MILILANI, HI -- The Mililani Army JROTC Trojan Battalion descended on the North Shore of Oahu at Mālaekahana State Recreation Area, on 13 March 2021, to assist the Division of State Parks, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the University of Hawaii to protect the wildlife from man-made pollution. Thousands of animals, from small finches to whales, die from eating and getting caught in plastic.
The Trojan mission was to assist with DLNR and conduct their annual service learning project to help remove plastics from the beaches and to remove Invasive mangrove plants from the stream that flows out from the mountains. Over the past week, Hawaii has experienced severe rains with nearly 50 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch until 6 pm on the day of the event, but other than brown ocean water from the run-off over the past week of wet weather, the morning was actually nice with little rain and some sunshine.
The Senior Service Coordinator, LET 4, Cadet Captain Kaley Rockett planned this event since the beginning of the school year and with Covid-19, rains, flooding, she stayed optimistic and the mission was a go.
"It was so awesome to have our new LET 1s participate in their first service learning project. I had not met any of them since our school was fully on-line since March 2020. Meeting them in person and working with them was an awesome experience, and since I am a senior, it was my last opportunity to organize this Service Learning Project with DLNR. We learned so much about the habitat of the birds, and other marine animals and giving back to the community is what service learning is all about".
"Park Interpretive Program Specialist, Kekai Mar, Division of State Parks Department of Land and Natural Resource, made this project possible. He level of compassion for the wildlife and their habitat was demonstrated as he explained the facts about what plastics and micro fibers do to the environment, said Rockett".
Facts about Marine Pollution. Fish in the Pacific Ocean ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish, marine mammals and human seafood eaters. A recent study found that a quarter of fish at markets contained plastic in their guts, mostly in the form of plastic micro fibers.
Sea turtles can mistake floating plastic garbage for food. They can choke, sustain internal injury and die — or starve by thinking they’re full from eating plastic. Tragically, research indicates that half of sea turtles worldwide have ingested plastic. New studies find plastic pollution is so pervasive on many beaches that it's affecting their reproduction.
Hundreds of thousands of seabirds ingest plastic every year. Plastic ingestion reduces the storage volume of the stomach, causing starvation. It’s estimated that 60 percent of all seabird species have eaten pieces of plastic, with that number predicted to increase to 99 percent by 2050. Dead seabirds are often found with stomachs full of plastic, reflecting how the amount of garbage in our oceans has rapidly increased in the past 40 years
Marine mammals ingest, and get tangled up in, plastic. Large amounts of plastic debris have been found in the habitat of critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals, including in areas that serve as pup nurseries. Entanglement in plastic debris has also led to injury and mortality in the endangered marine life, with packing bands the most common entangling material.