Local BYU-Hawaii students and faculty voice concerns as they see the changing coastline, a result of this past summer’s king tides.
“It is as if the ocean is angry,” said longtime resident of Laie and professor of Business Management, Helena Hannonen.
Hannonen said she has lived here for the past 11 years and has noticed changes in the shoreline during that time.
She said, “For example, when I first began swimming at Kekela Beach, there was a stump where me and my friends could leave our belongings while we swam. At the top of the beach there was the stump and then plenty of beach to spare before you hit the ocean.
“Now the ocean comes all the way up to the stump! In all my years here I have never experienced anything quite like this last summer.”
Local North Shore lifeguard of 15 years, Darrel Hannemann, said he hasn’t felt like this last year was as bad as the previous two, but said this year people are seeing the damage from the last two. Damage can be seen all along the highway on the way to Kaneohe.
He attributed the changes being seen across Hawaii as a part of the natural cycle of the earth, referencing the various places on the island where there is evidence the water level once was much higher.
Hannemann said, “I remember growing up and surfing a break here in Laie called Genigators. It was a really fun wave comparable to V-Land. Nowadays, this wave hardly ever breaks. We live in a dynamic world that is constantly changing and the change in the tides is one of these [changes].”
According to Honolulu Magazine, “king tide” is a term to describe the highest tides of the year that usually occur during the summer and winter months. Experts at the University of Hawai‘i Manoa say the April and May king tides are particularly special because of their abnormally large size.
Hannonen explained how her usual routine of swimming every morning has been disrupted because of the seemingly constant high tides, which have exposed the roots of the trees and taken many trees out into the ocean.
“Even the ocean floor has changed. What once was nice white sand has become rocky and uncomfortable to walk on,” she said.
Shez Hannemann, a sophomore from Laie majoring in business marketing, said, “Growing up in Hawaii, my family and I would often visit Malaekahana Beach Park because it wasn’t very busy but there was a lot of beach, perfect for laying out and building sand castles. Now you go and the water goes all the way up to the grass.”
He said the drastic changes in the shoreline make people consider the implications of global warming more and their impact on the environment.
NOTE: This story's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Oct. 2017 print issue.