Now you seaweed, now you don’t

FIRST PHOTO: Waiehu’s Amy Hodges (with headband) looks toward California’s Gwen Hunter while gobbling her way to winning the Seaweed Eating Competition at the Ridge to Reef Celebration and 5th Birthday Bash for the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area Saturday at Kahekili Beach Park in Kaanapali. Hodges downed a pound of seaweed in 6.5 minutes to claim the women’s title in the second annual event. Also participating were Krista Woodward (from right) of Lahaina, Anna Nielsen of Makawao and Tegan Hammond of Haiku. This event featured an ocean-themed culinary contest, a reef snorkel tour with ocean experts, the Great Annual Fish Count, water quality sampling, a CFL light bulb exchange, interactive learning activities for keiki, a T-shirt giveaway and a potluck. The fisheries management area was designed to enhance the population of herbivores – animals that eat seaweed, such as surgeonfish, parrotfish and sea urchins – in the area to reduce excess algae (seaweed or limu) and improve coral health.

SECOND PHOTO: Lahaina’s Brian Whitworth (from left) can only look on and marvel as men’s winner Jon Burden of Wailuku shovels in his final bite of seaweed in Saturday’s competition. Burden downed 1.25 pounds of seaweed in 3 minutes, 40 seconds to take first place. “You just swallow. You don’t chew,” Burden said. “That’s the secret.” Also participating are Josh Bajadali, Charlie Dofa and P.J. Galapon.