I recently went on a trip with Global Leadership Adventures to help the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute with turtle conservation. I was in Maui, Hawaii for 11 days where our group of 30 helped with turtle habitat rebuilding, trash clean-ups, and learned about the fragility of the ocean ecosystem. The whole experience was a ton of fun and taught me a lot about spreading awareness and being a leader in my own community. Not only did we partake in conservation but we learned about many aspects of Hawaiian culture which gave me a different perspective on a lot of problems going on in Hawaii. The main one of which was the endangerment of green sea turtles. The main threat to these creatures is fishing and how line and nets are very susceptible to being wrapped around the turtles. They are also very slow moving and are a target of tourists who are not very keen on listening to the 10 foot gap that the NOAA suggests. Our goal while there was to learn how to respect these animals and help build more environments for algae to grow and to create possible cleaning stations where turtles that are in distress are often found by scientists. The main controversy with turtles is that native Hawaiians have a tradition of hunting
the turtles for their meat as well as shell which they use to create tools. Due to the Endangered Species Act put on them they aren’t allowed to hunt them even for traditional and religious purposes. They argue that it isn’t their fault that the turtles are dying off (which it isn’t) so they should be allowed to practice their religion and fishing should be disallowed instead. This battle has been going on for over 40 years and still hasn’t been settled. Our job there was to do both sides a favor and scour the beaches and ocean for fishing gear and trash in
general that could affect the ecosystem. We also helped create artificial starters to reefs that are used for reef rebuilding and a defense against coral bleaching as well as offering a habitat to fish and turtles. Overall the trip was really successful in teaching me that the oceans need our help and that there is a lot that we can do no matter how small it seems. I recommend watching the documentary “Chasing Corals” on Netflix to get inspired and check out the link below if you want to learn more about GLA.