satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kure Atoll: Part of the `Ohana

Hawaiian Islands
Midway Atoll isn't the only island northwest of the populated Hawaiian Islands.  There's a whole chain of islands.  A few are rocky, but most are sandy atolls stretching for more than 1200 miles away from Honolulu.

About 30 million years ago a volcano was built over Hawai`i's hot spot.  No one was here to see it, but there must have been quite a show when the volcano finally erupted above the ocean's surface.  There would have been huge explosions of red-hot lava, clouds of seawater steam, and blobs of pumice shooting out in all directions.  Wow!

As millions of years passed, the volcano began to change; it slowly grew older and older.  The volcano was part of the Pacific Plate, a piece of the Earth's crust, and the Plate was moving away from the hot spot.  The volcano had no more lava building it, so it stopped growing.

Also, the wind, rain and ocean waves hit the volcano and began to break it down.  Incredibly huge chunks of the volcano, the size of buildings and bigger, broke off and tumbled into the depths of the ocean.  The volcano was getting smaller and smaller

But the volcano had developed a lei of coral around it.  As the volcano itself got smaller and smaller, the coral lei grew larger and larger.  The coral always grew enough to stay just below the ocean surface.

This drawing of an atoll represents both Midway and Kure Atolls
Finally the volcano disappeared beneath the sea surface, and coral sand started to fill in on top of it.  Seawater came in and formed a shallow lagoon.  The volcano had become what we call an "atoll."  And this 30-million-year-old atoll is Kure Atoll (say "cure-ay"), the oldest land mass in the Hawaiian Islands.  Kure is Midway's older sister, about 50 miles away to the northwest.

Kure Atoll is owned by the state of Hawai`i.  Jason Misaki and Syd Kawahakui, Jr. work in the state's Division of Forestry and Wildlife within the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR.)    Jason and Syd will spend 3 days on Kure to see for themselves that Kure is kept as natural a place as possible...that its resources are kept intact.

satellite view of Kure Atoll
Visiting Kure means a lot to Jason and Syd because both are kama`aina, born and raised in Hawai`i.  They truly are stewards of their homeland.  Jason comes from Kualapu`u, Moloka`i, and grew up in a family that worked for conservation on his island.  Jason earned a degree in botany with a minor in environmental studies at the University of Hawai`i, Mānoa.  He has the job of Wildlife Manager, and is supervisor of the Kure Atoll project.

Syd was born and raised in Waialua on O`ahu; he attended Kahuku High School, graduating from Kamehameha Schools.  He earned a double major at UH, Mānoa in Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language.  As a young man, Syd began 10 years of volunteer service with the Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana (PKO.)  He became what is called an Access Guide, or Kua.  Kua is the Hawaiian word for backbone.  Just as your backbone supports your whole body, so does a Kua support PKO.

Here's a picture of Jason (left) and Syd (right.)  The picture on the right shows Syd following proper Hawaiian protocol by blowing the pū (shell.)  The small boat will take them to NOAA's ship, Hi`ialakai, which is outside Midway Atoll in deeper water.  The ship will travel overnight, taking Jason and Syd to Kure.  They will take these 3 values with them:
  • aloha `aina (love of the land)
  • mālama `aina (taking care of the land)
  • ho`oulu `aina (re-growing the land)
Just as Kure and Midway are part of the Hawaiian chain, an `ohana of islands, so we people are an `ohana of stewards, or care-givers, for our land.  All our best wishes go with Jason and Syd!


Mrs P said...

Awesome Barb!

I wanna share this with my class. The story is so inspiring! My young ones need to know!

Barb said...

These 2 young men are definitely inspirational! While Syd and Jason were on Midway for a few days, waiting to catch the ship to Kure, they joined into the volunteer work. They took a share of the Laysan Duck botulism daily check, wrapped boluses, sorted and weighed marine debris...and generally just saw what needed doing, and did it!

I hope to get some info on their actual work on Kure, and if I do, I plan to do a follow-up FOAM post.