Ka ‘Ohana O Honu’apo motto is three fold: malama ‘aina (care for the land), kupono (honesty) and kuleana (responsibility). The organization was formed to help steward the land at the old village site of Honu’apo (literally caught turtle) after the community banded together to raise monies to purchase the land to ensure it was not developed after this almost occurred in 2003. Honu’apo is now owned and co-managed by a number of organizations, with Ka Ohana O Honu’apo often representing the voice of cultural preservation. Today, members of this organization helped the combined malama / ohana outing group to navigate the cultural, historical and environmental significance of this special place.
We began our day by learning how to introduce ourselves in Hawaiian and learning some Hawaiian words that are significant to the area. This was followed by a tour around the park which showed us evidence of both the human and environmental impacts that have helped to shape the local landscape. Some examples include the need for human and commercial transportation that built the pier and the earthquakes and tsunamis that helped to destroy it, and which washed away the black sand beact that once lined the coast. Another is the coconut grove and the remains of the old stone wall that sits in the shadows of the trees, and which once closed this estuary off as a fish pond. We also learned about the many different uses for the niu (coconut) tree and the lauhala plant.
After learning a mele (song) by Keola Beamer (pupu hinuhinu – shiny shell) and having a snack, we headed to the muliwai (estuary) which was once a loko i’a (fishpond). Only half of the wall that once made this estuary a fishpond still exists and Ka ‘ Ohana O Honu’apo and NOAA are working to restore the area as muliwai. There we learned about ways of testing water for salinity, visibility and ph. We were then able to get in the water to run transect lines and record the fish we encountered.
As this is the season when the humpback whale as in Hawaii to mate and calve, so of us were lucky enough to see whale surfacing throughout the day. Over lunch we talked about the amazing journey the whales make to Hawaii and back without eating, as their main food source, krill, does not live here. We also learned about the great pacific garbage patch, the effects of this human made phenomenon on wildlife, and the importance of picking up trash. We concluded our day with a beach clean up and filled 2 trash bags with debris, both that which had washed in from the ocean and some that we saved from making it there in the first place. This gave us the opportunity to spread out along the shore, see more whales and do our part to keep this rich place so beautiful.