Maui News

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia Crew Survey Lalo’s Coral Reef

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Image courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society & update PVS President and navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Since arriving at Lalo – French Frigate Shoals – on Tuesday morning, the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crew members have been spending time underwater to conduct the first marine survey of the area since Hurricane Walaka swept through in 2018. 

The crew found that much of the large table corals are no longer there due to the destruction caused by the hurricane. At the same time, they discovered many small, fast-growing coral polyps that serve as building blocks for the big table corals.

“When we leave nature alone it will restore itself, and that’s really exciting to us,” said Pwo Navigator Nainoa Thompson.  “This is our school and we took it underwater today….it was another great day of allowing these canoes to be able to have the privilege to come here to train our young ones in the best school of navigation, defining islands over the horizon, and at the same time the best school to come and see and learn about how ecology actually works, and that how renewal actually works,” he said.

Image courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society & update PVS President and navigator Nainoa Thompson.

The underwater survey is being conducted in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

“Papahānaumokuākea is one of the greatest natural laboratories in the world” said  “The lessons we learn here will help us to better mālama the coral reefs of our inhabited main Hawaiian Islands. The highest and best uses of these islands also include perpetuation of Native Hawaiian culture by training the next generation of navigators and environmental stewards,” said Randy Kosaki, NOAA’s Research Coordinator for Papahānaumokuākea, who is participating on the voyage as a Hōkūleʻa crew member and to assist with the underwater survey.

The “Navigating the Kupuna Islands” Training Voyage is the second in a series of deep-sea training sails to prepare crew for the Moananuiākea Voyage, a circumnavigation of the Pacific scheduled to launch in May 2022.  The 42-month, 41,000 mile journey will cover 46 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and 345 ports. Focused on the vital importance of oceans, nature and indigenous knowledge, the goal of the Moananuiākea Voyage is to develop 10 million new crew members, navigators and leaders for the planet.


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