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Jorja Murphy
HWF Intern - Fall 2014

Jorja Murphy, right, a marine science and conservation biology major, traveled from Australia in the fall of 2014 to intern with HWF. Part of her internship included a snorkeling expedition to Molokini Crater off Maui with HWF President Hannah Bernard.

"I had never seen water so clear and
was absolutely amazed when I first
opened my eyes under water! "

> After graduating high school in 2012, I went on to study Marine Science and Conservation Biology at University here in Australia. This was a simple choice for me as I have always had a love for the ocean and cared about the life within it. To then help me get a better idea of a specific career I could work towards, I decided to travel to Maui, Hawaii and complete an internship with Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF).

On the day of my arrival to Maui, I was straight into action. The last Honu nest was due for emergence so I spent my first night in Hawaii camping on the beach! We continued to camp for the following five nights, but unfortunately we came across no hatchlings. Once the maximum "due date" had passed, we decided to excavate the nest. What we came across was a big surprise to all of us empty eggs! The little Honu had decided to hatch early, before we even started camping! This was all very exciting and interesting for me. Regardless if I got to see babies or not, it was still a great experience to camp out and see how things are done.

During this week, there were many things to do during the day too. On my second day I went along for my first clean up at Ka'ehu beach. There were only a small number of us that turned up to clean, but together we managed to fill four very large rubbish bags with trash! This includes marine debris, such as nets and fishing line that comes from fishing boats in the northern pacific. The rest, for the most part, is general household wastes, including many plastics! Together Kiwa (from Japan), Cheryl, Hannah and myself spent the next few hours sorting, counting and placing every piece of trash into its corresponding category. Once we had finished, Cheryl would send off our data to certain organizations, such as "Sharktastics" to be analyzed further.

Many of the things we found had bite marks, which is evidence that the marine life are feeding off it. Through HWF's research and hard work they aim to stop things like this from getting worse. They have already helped in the ban of plastic bags on Maui, and are now working towards the ban of Styrofoam.

The next thing that became a regular activity for both Kiwa and myself was Honu Watch, which takes place at a beach on Maui where large numbers of green sea turtles come to bask every afternoon and often remain for the whole night. This is not a common behavior for the Honu. It has been for approximately the past nine years that HWF has recorded the Honu coming to bask in large numbers. So volunteers of Hawaii Wildlife Fund make their way down every afternoon to watch over the Honu and educate people, whilst making studies on the turtles and their behaviors. I feel that I have taken a lot away from engaging in this activity. I learned a great deal about the green sea turtles and how to educate others about them. I also walked away with a new perspective on true respect for animals. I will hold onto this and aim to share it with others back here in Australia.

One more project I was lucky enough to get involved in was the Traditional Taro Farming Project. Through this project I was educated by Uncle Oliver about traditional management and land-use. It took me into Maui's mountain rain forest to jump in the mud and learn about taro farming practices. This was a great experience!

Another great experience for me was snorkeling at Molokini Crater! I had never seen water so clear and was absolutely amazed when I first opened my eyes under water! I had so much fun with Hannah, learning about different species of fish and about the unfortunate coral bleaching (I was able to get some close shots of bleached coral that were sent off to scientists for analysis). I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given that day to see what I saw. What an awesome experience!

After two great weeks on Maui, I was lucky enough to spend my last two days on Lāna'i. Cheryl, Magda and myself went over originally to search for sea turtle activity, but we found no turtles and piles of rubbish instead! Our trip turned into a two-day cleanup on many of the beaches of Lāna'i. What we saw and what we found was insurmountable there was no way we could completely clean any of the beaches we visited, so we took what we could and still managed to have fun whilst doing so! A great way to spend my last two days as an intern for Hawaii Wildlife Fund.

After completion of my internship I feel I am walking away having learned so much! I have new perspectives, new knowledge and I am so motivated to get back into my studies of marine science. Throughout my internship I was treated so well and I'm grateful for the inspirational people I've met. I am going to do my best now to get involved in projects where I can make a difference here in Western Australia!

Mahalo HWF!

Taro Farming
Taro Farming
Beach Clean Up
Beach Clean Up
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