HONOLULU (KHON2) — June is National Oceans Month, and June 8th is World Ocean Day, which will be celebrated in 140 countries. It’s a time to honor one of our most precious resources and raise awareness about the dangers it faces.

The ocean is known as the ‘lungs of the earth’. It provides food and medicine for us, helps keep the climate in check and we use it as a source of recreation.

On the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

Keeping our beaches clean by picking up litter is a simple way for all of us to help keep the ocean clean, but man-made garbage isn’t the only thing harming it.

To kick off World Ocean’s Day, Malama Maunalua hosted a community clean-up day on Saturday, June 4. The clean-up was done at Kuliʻouʻou Beach Park on Oahu.

Volunteers spent Saturday removing three different types of invasive algae smothering the coral reef ecosystem.

Alex Awo is a director for Malama Maunalua, a nonprofit working to restore and preserve Maunalua Bay.

“A lot of times people don’t realize some of our plants and animals are also causing that same type of impact where they are becoming a problem, they’re adding to that cause of pollution,” Awo explained.

“Behind me we actually have all of the invasive algae that we removed (Saturday),” he said pointing to more than a dozen green net bags filled with limu. “This is about 2,000 wet weight of this stuff.”

And it’s all done by hand to ensure they don’t kill any native plants or animals.

To date, Awo said Malama Maunalua has removed more than four million pounds of invasive algae. He showed a photo of Kuli’ou’ou Beach Park completely overrun with algae in 2009 when they first started doing this. And he had a second photo of the area, taken several years later, looking closer to how it currently looks.

Once they collected the algae, Awo said they take it to other businesses who turn it into compost.

“Which is pretty awesome for us because we found a pretty pono and sustainable solution to take a really big negative problem and turn it into something positive and upcycle it on an island where sustainability is everything,” said Awo.

Briana Berdel, a biologist at the Waikiki Aquarium, pointed out just how fragile the ocean is.

“In the ocean, everything works together so it’s just really important to pay attention because if we lose just one part then the rest will kind of follow,” said Berdel.

The Waikiki Aquarium has a slew of events happening all month highlighting the importance of ocean conservation:

  • Monday, June 6, 20: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort – Hawaiians and the Sea Presentation
  • Saturday, June 11: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Sherwood Beach Park cleanup
  • Monday, June 13, 27: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort – Hawaiians and the Sea Presentation

And on June 8, World Ocean Day, they’ll have educational activities for the whole family.

Wednesday, June 8: WORLD OCEAN DAY -Waikiki Aquarium:

  • 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Ocean Inspired Crafts
  • 10 a.m. -12 p.m. – Hawaiians and the Sea
  • 11 a.m. – Feeding with Coral Biologist
  • 12 p.m. – Feeding with Jellyfish Biologist
  • 1 p.m. – Feeding with Syngnathid Biologist