Each year the non-profit Whale Trust Maui puts on their Whale Tales benefit* to help fund some of the most groundbreaking field research of earth’s largest marine mammals. This week-long event brings marine experts (scientists, photographers, filmmakers, conservationists) together with thousands of residents and visitors they hope to excite, educate, inspire – and that they did!
Among the many whale watch excursions, our Raw Elements ambassador Jodelle Fitzwater (Get Fit with Jodelle) hosted a Guided Standup Paddle Tour, which we've been dreaming of attending. This was the year! Our small group paddled off shore Kihei for what seemed like miles (it was probably at least a few), when we suddenly heard loud sounds emanating from under the boards. There were whales in the distance, and we proceeded cautiously. We would let them come to us, if they felt like. At a certain point the energy seemed a bit much so we sat down – and thankfully so. Suddenly, whales were popping up on all sides. Bodies were shaking, heart chakras shattering, and we were all laughing and crying at once! What a difference being in the water with them while on a small SUP, compared to being on a boat (which is of course also amazing). It was truly an experience we'll never forget!
The main event took place at the gorgeous Ritz-Calton Kapalua. The Education & Art Expo featured some of the most amazing whale art and photography. You could speak one-on-one with local NOAA marine biologists, the people who make Maui Ocean Center one of the top 25 Best Aquariums in the USA. We manned a booth and met hundreds of people excited to learn about and try reef-safe, eco-safe Raw Elements. Considering the recent push for legislation in Hawaii to protect corals and sea life from toxic chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, it was good timing to be able to offer an alternative, particularly one that's truly water-resistant, all natural, with 23% zinc for those who need something that can handle the Hawaiian outdoor lifestyle.
There was an impressive list of presentations throughout the weekend including Robin Baird of the Cascadia Research Collective, Rachel Cartwright of The Keiki Kohola Project, Denise Herzing of the Wild Dolphin Project, Anke Kuegler of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Greg MacGillivray of MacGillivray Freeman Films, Ralph Pace (freelance underwater photographer), Daniel Palacios of the Marine Mammal Institute, Robert Pitman of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, and Hal Whitehead, joining Dr. Jim Darling, Dr. Meagan Jones Gray, Flip Nicklin and Jason Sturgis of Whale Trust Maui. This year also featured film screenings of Greg MacGillivray’s “National Parks Adventure” and fan-favorite “Humpback Whales”.
We're honored to have been one of the sponsors for this amazing event and look forward to next year. If you have a chance to attend, we highly recommend it. Mahalo Whale Trust!
* All monies raised at Whale Tales supports whale research efforts in the Hawaiian Islands, as well as an outreach and educational campaign that’s reached thousands of people including local schoolchildren in Hawai’i. If you’d like to attend future events, donate, or get involved go to: whaletrust.org