We were glad to get all of the family out of Waikiki and Ala Moana waters by July 13, 10 days after the full moon. That’s when the stinging box jellyfish ( Carybdea alata ) begin showing up in local waters.
It’s one more thing to worry about with little grandkids cavorting about in the water, although I don’t recall the prevalence of box jellyfish when I grew up in Hawaii or when my children played in Hawaii waters.
More of a threat when growing up was the prevalence of the Bluebottle “Portuguese man-of-war” after a patch of rough weather. Get stung by one of those and you’ll always remember to keep your swim shorts dry on the days they’re in the water.
The earth’s climate is changing and jellies are on the increase in the world’s oceans so maybe that’s why box jellyfish are now prevalent in Hawaii waters.
On the other hand, the state has eliminated its rat control program due to budget constraints, leaving the rat abatement policing in Waikiki to the city and citizens. Less control, more Waikiki rats, the local paper reported last weekend ( “Waikiki's rodent woes city, citizens take lead in Rat control “) .
Both box jellyfish and rats are bad for the tourism business— but visitor counts are up both from eastbound and westbound. And the influx of newly-minted Chinese tourists is on its way. I think the early Saturday morning crowd at the highly reputed farmers market at Kapiolani Community College was more than 50 percent Japan nationals.
Of course, very little between the Zoo and Ala Moana Center is real. Box jellies and rats are real. Maybe there’s still a bit of the real island under the banyan at the Pink Lady or in a corner of her lobby where for a few quiet moments you can sense what a magical place this south shore was for the natives and the locals and the visitors before tourism became a business.
Las Vegas, Disneyland, Safeco Field, the Washington State Fair— there are lots of places I go that are not real, where I trade some dollars for a few hours or days of entertainment. If I get good value, I’m satisfied. People get paid, investments recouped. I will still watch out for jellyfish and rats.