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Subject: White House Pool Report No. 4

 

White House Pool Report No. 4

Dec. 31, 2013

Honolulu, Hawaii 96825

 

At 10:47am, the First Family arrived at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for a New Year’s Eve Snorkeling expedition. The heavily visited reef is normally closed on Tuesdays, so this has often been the day that the Obamas have visited during their winter vacations here in Oahu. It’s about 10 miles east of Waikiki.

 

Since 1990, the city and county have been trying to restore the health of the reef – limiting the number of visitors after a time when they allowed some 3 million a year, creating substantial damage to the ecosystem. Hanauma Bay was created by lava flows that began about 40,000 years ago, but the area also has some of the most recent volcanic activity on Oahu. The Bay itself was formed about 32,000 ago by a volcanic vent underwater and is now “a flooded crater,” according to materials at the Visitor Center.

 

The Obamas will be snorkeling in an area with many varieties of coral—colonies include finger coral, mushroom coral and cauliflower coral. Common creatures spotted within the reef are Yellow Tang, Raccoon Butterflyfish, parrotfish, the oval squid, the divided flatworm and the Christmas Wrasse. There are also Green Sea Turtles, known as “honu,” and the Obamas released four of them into the ocean in 2011 (the turtles were 18 months old by that point had been born and raised in captivity at nearby Sea Life Park).

To get to Hanauma Bay, the motorcade followed the Kalanianaole Highway south to Waimanalo, passing the turnoff for Bellows Air Force Station (where the Obamas went to the beach last week), as well as a small cattle ranch and several neighborhoods of modest ranch-style homes. Colorful laundry hanging on the line dotted many of the backyards, and horses grazed next to several of the homes near the road. Ikaika Hussey of Reuters, who lives here on Oahu, passes along that much of the land comprising the neighborhoods of Waimanalo was set aside for the housing of native Hawaiians.

 

On the final portion of the trip with the Pacific Ocean on the left side, we passed a small petting zoo where lambs were nuzzling up against the fence beneath a sign that said “Mele Kalikimaka,” the traditional “Merry Christmas” greeting in Hawaii. A little farther along, a man was walking a donkey back toward the direction of the petting zoo. The Motorcade also passed the always busy trailhead up to Makapu’u Point, which looks down on spectacular crescent of beach beneath the 1909 Makapu’u Lighthouse. There is also a small beach at Hanauma Bay where tourists often rest between snorkeling trips along the reef.

 

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Maeve Reston

Los Angeles Times

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