I just returned from holiday in Hawaii, where I spent a week on the island of Maui. My visit reminded me how too many of us take our beautiful Earth for granted.
Maui holds a special place in my heart. My mom and her seven sisters were born and raised there, so I’ve been visiting the islands since I was 5-years-old. We went last week for holiday, but also to return the remains of my aunt–the first of the eight sisters to pass away.
I went to the same lovely bay (Kapalua Bay, aka “old Flemings”) I’ve been snorkeling in since I was young. Kapalua Bay used to be a pristine bay bordered by a relatively small but gorgeous beach with rocks to climb over on either side and a small cave on the right to shelter in during sudden downpours. You really didn’t know it was there unless you were a local or related to one. No parking lot existed–just a strip of red earth next to a chain link fence overgrown with vines. Trees, palms and thick, lush tropical vegetation grew along the entire edge of the beach, overhanging it in many places. The crystal clear water resembled the most incredible natural aquarium showcasing dozens of different species of tropical fish, moray eels, octopus and turtles, as well as sea urchins, sea slugs and other less easily identified sea creatures. I particularly love this little bay because there is a reef running along the entire mouth of the bay so one never needs to fear spotting a shark.
I have witnessed many changes to my favorite bay over the past four decades… A parking lot and signs now make it easy to find, and if you don’t arrive before 9:00am, you will have to scavenge for a parking spot along the road higher up. Most of the vegetation has been removed and luxury villas now step down the slope with the grassy border of their grounds touching the sand in several places. The rocks as you enter the water are now covered with a slimy brown seaweed, and many of the spectacular coral formations are whitening (dying due to ocean acidification).
While this may sound very depressing and worrying, I must also add how beautiful the bay still is and how resilient nature attempts to be. There are still at least two dozen species of tropical fish, I encountered a huge zebra moray and a baby snowflake moray, the water remains clear and the sea turtles (previously threatened) are now thriving.
Here are some of my photos*–many of which aren’t “pristine,” showing evidence of our role and impact on the earth, but also showing the incredible beauty and strength that continues.
Please take two minutes to think about a favorite place in nature you’ve visited, and think about how you might honor it–literally or just in your heart. Then please take two more minutes to think about just ONE (more) thing you can do to help protect our beautiful Earth. I’ve shared previously with you many of the things I do to lessen my negative impact on this planet, such as eating organic and local, not buying and/or using chemical products in my home, on my body, etc., making every effort to never take a plastic bag and to almost never take any sort of bag when out shopping, driving an electric car, etc. And some of you know of my work to make a positive impact on this planet (speeding the transition from fossil fuels to renewables with Empowered by Light).
I’m conducting a waste audit at my kids’ school today as part of recognizing Earth Day, but I know I can be doing a lot more. In fact, no matter how much you’re already doing, chances are, you can easily do just one more thing.
Happy Earth Day!
* I took video of my swim underwater with a large sea turtle, but I’m not very tech savvy and can’t figure out how to share it or create a still from it!