Water Chemistry and Hawaiian Exploration

We had a short week, because we just got back from our second block break. We spent the four precious days of relaxation exploring and (some of us) reconnecting with our families. A small part of our Ohana also got scuba certified with our good friends at Blue Wilderness! They had a blast visiting a whole new world up close and personal with the honu (sea turtles), the coral reefs, and everything in between.

Wednesday, we got back into biogeochemistry with Kumu Lou. One of the highlights was traveling to Onomea and getting the chance to take a dip in one of the beautiful stream pools. Most importantly, we collected some water samples to add to our collection! We spent the day collecting water samples and exploring our island home more, including a stop at the Wailuku River.

Our second day back was spent in our “backyard” on Kohala volcano. Although she’s not active, she’s still giving us trouble with her steep, rocky road! We needed four wheel drive vehicles to get us up to our test sites. Our day included stream sampling and checking our data loggers. From the loggers, we are gathering data on temperature, humidity, etc. in the soil. We are so lucky to be able to do real science in such a beautiful place! The view from Kohala is incredible; you can see the ocean as well as the snow-capped Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The cows who live in Kohala pastures get to enjoy some pretty prime real estate!

On Friday, we went down to Kona to take water samples. We got a bunch of different samples from different areas in a boat harbor and also from several anchialine ponds. The anchialine ponds were particularly interesting, especially getting to see the famous red pond shrimp. In Hawaiian, they are known as ‘opae ‘ula. These shrimp are able to live under the intense stress of fluctuating salinity, which is incredible to see. At the end of our water collecting, we got the chance to go swimming on a beautiful nearby beach. The highlight for me, of course, was seeing some sea turtles on the beach. It is always a delight to see honu sunning themselves and enjoying the beach as much as we do.

We got a special treat on Saturday by getting to go to Queen’s Marketplace in Waikoloa to watch two of our Dryland forest Kumu (teachers), Uncle Keoki and Aunty Yvonne, perform music. It was an interesting cultural experience for the whole class to listen to Hawaiian music while sitting in a shopping mall. Although they could avoid the tourist areas, Uncle and Aunty choose to sing there because it is a great outlet for their music and messages. We had a wonderful time listening to them, and were happy to support a pair of people that have helped to develop our understanding of conservation and Hawai’i.
– Caroline


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