Hawaii - Message in the Waves Natural World


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Hawaii - Message in the Waves

Nature documentary featuring the wildlife of Hawaii's famous surf zone and the surfers and scientists who are fighting to protect it.


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Transcript


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# And after all

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# The world is pretty small

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# And after all

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# Just shouldn't take it on

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# Nah nah nah, nah nah Nah nah nah, nah nah

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# And after all

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# Mother Ocean

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# Rolls along... #

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My ancestors, the first Hawaiians,

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came to these islands many centuries ago.

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Their voyage across 2,500 miles of open ocean

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was an incredible feat of navigation and survival.

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They've got so much water, so much food with them,

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they know that's all they have...

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Hopefully they can catch fish and rainwater along the way, but other than that they are dependent

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on what they have on that canoe and they need to manage it well.

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Eventually they found land,

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an island paradise, teeming with life.

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But they soon found out this new-found wealth was exhaustible.

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To survive on an island, you have to learn to live within your means,

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just like in a canoe.

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A lot of us today, we still look at the island as a canoe. That what we've got, it's what we've got,

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and if we waste it we're done.

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Live like you're on a canoe.

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My name is Iokepa Naeole

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and I'm a kumu a'o - a teacher.

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This is my school on the edge of the ocean.

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Here, I play my small part in shaping the Hawaiians of the future.

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I teach the kids all the usual things, but as much as possible

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I like to get them outside.

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It's called the Hawaii Outdoor Education Programme, and it's our aim

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to help kids learn by connecting with the world around them.

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Observing what's out there, and learning from it, it's nothing new.

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This is the way my ancestors worked out how to survive on these islands.

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For me, that's the foundation of being Hawaiian.

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As a Hawaiian living in a place like this, I wake up in the morning,

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first thing I'm looking for is the sun,

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I'm looking for the wind direction, for the swells, the waves.

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Everything I see is part of my environment, it's part of me.

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But for most Hawaiians, that changed

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with the arrival of the western world.

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We were encouraged to look at our surroundings in a very different way.

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Our culture, rooted in nature, was dismissed as primitive.

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They were taught that being Hawaiian wasn't necessarily

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something to be proud of.

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My grandfather was actually physically punished for speaking Hawaiian in school.

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Being Hawaiian was something that you should put on the side because

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we're living in the western society now, we are in a society

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where you need to learn how to speak proper English, you need to be able

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to go out and make money, buy a home, two-car garage, two cars,

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those are the important things.

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So all of the things Hawaiian, even speaking our own language,

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that was all just cast aside.

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Today, our culture is in a renaissance, and we have a growing sense of pride in our heritage.

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We have been rediscovering many aspects of what it is to be Hawaiian.

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But there was something at the core of the old culture

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that has been slower to return.

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It was because of the culture being suppressed and kind of, er,

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belittled,

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that the values disappeared.

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Simple values like conservation and sharing.

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We have always been a progressive culture, not afraid of change,

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but the welfare of the natural world is no longer at the core of how we live.

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As a result, I believe we are in danger of destroying paradise.

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Now, more than ever, we need to rethink

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our relationship with nature.

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Being Hawaiian today is much more than being able to

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connect yourself and your genealogy to

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the ancients, the ones that settled here, it's much more than that.

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Being Hawaiian is all about connecting yourself to this place.

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In many ways,

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this place is still the paradise my ancestors discovered -

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a long chain of volcanic islands, each one unique,

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but all of them isolated by the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

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Here on the most remote islands on the planet,

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the ocean is our lifeblood.

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If we are to get re-connected to nature, this is where we need to start.

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He'e nalu, or wave sliding,

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was perfected here on these same waves over 800 years ago.

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Like many aspects of our culture,

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it was once banned by the missionaries from the west,

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but now has become so popular

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it is one of the fastest growing sports,

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not only in Hawaii, but in the whole world.

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Through the rebirth of surfing a new generation of Hawaiians

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are beginning to reconnect with what makes Hawaii so special.

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My name is Jack Johnson, and I grew up

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here in Hawaii on the north side of the island - the North Shore -

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and pretty much surfed any second I had a chance to, and just grew up surfing all the time.

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I like spending time in the water, whether it's sailing or snorkelling

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or just taking a swim, and it's nice to have fish around. The ecosystems that are created around a coral reef,

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you take away the reef you take away the whole system.

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The coral reefs that fringe much of the Hawaiian coastline

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are the basis for most of the life found in our ocean here.

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They are also a natural defence against Pacific swells,

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and they create the waves that made Hawaii famous.

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Hawaii comes straight up out of... volcanoes from the ocean floor,

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and so the waves and these open ocean swells are very deep

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and travelling very fast, then when they hit the coral reefs which just jut up,

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by the time it slows down it's really dramatic and it gets these really hollow waves

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and they're really beautiful to look into from the side.

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Surfing is totally dependent on the forces of nature.

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To surf well, you spend so much time immersed

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in the natural environment that it starts to change the way you think.

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You're sitting out there floating at sea, looking back at the land.

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It's almost like pictures from space looking back at Earth.

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I feel pretty small in nature and have a lot of time to ponder

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and think about things and what's been going on in your life.

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Everything's fast-paced - it's this hour you have to concentrate on what's important.

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You're thinking about nature a lot and hopefully you start thinking about what you can do to help.

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My ancestors found out the hard way that nature needed help.

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When they first settled the islands they didn't do things perfectly. There was a lot to learn for them.

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Of all the ecosystems they depended on,

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the reef was the most important and the most fragile.

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If the reef suffered, they suffered.

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Over many generations, through trial and error, they came up with a system

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that allowed them to harvest the island's natural resources,

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but at the same time protecting them.

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Back then, in order for the culture and the society to survive,

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you had to make sure that everything was in lokahi, everything was in harmony.

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So drastic measures were taken to ensure that, through kapu.

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Kapu, in the Hawaiian language, means forbidden.

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If an animal or plant, or even a whole reef was suffering from human impact,

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it was declared kapu. It meant you couldn't touch it, you couldn't

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pick it, you couldn't kill it and you certainly couldn't eat it.

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The penalties were so severe...

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..that it would be a very uncommon thing

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for someone to go out and do something against the law.

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If you took the wrong fish,

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you could pay for it, you know, with your life - that's how seriously they took it back then.

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Obviously in today's world, that would be a punishment too severe,

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but I believe that the ideas and principles our ancestors lived by

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should be taken seriously again.

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The story of the green sea turtle shows us that those old ideas

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are still relevant today.

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The green sea turtle was once reserved for only the royal table,

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but with the end of the kapu system, it became food for anyone's table.

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Just in time, someone saw what was going on.

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It really wasn't until

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about 1969 that, um...

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I became aware and concerned about sea turtles in Hawaii.

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And we were sitting down on the dock and a boat came in,

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and there were local fisherman on it and they had, lo and behold, they had

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turtles stacked up left and right in this boat.

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And I asked the fellow, "Where are these turtles going?

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"Where did you get so many turtles?"

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and he said, "Oh, they were going to some of the tourist restaurants."

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They paid them a dollar a pound.

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Whoa, 100-pound turtle, hundred-dollar bill, this is,

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this is pretty good

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for the fishermen anyway, but then I started thinking

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how many, how many turtles could be taken and the population sustained?

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The French Frigate Shoals up past the island of Kauai, 400 miles past Kauai,

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accounts for about 90% of the nesting throughout the entire Hawaiian chain.

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In the summer of 1973,

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on the single-most important islet at French Frigate Shoals

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we counted 67 turtles,

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and that didn't seem like very many turtles to me

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to be a major part of the breeding herd.

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If some reasonable steps weren't taken to put the brakes on this hunting,

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this was going to destroy a wonderful part

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of the Hawaiian ecosystem.

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By the mid-1970s, there was a reprieve for the turtle.

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They were declared an endangered species and protected by law.

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For the first time in nearly 200 years,

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turtles were effectively kapu.

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This modern form of protection

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was doing what the old Hawaiians had known centuries ago.

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Give nature a chance, and it will recover.

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You can now see turtles here, there and nearly everywhere.

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The key factors that have led to this road to recovery

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that we're seeing with the Hawaiian turtle

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clearly relate to the single act of stopping the harvesting,

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stopping the hunting.

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Stop killing them, let them reproduce

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and they will replenish themselves if a sufficient time has gone by.

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I see turtles all over the place.

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Every time I get out of my canoe I'm weaving in between turtles.

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I don't look at them as food.

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I'm sorry, it's not the same any more.

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Realising how close they were

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to going extinct...for me, it's a species that is hands-off now.

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Under protection, the green turtle's recovery has been incredible.

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Sadly, though, other native animals with the same level of protection

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continue to decline.

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Scientists believe the Hawaiian monk seal may not survive.

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The threat to the monk seal is not hunting but loss of habitat.

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In old Hawaii, declaring an animal kapu was only part of the story.

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Back then, they understood that you cannot protect a species

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without protecting the ecosystem that supports it.

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But to protect an ecosystem, you need a detailed understanding

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of how it works.

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There were individuals in old Hawaii who had just that.

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They were called the konohiki.

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The konohiki was the one appointed by the chiefs to make sure that,

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from the top of the mountain, all the way out to the ocean,

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that it was run efficiently and with conservation in mind.

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The konohiki were all scientists.

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They looked at every detail in the world around them -

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they counted the birds, monitored the fish, and decided

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whether the island ecology was in balance.

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You could call them the game warden,

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you could call them the natural resource manager,

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you could call them the judge as well, when it came to

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enforcing the kapu.

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Today the konohiki are all gone,

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but the need for them is just as great.

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Now, it's up to anyone who spends time in the wild

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to watch out for the environment.

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At any hint of a problem, it's up to us to raise the alarm.

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We've gotta, you know, we've gotta be the konohiki now.

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A lot of people my age, they go to bars and they go to clubs

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and that's how they have a good time.

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For me, I'm never more content than when

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it's me and a turtle or a fish, or a pod of dolphins or a shark.

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It's just, it's all in your preference and, for me,

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being in that environment with those animals is where I belong.

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I think that there's not even a comparison

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for free-diving and scuba diving for me.

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You can't swim very fast and it restricts you with the animals.

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Free-diving, it's just you, your fins,

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your mask and snorkel and the ocean.

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Water-people in general

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are the best friend that the ocean has

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because we respect it and we love it so much

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that we want to preserve and protect it.

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Just from the sheer amount of man hours that we spend in the ocean,

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we've seen things that maybe a lot of people don't know are there.

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One of the saddest signs of the times for me

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is seeing what the dolphins are playing with.

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The best kind of toys that you see them with

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are obviously leaves that have drifted offshore,

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they'll pick 'em up either with their rostrum or on their pectoral fins.

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They'll come and they'll pick it up and they'll swim with it,

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fast enough so that the leaf will stay there.

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But also, when they're not playing with leaves, since there's a lot of

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plastic in the water, you see them a lot with the plastic grocery bags.

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There is a lot of instances where it could get stuck on their blowhole

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or it would get stuck around their rostrum so they can't open their mouth,

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or they'll swallow it and it'll clog their throat.

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I think that plastic has become an alternative - if not the main thing -

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that they have to play with out there.

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Dolphins playing with plastic bags

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may appear to many people as unfortunate or even unpleasant,

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but to a konohiki it would be seen as a sign -

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a warning sign that we are placing our environment under unnatural

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and mounting pressure.

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To the rest of the world, Hawaii is seen as a typical island paradise.

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That obviously attracts visitors,

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and in the age of cheap air travel, lots of visitors.

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Today, we have about a million residents,

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but a further seven million people arrive each year

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for a few weeks in paradise.

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It's the main source of income on the islands, the tourist industry,

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and it's, uh, if not looked after, it'll slowly eat everything up

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and just take away everything that people come here for.

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You've got a visitor industry that is designed to

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please the visitor, take their money.

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Before, the ocean was our refrigerator.

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Now it's like a...

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cash cow for many people.

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# Going, my boat's leaving today

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# I'm gonna get down to the water Gonna wash these blues away

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# Man, the city has taken too much from me

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# I'm gonna head out to the country Find a place where I can breathe

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# Got money and got no use for you

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# Unless you can buy me true love

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# Now it's funny how many times they prove

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# That the only true fortune you can save

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# Is the truth. #

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We want visitors to enjoy our ocean and wildlife

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but now the tourist industry is encouraging too many people into the water

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without any real thought for the damage they can cause.

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In a normal free-diving session for me, I may see

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boat anchors that have torn off coral heads, so you see a broken

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coral head lying there on the floor,

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or depending on where you go, you see people that just don't know any better

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that are standing on the coral heads, not knowing what they're doing.

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Coral reefs are very fragile.

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Just one touch from a finger can kill a coral polyp.

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In some of the bays most heavily publicised by the visitor industry,

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up to 90% of the coral is now makee - dead.

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The irony is that, as the industry strives for ever-greater profits,

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it's transforming the landscape that attracted the visitors in the first place.

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What are people coming to Hawaii for?

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They're not coming here just to see hotel buildings, they're coming here

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to experience things out of nature, to see beautiful coral reefs,

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to see beautiful mountains. Let's not throw away the reason the people come here.

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You could shoot yourself in the foot by taking away the reasons.

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The islands have become a playground for visitors,

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but it's all of us who are paying the price.

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One of my best places, my favourite places when I was growing up to go camping,

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there's now a huge hotel right on the property.

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We've developed our coastline so much that we no longer have access

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to the simple things in life that kept us, you know, happy.

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Call some place paradise and kiss it goodbye, yeah?

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It's the same all over the world.

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It's easy to think that all these problems are someone else's fault.

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But I think, whether you were born here, or whether you're here

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for just two weeks, everyone has a role to play in making things right.

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The ancestors had a principle

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which I think could help steer us back on course.

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The word kuleana means

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privilege and responsibility.

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It's that double-edged sword.

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If you have the privilege of

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enjoying something, you also have the responsibility to protect it.

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As a teacher, I believe it's my kuleana,

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my responsibility, to encourage people to act

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more like the Hawaiians of old and take better care of these islands.

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The key is to work on this next generation right here

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and create a whole new army of environmental thinkers.

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Well, the first step is to get them off the couch.

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My school is part of Hawaiian Canoe Club.

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Outrigger paddling is not only culturally significant but also

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a lot of fun and a great way to get kids to start seeing the world

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as the ancients did.

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It's your refrigerator, it's your playground,

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it's your gym, it's your church. It's everything to you.

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The ocean is our life as Hawaiians.

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Everybody ready to race?

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HE CALLS OUT IN HAWAIIAN AND THEY ANSWER

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Have fun!

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When you get kids out onto the open ocean, they have to work together

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and they have to understand better the rhythms of the ocean -

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how small they are and how precarious our existence is.

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It makes them realise that there's more to life

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than TVs and MP3 players.

0:25:570:26:00

The more you get kids out there, the more they ask questions.

0:26:000:26:03

They see stuff that doesn't belong

0:26:030:26:05

and they want to know who put this plastic bag in the water?

0:26:050:26:08

How come it's brown today and not so blue?

0:26:080:26:11

They wanna know who's polluting THEIR environment.

0:26:110:26:14

You could sit in a classroom and teach kids

0:26:150:26:18

about preserving the ecology

0:26:180:26:20

and the environment, but it takes a few hours to get them out there

0:26:200:26:24

and witness something that'll change their life forever.

0:26:240:26:27

# Miserere, miserere

0:27:060:27:12

# Miserere, miserere

0:27:120:27:17

# Miserere, miserere...

0:27:170:27:24

# Have you ever been so happy that you're sad

0:27:270:27:29

# That the lights turn to stars and the stars become eyes

0:27:290:27:33

# And hellos are goodbyes and the laughs are the sighs

0:27:330:27:35

# And the show disappears with the note 'until next time'

0:27:350:27:39

# Long live living If living can be this

0:27:390:27:45

# Long live living If living can be this

0:27:500:27:55

# Long live living If living can be this. #

0:28:010:28:07

To be able to go surf someplace that, that's such a privilege.

0:28:190:28:24

There's something that you have to do to earn that privilege,

0:28:260:28:29

and if it's cleaning up the beach,

0:28:290:28:31

that's one thing, if it's going out there diving

0:28:310:28:34

and picking up debris from the reef,

0:28:340:28:36

going out there and cleaning something up like that,

0:28:360:28:39

that gives you, that gives you privilege, but you gotta earn 'em.

0:28:390:28:43

It's never too big a task when you're out in the water

0:28:480:28:51

to try to clean up everything that you see.

0:28:510:28:53

I'll pick up the plastic and I'll stuff it in my leash or I'll tie it to the leash cord in the back

0:28:530:28:58

or any way that I can kind of secure it down.

0:28:580:29:01

If I see it, I'll pick it up, I never just leave it there.

0:29:010:29:04

Just leaving it there is just as bad

0:29:040:29:06

as you just going and throwing it there in the first place,

0:29:060:29:09

it's the same thing.

0:29:090:29:11

Everyone here has a responsibility to help.

0:29:140:29:17

It's up to each Hawaiian to work out how they can be most effective.

0:29:170:29:21

If you can inspire thousands of people as you do it,

0:29:210:29:23

so much the better.

0:29:230:29:25

Right now, we'd like to... (INAUDIBLE) ..for the kids.

0:29:260:29:30

We've got a song...

0:29:300:29:32

we play in the schools sometimes.

0:29:320:29:35

I wanna hear it loud.

0:29:350:29:36

'Music's always just been a little hobby.'

0:29:360:29:39

The last few years it's become more of something I do,

0:29:390:29:42

and it's brought a lot of attention to myself,

0:29:420:29:45

and so I've decided to take some of that attention

0:29:450:29:47

and focus it on some issues back here in Hawaii,

0:29:470:29:50

and so we started the Kokua Hawaii Foundation,

0:29:500:29:53

and kokua in the Hawaiian language means to help.

0:29:530:29:56

# Three, it's a magic number Yes it is... #

0:29:560:30:02

We saw there was a bit of a hole as far as working with kids

0:30:020:30:04

and getting them ready for the future.

0:30:040:30:06

And we do things like we started recycling programmes,

0:30:060:30:10

and we fund field trips that send kids out into nature

0:30:100:30:12

where they learn about native plants and animals.

0:30:120:30:15

OK, ready? One, two...

0:30:150:30:19

'I was in the studio recording a record and I had the idea

0:30:190:30:22

of 'reduce, reuse, recycle.'

0:30:220:30:24

I kind of just made this song up in about an hour there.

0:30:240:30:27

Kids' songs, it's always fun, you don't have to over-analyse it,

0:30:270:30:30

you know, you just try to make it funky and fun.

0:30:300:30:33

-# Cos two times three is...

-Six!

0:30:330:30:36

-# And three times six is...

-18!

0:30:360:30:39

# And the 18th letter in the alphabet is R! #

0:30:390:30:42

As a kid, I grew up dreaming about

0:30:420:30:45

being on a deserted island and having to figure out how would you survive.

0:30:450:30:48

# We gotta learn to reduce, reuse, recycle

0:30:480:30:51

# Reduce, reuse, recycle... #

0:30:510:30:54

It's kind of what life's about, is trying to be sustainable.

0:30:540:30:57

# Reduce, reuse, recycle

0:30:570:30:59

# Now if you're going to the market to buy some juice

0:30:590:31:02

# Bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste... #

0:31:020:31:06

It's funny cos the kids

0:31:060:31:08

start singing it and some of them probably think

0:31:080:31:10

this is important stuff, others just think it's fun,

0:31:100:31:13

they get to dance and yell out, and the words sink in,

0:31:130:31:16

and I'll meet kids and they'll start singing the song to me.

0:31:160:31:18

Right, everybody sing.

0:31:180:31:20

# Reduce, reuse, recycle... # That's good!

0:31:200:31:22

# Reduce, reuse, recycle

0:31:220:31:24

# Reduce, reuse, recycle Reduce, reuse, recycle... #

0:31:240:31:30

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

0:31:300:31:33

A simple message of how to live within your means.

0:31:330:31:36

# It's a magic... #

0:31:360:31:38

It's basically what we learned in that canoe all those centuries ago.

0:31:410:31:44

That message is now spreading

0:31:460:31:48

beyond the schoolroom and into our communities.

0:31:480:31:51

# Three, it's a magic number. #

0:31:510:31:55

But just as WE'RE learning to think Hawaiian again,

0:31:550:31:57

it's no longer enough.

0:31:570:32:00

Our islands are now facing a problem so large

0:32:020:32:05

that we Hawaiians cannot solve it alone.

0:32:050:32:08

# Oh Captain, tell me true

0:32:110:32:15

# Does my darling sail with you?

0:32:150:32:19

# No, she does not sail with me

0:32:190:32:23

# She sleeps on the bottom of the sea

0:32:230:32:27

# What did the deep sea say?

0:32:270:32:31

# Tell me, what did the deep sea say?

0:32:310:32:34

# It moaned and groaned and it splashed and it foamed

0:32:340:32:39

# And it rode on its weary way. #

0:32:390:32:42

We're currently on Kamilo Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii.

0:32:460:32:51

This area is an accumulation point for marine debris.

0:32:510:32:55

It's currently in the running for

0:32:550:32:58

the title of dirtiest beach in the world.

0:32:580:33:01

Most of this debris is not from Hawaiians themselves,

0:33:010:33:05

not from products that are consumed here,

0:33:050:33:08

not from tourists that use the beaches.

0:33:080:33:10

Most of it comes from what we call the Pacific Rim,

0:33:100:33:13

the area on the continents surrounding Hawaii.

0:33:130:33:16

The shores of Hawaii are littered with the debris of civilisation.

0:33:160:33:23

Every year,

0:33:250:33:27

the world produces nearly 150 billion kilograms of plastic.

0:33:270:33:31

It is thought that as much as half ends up in the environment.

0:33:310:33:36

Once there, it doesn't break down - it just accumulates.

0:33:360:33:40

The idea that plastics are throwaway materials

0:33:420:33:45

that are used once then tossed,

0:33:450:33:47

that was a concept developed to use the vast productivity

0:33:470:33:51

generated by our economic system in World War II,

0:33:510:33:54

to keep it moving, keep it going after the war came to a close.

0:33:540:33:57

It was decided, "Well, we'll generate a throwaway society."

0:33:570:34:02

This is, in part, responsible for what you're seeing here,

0:34:020:34:05

and I think if we had the tools to be archaeologists of plastic and to date it,

0:34:050:34:10

we would find that some of the particles here

0:34:100:34:13

date from the dawn of the plastic era in the 1950s.

0:34:130:34:16

Hawaii is the most remote island chain in the world,

0:34:200:34:24

and yet global garbage is found from the shores of Kamilo Beach,

0:34:240:34:28

right up to the north-western limits of the archipelago 1,500 miles away.

0:34:280:34:33

The islands to the northwest are the oldest in the chain.

0:34:330:34:38

They were once great volcanoes, like the main islands,

0:34:380:34:41

but have slowly sunk back down into the ocean.

0:34:410:34:45

We call the northwest Hawaiian islands the Kapuna islands

0:34:450:34:49

because that's exactly what they are - kapuna are our elders.

0:34:490:34:53

By us going up there and looking at what is happening

0:35:040:35:07

to the northwest Hawaiian islands,

0:35:070:35:10

we're learning from that and that's what kapuna do.

0:35:100:35:13

They teach the younger generation

0:35:130:35:15

and sometimes they have very harsh lessons to teach.

0:35:150:35:19

You hear mixed reports about the northwest Hawaiian islands.

0:35:220:35:25

On one hand, what I've seen of them on TV is just, you know, there's seabirds everywhere

0:35:250:35:30

and monk seals and spinner dolphins, and it seems like such a cool place,

0:35:300:35:34

but I've also read reports on the other hand that there are beaches there covered in trash.

0:35:340:35:39

These small and isolated islands have never been permanently settled

0:35:540:35:58

by people, and so have remained a sanctuary for Hawaiian wildlife.

0:35:580:36:02

In June 2006,

0:36:050:36:08

the northwest Hawaiian islands were made a US national monument.

0:36:080:36:11

The largest fully protected marine conservation area on the planet.

0:36:110:36:16

The continuing health of these islands is critical

0:36:160:36:20

to the survival of some of Hawaii's most vulnerable species.

0:36:200:36:24

The northwest Hawaiian islands marine ecological reserve

0:36:270:36:30

is a national treasure. It's protected by law.

0:36:300:36:33

There is no law that can stop the drift of oceanic currents,

0:36:370:36:41

and there is no law that can stop the oceanic currents

0:36:410:36:44

from bringing plastic debris to those islands.

0:36:440:36:47

And as it exists now, the Hawaiian chain is in dire threat, daily,

0:36:520:36:57

from tons and tons of marine debris of every description

0:36:570:37:01

causing every type of ecological harm that you can imagine.

0:37:010:37:05

Midway, the most famous of the northwest Hawaiian islands,

0:37:220:37:25

has the harshest lesson of all.

0:37:250:37:27

Midway played a pivotal role

0:37:320:37:34

in the Second World War, but now it's part of the national monument.

0:37:340:37:38

For the last 50 years, animals have been re-colonising the island

0:37:380:37:42

and living quite comfortably among the remnants of war.

0:37:420:37:46

Midway is the breeding ground of millions of seabirds.

0:37:540:37:58

Including 90% of the world's Laysan albatross.

0:37:580:38:02

It's hard for me to imagine that at one point there were planes

0:38:150:38:18

taking off and landing all the time on Midway, and being such a central part in the war

0:38:180:38:23

because now it seems like the albatrosses have taken over the island, they're everywhere.

0:38:230:38:27

At the height of the season,

0:38:290:38:30

there's about 1.4 million albatross on the island -

0:38:300:38:33

that's a lot of birds.

0:38:330:38:35

During the nesting season, the Laysan albatross chicks

0:38:430:38:47

are confined to this small piece of land in the middle of the Pacific.

0:38:470:38:50

They are completely dependent on what their parents bring them to eat

0:38:500:38:55

from the open ocean.

0:38:550:38:56

They fatten up for seven months,

0:38:560:38:59

then the young albatrosses should be fit,

0:38:590:39:02

ready to fledge and able to begin fending for themselves.

0:39:020:39:07

But these days, many of them are barely getting off the ground.

0:39:070:39:12

When I first pulled up to this little corner it was horrifying.

0:39:220:39:26

I didn't know it was here and I looked at it...and...it's horrible.

0:39:260:39:30

There's trash, there's plastic, there's dead albatrosses.

0:39:300:39:33

It's just awful.

0:39:330:39:34

A lot of them, they try to fly and you know that once those wings

0:39:370:39:40

go in the water it's trouble, cos they get all waterlogged.

0:39:400:39:44

I feel so badly for these guys who are sitting here but some of them,

0:39:450:39:48

the ones who look fairly healthy, I don't want to move them,

0:39:480:39:52

I don't wanna tire them out any more than they are.

0:39:520:39:56

But the ones that do come down and get stuck up on the rocks,

0:39:560:40:00

I wanna pull those guys out.

0:40:000:40:01

Many albatross chicks are just too weak to make it to adulthood.

0:40:090:40:13

To find out why,

0:40:140:40:16

we need to look at what the parents are unwittingly feeding them.

0:40:160:40:19

My science class was, um...

0:40:210:40:23

given these boluses of these Laysan albatrosses to dissect,

0:40:230:40:31

and the bolus is basically what

0:40:310:40:34

the albatross regurgitates.

0:40:340:40:36

What we found was very little of the stomach contents was actually

0:40:360:40:43

what they normally eat, their regular diet.

0:40:430:40:46

Most of what we found in each albatross bolus was...

0:40:460:40:50

was marine debris - plastic lighters,

0:40:500:40:53

floaters, fishing lures, even little plastic toys.

0:40:530:40:57

What my kids began to express to me

0:40:590:41:05

was basically, "How the heck?"

0:41:050:41:09

How did these foreign objects get into the stomach of this, this albatross?

0:41:090:41:15

-Oh, my God...

-Yeah.

0:41:170:41:19

Laysan albatross

0:41:200:41:22

assume that anything floating on the ocean surface is edible.

0:41:220:41:26

For millions of years, this has been a fair assumption.

0:41:260:41:29

But, today, in some parts of the Pacific,

0:41:290:41:32

there is more plastic than food.

0:41:320:41:36

The entire Pacific Ocean is circulating this debris,

0:41:360:41:39

so there are many billions of particles circulating in this never-ending spiral

0:41:390:41:46

that, you know, may never touch land and will just constantly

0:41:460:41:49

be in the ocean until they are degraded to the point

0:41:490:41:52

where they either sink to the bottom or they become ingested by some creature.

0:41:520:42:00

In nature, albatross chicks typically die from either starvation

0:42:050:42:10

or dehydration and that's kind of the way it's always been.

0:42:100:42:13

Plastics help this process along by taking up room in their stomachs

0:42:130:42:17

that would normally be reserved for food and water.

0:42:170:42:20

So when you have an albatross chick

0:42:200:42:21

that's got half its stomach full of plastic,

0:42:210:42:23

that's half its stomach that can't be used.

0:42:230:42:26

So as you walk around this nesting colony,

0:42:310:42:33

all that you really see left are just the dead ones

0:42:330:42:36

and, um, you can see in the dead ones that have been left here for a while

0:42:360:42:41

they've started to decay, and inside those

0:42:410:42:44

you can see a lot of the plastics that have been left behind.

0:42:440:42:48

What I think that I might do is wander around for an hour

0:42:510:42:54

and pick up the noticeable recognisable bits,

0:42:540:42:56

and then hopefully I can take them down to the beach and lay them out

0:42:560:43:00

so we can get a better idea of what's out there.

0:43:000:43:02

At first glance, it doesn't really seem like

0:43:070:43:10

there's too many plastics on the ground,

0:43:100:43:12

but once you start looking around and taking a closer look, you just see that it's everywhere.

0:43:120:43:17

Even in the old days, the Hawaiians used to look at certain species

0:43:220:43:25

to get an idea of what's going on out there

0:43:250:43:27

and where they should start to apply different kapu and restrictions.

0:43:270:43:33

Sadly, these birds are giving their lives

0:43:330:43:36

to show us what we're doing to the oceans.

0:43:360:43:41

So I spent about an hour this afternoon walking around,

0:43:460:43:49

picking up all the plastic that I could find out of the dead albatross chicks

0:43:490:43:54

and the boluses that they cough up.

0:43:540:43:55

Um, I've kind of laid it out here,

0:43:550:43:58

based on just different categories of the stuff that I've found.

0:43:580:44:03

The fishing gear is what you would expect to find.

0:44:030:44:06

The lines get broken and floats get lost and stuff like that,

0:44:060:44:10

so this type of stuff isn't quite so surprising.

0:44:100:44:14

If you aren't a fisherman,

0:44:140:44:16

you're probably feeling good about yourself right now,

0:44:160:44:19

you're thinking, "OK, this isn't my fault."

0:44:190:44:20

So now I'm going to pick on the smokers.

0:44:200:44:23

These are all lighters.

0:44:230:44:24

And if you're a golfer, here's some golf balls.

0:44:240:44:27

Roller balls that come in your deodorant.

0:44:270:44:29

We have all these kids' toys...

0:44:290:44:31

Bunch of combs and brushes.

0:44:310:44:32

So if you guys drink juice in the morning...

0:44:320:44:34

Here's a glue stick...a few glue sticks actually.

0:44:340:44:37

Here's a little gun, which is kind of fitting for Midway, I guess.

0:44:370:44:41

Everyone knows Santa Claus.

0:44:410:44:43

Some print cartridges...

0:44:430:44:45

and if you think about how big the albatrosses are

0:44:450:44:48

and how big their necks are, this is about the same size.

0:44:480:44:51

It's amazing that they can even get these things down.

0:44:510:44:53

It can't be very comfortable for them.

0:44:530:44:56

The next one...

0:44:560:44:58

We have a bunch of pens that have made it over here.

0:44:580:45:01

Here's a bunch of toothpicks.

0:45:010:45:03

This is somewhat of a monstrosity.

0:45:030:45:05

Door handles... Clothes pins...

0:45:050:45:07

It's a baby rattle...

0:45:070:45:09

There's still actually lip balm in it. I wouldn't want to use it.

0:45:090:45:12

If I was an albatross, I don't think that I would like to swallow this.

0:45:120:45:16

Still, if you've made it this far without thinking

0:45:190:45:22

that something that you use has become a problem,

0:45:220:45:25

the toothbrushes should get you because I know that everybody uses toothbrushes.

0:45:250:45:30

Every single piece of this plastic that we've pulled out

0:45:320:45:36

of the albatross colonies has come here in an albatross.

0:45:360:45:39

It hasn't washed up on the beach, it hasn't been dumped here by humans,

0:45:390:45:44

it came here inside a bird.

0:45:440:45:45

I don't think that people actually realise on a day-to-day basis

0:45:500:45:54

what the impact actually is.

0:45:540:45:56

We did this -

0:45:560:45:58

we all did this to them, and it's just horrid, it's horrifying.

0:45:580:46:02

Throw-away living may be profitable

0:46:090:46:13

but the consequences are intolerable.

0:46:130:46:16

It's certainly a problem for everyone

0:46:160:46:20

and it will require all facets of society to solve it.

0:46:200:46:26

The ocean itself eventually will spit this stuff out,

0:46:260:46:29

but we have to stop putting it in.

0:46:290:46:31

If we don't stop putting it in, it will never be able to spit it all out,

0:46:310:46:36

and that's the situation we are in right now.

0:46:360:46:38

When Hawaii - one of the most isolated places on the planet -

0:46:460:46:50

is damaged by the world's wasteful and unsustainable living,

0:46:500:46:53

we should all sit up and pay attention.

0:46:530:46:56

Our tiny islands are offering up a warning,

0:46:570:47:01

but also can provide some hope.

0:47:010:47:03

Hawaiian history has shown us that sustainable living

0:47:040:47:07

is not impossible.

0:47:070:47:09

If it's been done before, it can be done again.

0:47:090:47:13

We just need to work out what's important to us.

0:47:130:47:16

If you have an environment like this

0:47:180:47:20

to live in,

0:47:200:47:23

you can have any mansion, any jet plane, you can keep it, OK?

0:47:230:47:28

I'm rich. I've got everything I need.

0:47:280:47:32

As a society, we have to realise that this wealth is exhaustible.

0:47:320:47:38

If we don't use it wisely,

0:47:380:47:41

that wealth will turn into poverty for us,

0:47:410:47:45

and this poverty means not being able to survive.

0:47:450:47:49

When this has gone, it's already gone.

0:47:500:47:53

We can't mail order anything else.

0:47:530:47:55

It's no longer enough for just us, on our islands,

0:47:570:48:01

to re-discover how to live within our means.

0:48:010:48:04

We all have to think Hawaiian now.

0:48:040:48:06

Live like you're in a canoe.

0:48:080:48:09

MUSIC: The 3 R's by Jack Johnson

0:48:170:48:21

This beautiful and inspiring documentary features the wildlife of Hawaii's famous surf zone and the surfers and scientists who are fighting to protect it. Turtles, dolphins, monk seals and albatrosses all have to cope with the growing number of people using the island beaches, but now animals face a new threat from washed up plastic. A varied bunch of island characters, including born and bred Hawaiian musician Jack Johnson, make it clear that these beautiful islands have a powerful message for us all.