An Ocean of Discovery: NOAA and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Open New Educational Facility
By Sarah Marquis
Saturday, January 11, was a noteworthy day for ocean lovers on the island of Kaua‘i and beyond. More than 1000 people enjoyed opening day celebrations for Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery, presented by NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, in partnership with Kukui Grove Center.
Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery is a new educational facility that shares the traditions and knowledge of our ocean connections and inspires stewardship of its visitors.
“It’s places like this where communities can get together, connect to one another, and develop solutions,” John Armor, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director, said at the opening. “Moments like this give me hope for the future of the ocean our children and grandchildren are inheriting.”
The new facility is located in Kukui Grove Center in Līhu‘e on the island of Kaua‘i. Here, you can visit an underwater world through videos, interactive displays, and hands-on activities. Learn about humpback whales, or koholā, Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, albatrosses, and more. Take a tour of the extensive Hawaiian archipelago, including Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Hear the Hawaiian creation chant, Kumulipo, and see an original mural inspired by it.
“The ocean connects us all,” said Jean Souza, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary program specialist, who coordinates the facility. “That is Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery’s slogan, and the philosophy shared by everyone in our community and beyond who helped make this happen.”
The opening ceremony included the traditional blowing of the pū (conch shell), hula performed by students from a Hawaiian charter school, chants, and Hawaiian water protocol. After the ceremony, two performances of the family musical Honu by the Sea were enjoyed as part of the opening day festivities. Hundreds of children and adults toured Kamakai, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s inflatable, life-sized humpback. More than a dozen partner agencies and programs provided free activity stations for the large crowd throughout Kukui Grove Center for the all-day celebration.
Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday. All ages are welcome, and Keiki Corner provides ocean-themed fun for the little ones. Rotational exhibits feature community and student projects. Monthly and weekly special programs are offered.
Tuesday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery
Kukui Grove Center
3-2600 Kaumualii Hwy., Suite 1618
Sarah Marquis is the West Coast/Pacific media coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.