Dolphins + Evidence of Climate Change

Dolphins + Evidence of Climate Change

I have so much love and respect and stoke for the ocean and those that call it home —

Shot these a couple weeks ago during an outreach boat trip on assignment with National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (where I work as a communications and outreach coordinator), and I was really hoping to see humpback whales, but we were met by this playful pod of dolphins instead, so I was a very a happy gal.

Who doesn’t get giddy when they see dolphins playing in the wild?! Nobody!! These charismatic marine mammals are always so fun to watch. They look like they’re dancing, so free in mother nature. They inspire me to live the same way.

These are spinner dolphins, and they approached our charter boat while we were filming at Fagatele Bay. I couldn’t quite get them jumping fully out of the water because they’re so fast.

But also, how striking are these landscapes/seascapes of Fagatele, Fagalua/Fogma’a, and the far side of Aunu’u?!

This is Fogama’a cove, as seen from the ocean.

And this is the back side of Aunu’u, where you can see the crater mouth of this volcanic island. This specific area is associated with the local Legend of Sina and Tigilau.

You can really see the effects of climate change on the island of Aunu’u in the photo below, where the road on the west coast has completely eroded, and you can see tree roots exposed to waves from rising sea levels and subsidence.

It makes me sad to recall hiking along that path just a few years ago and now it’s basically gone and the shrubbery is just hanging on by their roots.

While I’m very happy to see dolphins, I really hope I can see the whales soon! It’s their season for migrating from Antarctica and as they pass through, they usually mate or give birth in these tropical waters. A colleague shared that the ocean temperature has risen a couple degrees (!!) and that’s not a good sign for whales. So keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes peeled on the ocean for whale sightings! I’ve already asked my husband if we could spend some time on the cliffs out west to watch for whales. Maybe we’ll make a picnic date out of it… I’ll report back if I get to see them!

Sending lots of love and warmth and sunshine to wherever you are.

xo, Nerelle

Earth Day wave

Earth Day wave

Talofa and taeao manuia from American Samoa!

It’s Earth Day 2019 and we started our morning bright and early with something we call a “wave”. The wave was coordinated by AS EPA, and majority of the island’s environmental agencies (American Samoa National Park Service, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Coral Reef Advisory Group, Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources, Department of Education, S.T.E.A.M. committee) and a couple of student climate advocacy clubs joined in on the wave. Our congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, and Miss American Samoa Magalita Johnson were also there waving along with us. It was great to see everyone coming together to celebrate our Earth.

Now “what’s a wave?” you might ask. It’s something that I realize is actually kind of unique to Samoa, usually to bring awareness to something – in this case, Earth Day. A group of people will stand on the side of the road with big colorful signs, and literally wave at drivers and passersby. This gathering will yell things like “Happy Earth Day!” and “Say no to styrofoam!” to get the message across. It’s normally done about 7am on the main road to get the most visibility during the commute to work and school. There’s also typically loud music blaring to encourage good vibes, and you can tell the vibe is right when people are dancing, smiling, and waving, eliciting generous honks to further promote those good vibes. And it’s a lot of fun!

How did you celebrate Earth Day?