KAPAA — Finley Geis and Liliana Balder both saw eels while snorkeling on with the ReefGuardians summer youth program on Thursday at Fuji Beach.
“I liked the way they moved in the water,” said 10-year-old Geis.
And while they were learning about ocean life for the week-long educational camp with ReefGuardians Hawaii, the kids also discovered things that can make life difficult in the sea.
“Plastic looks like food to animals, so they eat it sometimes,” Geis said, “and there is rope in the ocean that can wrap around a whole whale.”
Balder pointed out that marine animals’ stomachs might not be the ending point in the plastic food chain.
“The fish eat it and then we eat the fish,” Balder said.
The two were among about 20 keiki, ages 9-11, who studied the undersea environment firsthand on World Oceans Day after they’d spent a few days in the classroom.
Organizer Robin Mazor said watching the kids connect the dots between actions on land and in the ocean has been rewarding.
“ReefGuardians is about bringing people together who care, and it’s about training our next generations about how to be ReefGuardians,” Mazor said.
Seneca Lathrop said learning about the ecosystem of the coral reefs could impact the world longer than that.
“You have to learn about the ocean so it’s not destroyed by you and your kids and their kids and their kids,” the 11-year-old said.
Kauai’s people came out to support their ocean ecosystem all over the island on Thursday. In Koloa, more than 30 volunteers cleaned the beach in front of the Sheraton Kauai Resort.
“I’ve been trying to get out here for a while, but I work a lot,” said Silas Birch, who drove from Kapaa to lend a hand. “My buddy told me about it and I’m glad I was able to come out.”
Kaira Kupihea, who works for Sheraton, brought her young daughter Ayva so she could splash around in the surf and help find debris.
“This is important so my daughter can enjoy the beach, like I do,” she said. “Plus, we love to eat fish, and we love eat healthy fish.”
World Oceans Day is held annually. This year’s theme is “Our oceans, our future.”