Governor Ige has issued a special proclamation honoring the ten-year anniversary of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which was on June 15th, 2016. From now on, that day will be known as Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Day in Hawaii. The ten year anniversary of this wellspring of Hawaiian biodiversity was a momentous occasion, and certainly worthy of the recognition that it has earned.

The monument was originally named the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument when it was established in 2006, and at the time, it was the largest marine protected area in the world. It was given its Hawaiian name a year later. The monument was the beginning of a new kind of conservation, large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs), which has been gaining momentum since. It was this monument's fantastic biodiversity and rich cultural resources.

After Papahānaumokuākea was established, 18 more LSMPAs were either formally established or government declared. The world's oceans went from just 1% protected to 3% protected. That 3% covers 10.5 million square kilometers. If it were a country, the combined size of these waters would make it the second largest in the world.

Another landmark is coming up for the monument on July 30th of this year. It will mark its six year anniversary as the nation's first and only mixed natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you've read our prior posts about the monument, then you'll know that exciting new species are being discovered there on a regular basis, including whole communities of unexplored reef ecosystems. It makes sense that the Northwestern Hawaiian islands would anchor such reefs, because the islands are older and older the further they are in that direction. The oldest dead volcano in the chain is estimated to be about 81 million years old, which puts its origin in the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era. That's right, dinosaurs still roamed the earth at that time. It gives you a sense of how long marine life has been established in the area, evolving and adapting to its own unique set of environmental conditions.

Today, we are lucky to enjoy the beauty and cultural significance of Hawaii's marine life. That's why our work is such a pleasure, and we love sharing these natural gifts with guests who join us on our Molokini Snorkel Tour as well as our Lanai Snorkel Tour. These experiences are unforgettable for many. We hope that in the future, you might be one of them. Mahalo!

Change happens one person at a time, and sometimes one company at a time. Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, has come up with a brilliant packaging material to keep our ocean clean and free from damaging and sometimes deadly plastic. Six-pack rings made from plastic are possibly the most notorious kind of garbage because of the serious damage they do to marine life through ingestion and entanglement. With this in mind, Saltwater Brewery has cooked up an edible substitute for their six-packs.

This innovative craft beer company took sustainability yet another step forward by making the packaging from their own beer by-products. The barley, wheat and other ingredients are combined for a product that isn't just safe for fish to eat, but even for humans. Of course they don't have to be ingested to break down. They are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable.

Remarkably, the packaging is just as resistant and efficient as plastic, making it perfectly functional and harmless in the environment. The only difference is that it costs a bit more at this point, a factor that Saltwater Brewery hopes its customers will be willing to support for another step toward a healthier environment. If more breweries invest in this type of packaging, the prices could drop in the future, and that's a possibility that Saltwater Brewery is hoping for.

If you join us on a Maui snorkel tour, you'll discover how uncommonly clean our waters are from plastic debris and other trash. Hawaii's land area is miniscule compared to the breadth of the ocean surrounding it, and the population here takes its environmental health seriously, but debris can drift from any landmass to virtually any other landmass on Earth, so even our waters get some of it at times. That's why this innovative packaging choice is so inspiring.

This is the first time a 100 percent edible and biodegradable beer packaging has been implemented in the beer industry. If you want to learn more about this great little company and watch a short, informative video about their packaging, you can check out the community page at www.saltwaterbrewery.com. If you need any assistance with your Maui ocean activities, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!

The northwestern Hawaiian island chain is home to a very special network of deep coral reefs. Those reefs are part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, and they contain the most abundant collection of endemic species found in any region of the world, according to NOAA scientist Randall Kosaki, PhD. This is another reason why we're proud to support the work of marine scientists through our Maui ocean tours.

   Kosaki is the deputy superintendent for Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, within NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. His study has recently been published in Marine Biodiversity, a scientific journal, revealing the complexity and abundance of deep coral reef fish communities found exclusively in Hawaii. The region contains one of the planet's richest reservoirs of biodiversity, and the highest level of endemism in any marine ecosystem recorded so far.

If you aren't familiar with the term "endemism," it simply refers to species that have developed in a certain region and exist nowhere else. These species have evolved specifically to take advantage of their ecosystem of origin, often developing unique traits in the process, which make them especially interesting to the scientific community. High endemism also tends to occur in places with conditions that are especially hospitable to life in some way. As a result, such ecosystems contain many "niches" for various species to fill, leading those species to become highly specialized for their environment. The complexity of these ecosystems can be mind boggling.

Isolation is another driver behind high endemism, and the Hawaiian archipelago is one of the most remote on Earth. You may be wondering how that can be a factor when oceans are all connected, but migration can still be dangerous, challenging, and even virtually impossible for some marine species. Consider that they're reliant on certain conditions and food availability to survive, which aren't available everywhere for some species.

The communities referenced in the study are found at a 300-foot depth near the Kure Atoll, which is 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu. Given the very specific location of this ecosystem, you're not going to find these particular species when trying out a Molokini snorkel tour, or when you're exploring the reefs around Maui, but Hawaii's shallower waters foster a stunning biodiversity all their own. Funny enough, the reefs that lie between 150-450 feet of depth are called the coral reef twilight zone, and are some of the most poorly explored marine ecosystems. They're in that awkward area that's too deep for most scuba diving, but much shallower than submersibles are designed for.

Now, these twilight zone reefs are coming to represent a new frontier for coral reef research. Hopefully, that means we'll get to find out about a stream of discoveries in future years as these ecosystems are more thoroughly documented. In the meantime, we hope to see you aboard one of our Maui ocean cruises and tours, and if you want to learn more about these marine discoveries, you can check out the study in the Marine Biodiversity scientific journal. Mahalo!

Book this two night Maui experience for incredible savings on popular Maui activities. The first night of this amazing combo deal is a trip on our celebrated 'Maui Princess' Sunset Dinner Cruise and the second night is a traditional Hawaiian Luau at the Royal Lahaina Luau. Both of these experiences are must-do's on Maui and the opportunity to book them in combination for greater savings is a steal! Encountering a Hawaiian sunset while out on the Pacific Ocean enjoying views of the stunning West Maui Mountains as well as neighbor islands is phenomenal. A visit to Hawaii would not be complete without attending a Luau and the Royal Lahaina Luau promises authenticity and marvelous entertainment. Aboard the Maui Princess and attending the Royal Lahaina Luau, you will live like royalty for two nights!

The 'Maui Princess' Sunset Dinner Cruise departs from Lahaina Harbor on the large and stable Maui Princess yacht. Enjoy the twinkling stars and colorful Hawaiian sunset sky. Your ears will be entertained by musicians and your palette will be entertained by fine dining and excellent table service. You can even enjoy dancing under the stars during this enchanted evening.

Maui's longest running Hawaiian luau, The Royal Lahaina Luau is a traditional luau on Kaanapali Beach. During this evening, you will celebrate and learn about Polynesian culture, and dine on genuine island fare. The live entertainment will feature Polynesian inspired dances with a fantastic fire-knife finale! Enjoy all of the facets which make a Hawaiian luau so special at this top-rated Maui luau.

This Cruise-Luau combo package is a great deal for a two night Maui experience. These top companies will be bringing you world class entertainment and service. Take advantage of this outstanding combo deal today and make the most of your Maui getaway.

Have you ever noticed how you feel when you're near the ocean? Whether listening to its tumbling waves, gazing out onto its glistening blue surface, or breathing in its fresh scent, the ocean tends to have a soothing influence on most of us. Now, science is beginning to prove it.

Emerging evidence from medical studies is revealing the ocean's positive psychological influence in a way that can actually be measured in the chemicals of the human body. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, has been measured at reduced levels in those exposed to contact with the ocean. At the same time, subjects show an increased levels of seratonin, oxytocin and dopamine, which are the three primary feel-good chemicals produced in the human body.

What are the effects of these chemicals? The studies point to the dramatic benefits of ocean access programs on people suffering from a wide variety of psychological difficulties. These include veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, young women with low self-esteem, and youth struggling with various types of psychological pressure and other challenges.

We've already talked about the physical health benefits of the ocean, and it's nice to know that there are psychological benefits as well. Thanks in part to our isolation, we are lucky to have some very clean shorelines here in Hawaii, which also house a rich array of biodiversity that delights all the curious explorers who have ventured to our tide pools and reefs. If you haven't done this yet, just hop aboard our Molokini Snorkeling Tour or perhaps our Lanai Snorkeling Tour to see what fascinating marine life you can discover in its natural habitat. It's a great way to add fun to the laundry list of benefits you can enjoy from your ocean experience.

A healthy and diverse marine ecosystem is an integral part of our enjoyment of the ocean. That's one of the reasons why we support the research of some of Hawaii's finest marine scientists. All the profit from our gift shop sales is sent to these scientists so they can continue to carry out their important work. If we want the ocean to continue enhancing our health, then we need to enhance the health of the ocean in turn.