Year of the Limu event shares information on proper harvesting and cultural importance
More than 20 species of seaweed were on display at a Year of the Limu community celebration Friday. Visitors got the opportunity to see up-close, touch, and even sample some of the varieties.
This was just one of several events held throughout this “Year of the Limu” as designated by Governor Ige for 2022. The event at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo on Oʻahu engaged families to learn more about limu and different projects and partnership efforts taking place.
Members representing three different limu groups – Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea, KUA/Ewa Limu Project, and Waimanalo Limu Hui – were present at show-and-tell tables aimed to educate and inspire attendees about limu, from proper harvesting techniques and species identification to ecological and cultural importance.
Limu has many uses, including in food, medicine, traditional practices, and ceremonies. It serves as the base of the food chain in coastal ecosystems, providing fish, turtles and urchins with food, and small invertebrates with protection.
One limu variety, crustose coralline algae, contains calcium carbonate and is vital to coral reef structural integrity, growth, and resilience.
Event activities included a turtle release at Kaiona Beach, just one mile up the coast, limu-pressing, stamp art for children, and a behind-the-scenes, interactive limu tour led by expert limu practitioners.
Uncle Wally Ito, former KUA Limu Hui Coordinator, has been engaged in various efforts including cultivating limu in aquaculture tanks since 2005. He’s shared limu with groups involved in ecosystem restoration projects on Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi , Kauaʻi and Oʻahu. “The most important aspect of these projects, even more than the limu itself, is the people,” said Ito. “Getting the kids out of the house. Involving the kupuna. Some groups make dyes from the limu and even integrate hula into their efforts. It’s a community restoration, a Hawaiian cultural restoration.”
A resolution has been introduced by Limu Hui members to the legislature to designate limu kala as the official state limu for Hawaiʻi. “Our ancestors relied on it as an important, main component in their diet,” said Pam Fuji’i, KUA board member. “Traditionally, there were certain foods that were kapu to women and even across classes. Limu kala was able to be shared by everyone.”