Since 1996, Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) has actively protected native wildlife. The nonprofit is dedicated to the conservation of Hawaii’s marine wildlife including monk seals, turtles, and dolphins, as well as cleaning the marine debris off our beaches. “Our mission is to engage communities and volunteers in educational outreach, marine debris removal, conservation, research and advocacy,” said Hannah Bernard, HWF Executive Director. “We believe that restoring the health of our natural world is essential.”
Currently, the main focus of HWF is on coastal and marine wildlife species such as the hawksbill sea turtle (honu’ea) and the Hawaiian green sea turtle (honu). “We are passionate about protecting our beloved honu and honu’ea,” Bernard explained. “All monitoring and excavation activities are carried out by trained HWF biologists and volunteers operating under endangered species permits with state and federal agency partners. We encourage those who want to help with our work to let us train them to do it properly. Going strong for over 20 years, we have protected more than 10,300 hatchlings and the reward never gets old!”
Throughout the years, HWF staff and volunteers have hauled over 360 tons of debris off beaches and surrounding coastline, including fishing nets so heavy that they needed a winch placed on a truck to lug the material from the shore. Bernard noted, “The plastic in the ocean is a global threat to the health of our oceans. Our main concern is that beaches be safe for both our community and wildlife. We can do something about plastics by reducing our consumption of plastic products, recycling and disposing them in landfills.”
During the Covid pandemic, HWFs environmental education mentors worked hard to convert all their hands-on youth programs to virtual platforms. Funded by a NOAA grant, they introduced topics such as Hawaiian coastal ecosystems, biology, and marine debris impact and solutions. Bernard said, “Teaching our next generation to protect our environment is vital. Students often find new ways to make a difference. Our education programs are available free to all community members. We need unified island communities that really want to help protect Hawaii’s wildlife.”
Hannah Bernard, HWF Executive Director
By volunteering, interning, and donating, the community can help keep Hawaii’s wildlife free and healthy for generations to come.