Hanauma Bay memories, history, and changes


Park Superintendent Alan Hong (now retired) personally greeting visitors to the new visitor center in 2002.
For the Oahu crowd, and visitors to Oahu, today was a milestone that will probably go unnoticed.  In 2002, in response to numerous complaints that the Hanauma Bay Marine Conservation District was being "loved to death," a new visitor center championed by Park Superintendent Alan Hong was opened.  In addition to providing opportunities to learn more about the bay and its inhabitants, a new requirement was that residents and visitors alike needed to watch a short, 9 minute video at least once a year.  


Jeff Kuwabara, then the UH Education Specialist for Hanauma Bay, pointing out features of the reef on display in the visitor center in 2002.
The video emphasized visitor etiquette on the reef, some natural history, some regulations (no touching sea turtles), and ocean safety. The etiquette?  Don't feed the fish, don't touch the reef, and don't stand on the reef.  Volunteers like myself repeated these etiquette guidelines in an introduction to the video, along with a reminder about the prohibition on alcohol and smoking in the park.


A photo of some of the periodic volunteers in the volunteer room.  Our family is in the photo in the upper left: Katelin, Caroline, Robert, and Wesley.  At least one of us has been volunteering every year since 2000.

Wesley helping visitors with their questions.

So what happened today? Today, after some long and (to me) invisible process, the old video was replaced with a new version.  This new video deemphasizes natural history, reemphasizes reef etiquette, and gives new emphasis to safety in the ocean.  It's about 10 minutes long.  The emphasis on safety makes sense in a morbid and sad way... the city has been sued in the past regarding drownings, including at Hanauma Bay.  I suspect the risk management folk with the city and state (especially the city... access to the bay is a city function, and they also employ the lifeguards) had a great deal of input into this section.


Caroline picking up trash that washed up at the bay.
Katelin introducing the old version of the HB video.
It's a hard job, but somebody has to do the leaning!
The beginning of the new video.
There are a couple of things that were really noticeable with the new version of the video.  First, there is only a single video clip of a swimming green sea turtle (honu).  I miss the gasp of the previous audiences when they watched that honu drifting through the bay.  This newer video has a very short clip of a honu at the end, but earlier there is a cartoonish, virtual honu.  What gives with that?  And second, there is no mention of the volunteer program or of volunteers.  Visitors come to Waikiki and realize that everyone is trying to sell something to them.  I've sensed them protectively reach for their wallets when I approach to ask if they have any questions.  I'd like the new video to mention that there are friendly volunteers waiting and willing to be approached.  I guess I'll have to mention that in my opening remarks.


Safety reminders rule in the new video.

You may have noticed that Katelin and Wesley are not in Hawaii at the moment... These photos of some of their previous volunteer shifts are blasts from the past!


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