What is your personal relation to the marine WHS you represent?
The Aloha spirit will forever be a part of me. I have worked in partnership with Hawaii Volcano National Park along with several other Hawaiian ecological hot spots to study tropical ecology amongst the Islands. I have been privileged enough to study on the Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai. I attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, which is rich in Aloha spirit, hosting the largest Luau on the mainland. I have come to see that the aloha spirit can be found in the lava flow across Kalapana, creating new lifein Kealakekua Bay, communities gathering together to re-plant Lohala Mountain, the vast cliffs and beaches of Waipi’o Valley, all the way to the marine preserves of Oahu. Papahaumokuakea represents more than just one marine preserve; it represents all of the Hawaiian islands, Papahaumokuakea reminds me of Ohana or family; I will forever and always have a connection to the incredible people I have met on the Hawaiian Islands.
What are the specific problems and threats of your marine WHS?
Disparity between people’s daily habits and the needs of the environment is the largest threat to the Papahaumokuakea World Heritage site. This lack of thoughtfulness and connection to the places we live and the resources sustaining us is threatening the biodiversity and health of this intrinsic ecosystem. People are not making the connection that what happens in their backyards affects the marine habitat as well. The run-off created from laundry detergent, carwash water, plastic bags and other debris in the ocean affects the health of the ecosystem by introducing toxins, affecting salinity and, overall, creating a habitat unsuitable for many species. Not only does the health of the island affect the rich diversity within Papahānaumokuākea,more specifically, “”Entanglement in marine debris has been identified as a major threat to the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal; debris entanglement also threatens sea turtles, seabirds, cetaceans and coral reef organisms”" (Papahaumouakea.gov). Our lack of concern for our ecosystems as a whole has created a global effect that can be seentoday in climate change. Overuse of Papahaumokuakea for fishing and recreationby man (both native and non-native) poses a gravethreat to the health of this site. Protection of this site and knowledge of its importance are key in maintaining Papahaumouakea’s rich ecosystem.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your marine WHS?
Papahaumokuakea is more than just a marine sanctuary; it has deep cultural roots, representing the highest concentration of ritual sites in Hawaii. “”Papahanaumokuakea is believed to lie within the place where life originates and to which it returns”"- USFWS. This ideology is not only represented in the cultural heritage of the site but in the array and abundance of species present there. Papahaumokuakea hosts one of the world’s largest tropical bird rookeries, and the biodiversity in the region is known for an unprecedented amount of top-tier predators, such as monk seals, sharks and other large mammals. In a way, this site is flipping the food chain upside down. Over 7,000 marine and terrestrial species are known to be present in this area. Papahaumokuakea is more than just a site for biodiversity; it is an example of Mother Nature’sprevalence. The great ancestors of this archipelago understood the significance of this site, and it is now our duty to learn and uphold the cultural and historical traditions of safeguarding it. Join me in preserving this pristine marine habitat.