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NOAA field day draws a crowd to mall

LIHU‘E — The theme was oriented toward Valentine’s Day taking place on Tuesday, but Mother Nature did not appear to get the message, as abnormally high, wind-driven surf pelted the eastern shores of not only Kaua‘i, but the state of Hawai‘i.

The natural flow of events, including the unannounced bouts of downpours, did not deter Kukui Grove Center shoppers from getting engaged in the Fall in Love with NOAA events presented by the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery center as part of the shopping center’s Valentine’s Day weekend activities.

The chance to make special Valentine’s Day cards presented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries was only the tip of the iceberg of hands-on activities designed for keiki, but being enagaged in by the keiki’s parents and other shoppers, whose intent on visiting the shopping center was not necessarily to visit the Fall in Love with NOAA booths.

“We were lucky,” said Jean Souza, the on-site manager of KOD. “NOAA Fisheries said they had enough of a surplus in their budget that they could support this activity with the Valentine’s Day cards and a visit by some of their Honolulu people.”

Keiki and adults participating in the “Community Resilience to Climate Change: Food, Homes, Livelihoods” station created “stormproof” house models that were designed to endure some of the severe storms like hurricanes.

Adults engaged in discussions about sea level rise after referring back to the oceanside highway in Hau‘ula, O‘ahu that collapsed under the weight of a passing truck last week on O‘ahu, and the recent threat of the ocean undermining the highway construction in Wailua.

“We’re lucky to have Kanesa Duncan Seraphin of the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant visit us and work with keiki,” Souza said. “Kanesa is the creator and producer of the ‘Voice of the Sea’ television show that airs locally and is popular with everyone. She even has YouTube videos of some of her earlier video work. Do you realize that Kanesa is Kaua‘i-based?”

Besides utilizing a Decorate a Shopping Bag station, the Surfrider Foundation Kaua‘i Chapter set up a marine debris exhibit that involved keiki and adults engaging in a game utilizing hagfish traps.

That station drew interest from the many people who remember the beached sperm whale and the report by experts attributing marine debris as a probable cause of death of the sperm whale, and the hagfish trap being among the debris found in the stomach of the deceased whale.

Other participating agencies included the Hawaiian monk seal group with its selfie station, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i, the whale entanglement program and more.

“This is a good gathering,” Souza said. “People were having fun, and even the kupuna volunteers were learning things they never realized was out there. The only problem was the rain. We never had any warning it was coming. And, it was coming from where it doesn’t normally come from. We never got our windows wet.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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