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2008 Papahanaumokuakea Maritime Heritage Expedition
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Mission info 2007 Nancy Foster Cruise
 

Mission Blog: August 9, 2008
Meet The Traditional Ecological Knowledge Team

By Hi'ilei Kawelo

As a multi-disciplinary cruise, we share the boat, lab, and living space on the Hi’ialakai  with 4 research teams.  Today’s blog is written by a member of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) team and describes their mission on the cruise. Hi’ilei Kawelo, Gary Oamilda, and Monument Permit Coordinator Hoku Johnson joined us today on the shipwreck of the whaler Pearl, as the archaeology team conducted a monitoring dive.  Having the TEK team with us reminds us that the shipwrecks of the Monument are more than just relics of our maritime past, but they also serve as vibrant artificial reefs.

The Traditional Ecological Knowledge team: Hoku Johnson, Hi'ilei Kawelo, and Gary Oamilda

The Traditional Ecological Knowledge team: Hoku Johnson, Hi'ilei Kawelo, and Gary Oamilda

The Traditional Ecological Knowledge team is made up of Gary Oamilda from Ka’u, Hawai’i, and Hi’ilei Kawelo of Kahalu’u, O’ahu.  Traditional Ecological Knowledge is knowledge that is accumulated by an individual or ‘ohana (family) through generational relationships between people and place. 

Gary Oamilda is a member of a non-profit organization called KUPA, based in Ho’okena, Hawai’i.  KUPA seeks to rekindle or reestablish a knowledge base of Hawaiian traditions, specific to Ho’okena, Hawai’i.  Gary’s project during this NOAA Hi’ialakai cruise is to observe reef habitats and assemblages in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in order to better manage the fishery of Ho’okena.

Hi’ilei Kawelo is an 8th generation fisher of Kane’ohe Bay, O’ahu. She serves as executive director of Paepae o He’eia, a non-profit that cares for He’eia Fishpond.  Hi’ilei’s project is to develop a cultural reef assessment model, specific to Kane’ohe Bay, using her observations in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument as a reference.

Hoku dives down to take a closer look at one of the trypots on the Pearl site.

Hoku dives down to take a closer look at one of the trypots on the Pearl site.

So far, during their first week at sea, Gary and Hi’ilei have snorkeled in depths of 3 to 40 feet at Mokupapapa (French Frigate Shoals) and Holoikauaua (Pearl and Hermes Reef).  In comparison to the main Hawaiian Islands, what they’ve observed is the presence of many large apex predators, such as Ulua (Giant Trevally) and Lalakea (White Tip Sharks).  Also noted by the TEK team is an absence of He’e (octopus), despite the optimal habitat in the region. Their theory is that due to heavy predation, he’e are either eaten or seek the protection of a harder substrate.  Could it be that in the main Hawaiian Islands our he’e are more numerous and able to inhabit a wide variety of substrate types because of the lack of apex predators?

To ask us questions, you can email the team at: sanctuaries@noaa.gov and we will answer your questions within the blog, or in a live internet broadcast later in the cruise. Again, stay tuned for details.

 

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