Sometimes the places we take our children to vacation allow them to more closely observe environmental changes than in our own backyards. Visiting a place year after year points out the differences that seem more gradual where you reside.
As a child, I visited Summit County, Colorado every winter. Over 30 years, I have seen this area devastated by mountain pine beetles and resort development. Unlike, Dylan Vecchione, my vacations did not spark environmental action.
12-year-old Dylan Vecchione has been visiting the Hawaiian island of Maui for five years. He noticed “the coral at the Kahekili Reef wasn’t looking so good”, so he began his own investigation and campaign.
Last summer, Vecchione and his father sailed around Maui and took pH samples of the water to determine if there was a pattern to areas that are more or less acidic. To their knowledge no one has tested the water away from shore.”
‘It is usually higher acidity, the closer you get to shore,’ Maurizio said, wondering if there was anything happening on shore that would justify that relationship. He noted that Maui has 15 county ‘injection’ wells. More than 14.6 million gallons of wastewater go into the sewer system, with about 11.4 million gallons reclaimed. The excess, which has solids and contaminants removed, is sent to injection wells that range in depth from 180 to 385 feet…
‘You can see that it is reef, then more reef, then bleached reef, and then the reef stops where the underground water comes out,’ Vecchione said.
Dylan has started his own website, written and distributed brochures, and had his surveys of Kahekili Reef included in the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) global Coral Watch database. His work is supported by “over 6,000 people from 23 countries”.
On his website ReefQuest, Dylan explains is experience:
Hi, my name is Dylan and I am 12 years old. I first fell in love with Coral Reefswhen I was given the opportunity to dive on the Kehikili Reef in Maui, Hawaii. I got to witness first-hand the incredible biodiversity that Coral Reefs contain. Occupying less than 1% of the world’s oceans, Coral Reefs host 25% of allmarine life. Over the years, returning to that reef I noticed negative changes on the reef due to environmental stresses. I was dismayed to learn that coral reefs are dying all over the world. If that were to happen it would be an ecological catastrophe as reefs’ ecosystems are deeply linked to the rest of the ocean.
I decided to do something about it! I founded ReefQuest to tell the story of Kahekili Reef, and model for kids everywhere actions they can each take to help marine habitats near them.
Dylan is truly inspiration to everyone that cares about the environment, no matter their age!