Today was unlike anything we had done so far! We woke up earlier than usual, had a quick breakfast and were off by 07:45 to Kane’ohe bay to do some service work at the He`eia fish pond! We started by getting a little bit of history about the pond and learned that it was an 800 year old Hawaiian oh aloha ‘aina, or term used to describe a place respected by Native Hawaiians; and crucial for carrying-on culture. We then trudged around the pond, through thick and deep mud, to get to the spot where we were doing the bulk of our work (this was the high and low for some of us; shoutout Siobhan).
From about 08:45 to 12:00, we worked on expanding a creek with shovels, deweeding the road, clearing invasive plant species from the area, removing mangroves, and ending with a little bit of coral heavy-lifting and jenga. We stopped to take a break in the shade and learned even more about this special place, and why it is so necessary to maintain it. My favorite part was learning about how the mountains, valleys, creeks, fish pond, ocean, and humans are all greatly connected. Each part of the natural world protects the other, and the neglect and destruction from humans to these complex systems damage our environment in ways that are hard to even begin to comprehend: here is an article with a little bit more background to the pond!
After a long but rewarding morning, we were so lucky to receive a delicious traditional Hawaiian meal of poi and pork (or for the vegetarians, veggie luau). This experience was truly incredible; we loved being able to give back and contribute to improvement, all while deepening our own understandings of the community. Thank you He`eia for having us!
We next headed back to HPU to learn about weather in Nautical Science, start brainstorming for our research papers in Reef, and practice for our Reef Surveys in POR! Dinner was leftovers (YUM), and full of laughs from some slap-happy students. We ended the night with Reef Survey prep for Monday's excursion, so that we could have tomorrow's free day be truly FREE!
I think I can speak for all of us when I say we're sleepy, well-fed ;), and loving every minute of being here.
Sending love home to San Francisco <3
Stella Jaunich, CU Boulder
Photo credit: Photograph courtesy of Bruce Lum, Kamehameha Schools