Maui Ocean Center hosts Sea Dragon Research Expedition Welcome

Due to unexpected and unavoidable circumstances, the Sea Dragon
will not arrive in Maui.
Therefore, all welcoming events planned for
Sunday, July 8 have been cancelled.

Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

June 30, 2012, Ma‘alaea, Maui, HI
– On May 2, 2012, the 72-ft sailing research vessel, Sea Dragon, departed the Marshall Islands on the first leg of a research expedition to study the “Western Pacific Garbage Patch”, and arrived in Tokyo, Japan on May 21.  The vessel left Japan on June 7 on the second leg through the North Pacific Gyre to track and investigate material swept out to sea by the 2011 Tsunami.  Largely dependent on weather and sea conditions, the vessel is scheduled to arrive in Ma‘alaea Harbor, Maui on Sunday, July 8, 2012 where it will be greeted by Maui Ocean Center and various island organizations and cultural stewards at approximately 11:00am.  The vessel will anchor outside of the harbor.

The expedition is made possible through the partnership of Algalita Marine Research Institute (formerly Foundation), 5 Gyres Institute, and Pangaea Exploration.  The goal of the expedition is to collect samples and study the effects of the plastic pollution and marine debris relative to:  a) providing habitat for marine life and its ability to transport invasive species from one continent to another; b) rates of decomposition of debris; c) colonization of marine life on, and into, different materials; d) educating students through the Algalita Ship-2-Shore blog; and e) spatial distribution of debris along the entire voyage transect.  Onboard activities can be followed by visiting blogs from sea at http://www.algalita.org/blog

Upon the arrival of the Sea Dragon in Ma‘alaea, a cultural greet and festivities are planned.  Kimokeo Kapahulehua and the Kihei Canoe Club will be in the water to greet the vessel and escort it to its anchor location outside the harbor.  The canoe club will then transport the crew to shore.  At the shore, Kahu Dane Maxwell, Maui Ocean Center’s Hawaiian Cultural Advisor will provide a traditional Hawaiian greet.  Prior to any recovered tsunami materials leaving the vessel for testing or educational purposes, it will be examined with regard to cultural sensitivity. 

Maui County students from grades K-12 participated in a “Debris From Our Sea” art contest hosted by Algalita Marine Research Foundation and Maui Ocean Center.  The winner was selected by renowned environmental artist Wyland.  Projects are being displayed at Maui Ocean Center through July and the display will include information on marine debris and marine plastics.  As stated by Wyland, “The kids not only get it, they want action.  They want to get involved in issues regarding the conservation of clean water and a healthy ocean…”.  The winning entry can be viewed from a link at www.mauioceancenter.com.

Following the greet on shore, the crew and potential recovered materials will be escorted to Maui Ocean Center where it will take its place in the Maui Ocean Center display window together with the student art contest projects. The welcoming of the Sea Dragon continues at the Aquarium where the festivities are included with paid admission. Algalita and 5 Gyres will provide an opportunity to talk with the Sea Dragon Expedition Research Team. The Maui Ocean Center will host information booths on marine debris and marine plastic. Live entertainment is also included. Free parking is available at Maui Ocean Center.

“This is a rare and moving event, especially for Maui and Ma‘alaea”, stated Kate Zolezzi, General Manager at Maui Ocean Center.  “It has been a privilege to work with Algalita and all the other organizations involved.  Not only in organizing these events, but to also make such great strides in the research and education of marine debris and the worldwide concerns of plastics in our oceans”.  

On the evening of the arrival a panel discussion event is being planned which will include speakers from the Sea Dragon and local industry experts.  Watch for more information on this important event.

For more information on the Sea Dragon or for expedition details visit www.algalita.org.  For more information on the Sea Dragon greet in Ma‘alaea Harbor call (808) 270-7000 or email lorim@mauioceancenter.com. 

Algalita Marine Research Institute
The Algalita Marine Research Institute (formerly Foundation), a nonprofit organization based in Long Beach, California, is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research, education and restoration.  We do this by conducting research and collaborative studies on the distribution, abundance and fate of marine plastic pollution and the potential harmful effects of plastics in the marine environment, including transference of toxins and their impact on human health.  More information:  (562) 598-4889 or www.algalita.org.  

5 Gyres Institute
5 Gyres Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to meaningful change through research, education, and community action.  5 Gyres disseminates its findings through lectures, publications, and traveling exhibits, and raises awareness about plastic marine pollution through sailing expeditions across the world’s oceans, including a 2008 rafting expedition from California to Hawaii on a raft constructed of 15,000 plastic bottles.  For information on upcoming expeditions and exhibitions across oceans:  email info@5Gyres.org

Pangaea Exploration
Pangaea Exploration offers adventure sailing to actively strengthen the health of marine life through exploration, conservation and education work.  Our mission is to inspire and develop a new generation of leaders in conservation science, communication, education, art and policy leadership.  More information: www.panexplore.com.

Maui Ocean Center
Maui Ocean Center displays live coral and Hawaiian marine life in over 60 vibrant exhibits.  Twenty-five percent of the animals found at Maui Ocean Center are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.  In addition to daily marine life presentations given by ocean naturalists, Maui Ocean Center highlights specific marine species with enhanced presentations, special guest talks, hands-on activities, upgradeable behind the scenes tours and more each month.  In July, Maui Ocean Center will host the Coral Spawning Spectacle.  Explore the mysterious world of coral reproduction and get a chance to witness live coral spawning during this highly anticipated summer aquarium event that takes place under the light of a new moon.  More information and program details can be found at www.mauioceancenter.com.

The mission of Maui Ocean Center is to foster understanding, wonder and respect for Hawaii’s marine life. This state-of-the-art aquarium was named “Top-Rated Attraction in Hawaii” by Zagat Survey US Family Travel Guide, “Leader In Responsible Tourism” on the Top 100 Blue List by Islands Magazine, and “Best Land Activity” in 2008, 2009, 2011 by the readers of The Maui News. Open daily from 9 to 5, and from 9 to 6 in July and August. For more information please contact the Maui Ocean Center: 192 Ma‘alaea Road; Ma‘alaea, HI 96793; telephone (808)270-7000, facsimile (808)270-7070, e-mail info@mauioceancenter.com or visit www.mauioceancenter.com.

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