groups are already making a difference. The future of Maunalua Bay can be very bright if everyone gets involved," added Miller.

While the student's after-school efforts are winding down, along with the school year, efforts to protect and preserve Maunalua Bay continue through various city, state, federal, and private organizations.