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Celebrating World Oceans Day early

LIHU‘E — The United Nations World Oceans Day is celebrated Wednesday, June 8, and the calendar of events on Kaua‘i is filling with things to do to celebrate and become aware of the impact of human actions on the ocean.

“World Oceans Day is a special day to call attention to the ocean,” said Jean Souza, the on-site manager for the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery in Kukui Grove Center, and a program specialist with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “In Hawai‘i, we are surrounded by the ocean, and we are in the ocean daily. Every day should be Oceans Day.”

The Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery was getting a head start on World Oceans Day with its make-it-and-take-it honu jigsaw puzzle activity, getting the help of new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration intern Abigail Seibel, who arrived with the help of the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship.

“Wednesday we’ll be celebrating the start of the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery summer hours of being open from noon until 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays,” Souza said. “And we will still have the free make-it-and-take honu jigsaw puzzles.”

Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, KGC special events coordinator, said Tuesday’s Toddler Tuesday will take on an ocean theme with the appearance of either Flounder or Baby Shark starting at 11 a.m. with the Showtime Characters.

“World Oceans Day is Wednesday, and the Kaua‘i Society of Artists’ popular Fourth annual Washed Up Marine Debris Show ends June 10 at 7 p.m.,” said Renee Palmer, the KSA president, in her newsletter.

“This year’s Washed Up show stretched the imagination while shining a light on the issue of marine debris on our beaches and in our oceans. A perfect opportunity to view the exhibit would be on Wednesday when the Kukui Grove Center plans events around the importance of caring for oceans and marine life.”

The Fourth annual Washed Up Marine Debris Show, co-sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation, is open from noon until 6 p.m., and special Friday hours from noon until 7 p.m. at the KSA gallery in KGC.

Live, in-person events will be presented by The Storybook Theatre of Hawai‘i and the Dolphin Touch Wellness Center in Kapa‘a Wednesday starting at 3 p.m. and runing until 7 p.m.

The afternoon will feature activities, special guests, ocean creature coloring, inflatables, stories, and a costume parade with refreshments.

At 5 p.m., a special “Story of Jonah” from inside Harmony the Whale will take place. Pre-registration is required for the Zoom story at studio@storybook.org.

Beyond World Ocean Day, the Hawai‘i State Public Library System is hosting the 2022 Ocean of Possibilities summer reading challenge that started June 4 and runs through July 30, where the grand prize is a roundtrip for four provided by Alaska Airlines.

Registration can be done online at librarieshawaii.org/summerreading, or at any public library, for the program that offers different ocean themes weekly and special incentives and premiums at milestone hours. On registering, reading challengers will receive a “Be Our Guest” McDonald’s coupon for a free snack.

“My colleagues collaborated with the library for this summer reading challenge, where readers can get replica posters of the banners in the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery,” Souza said.

So how do you get interested in the ocean when you’re born and raised where there are no oceans and go to school in an area where there are no oceans, like Siebel, who is majoring in computer technology and minoring in water science?

“I was born in the middle of a 15-year drought in New Mexico,” Seibel said. “With all the strain on water, I developed a fascination for it. The ocean is an extension of water.”

Working for a railroad company as a programming engineer in the Midwest, Seibel said this is her second trip to Hawai‘i under the NOAA Hollings scholarship program. Her first trip was to Hawai‘i Island, where she got introduced to the ocean, and her trip to Kaua‘i is for the purpose of education and outreach.

“I just want to create science, technology, engineering and math opportunities for the young people out there, to have the kind of help that wasn’t available to me while I was growing up,” Seibel said.

The Hollings Scholarship program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance to a $9,500 ceiling per year, for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full time paid (up to $700 per week) internship at a NOAA facility during the summer.

The application period for the 2023 year will open on Sept. 1.

“Abigail’s job at the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery was to make activity kits for keiki to use,” Souza said. “She’s already gotten ahead of herself and created a bunch of kits. But the scholarship and internship? That’s very interesting because even Kaua‘i people are eligible.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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