Pacific voyagers focus on ocean health

A team of voyaging canoes called vaka moanas docked in Halanei Bay on Kauai as part of an epic journey across the Pacific. Honoring their Polynesian ancestors—who loved and respected the sea—the stars, landscapes, ocean and wildlife were used as navigational tools. Solar powered engines made their voyage easier. It began on April 18, when seven canoes left the ports of New Zealand and Cook Island. Crews on the canoes represent Aotearoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The journey was filmed for an upcoming documentary called Vaka of Hope. In the documentary, the vakas are a metaphor for “a sustainable way of living and a respectful treatment of the ocean.”

The expedition is to draw attention to the desperate state of our oceans. Did you know that one out of every two breaths we take is from oxygen the ocean gave us? Unfortunately, she is beginning to sigh, and this voyage is an effort to get us to hear her cry. We have all heard about the two fields of trash larger than the state of Texas swirling in the Pacific, fossil fuel and sewage contamination, rising sea levels, and over fishing. Recent discoveries show subtle ways in which our oceans are dying.

Have you heard about noise pollution? Whales, dolphins and other marine life depend on sonar to “see” and communicate. Sound from oil and gas companies, man-made sonar and noise from ships transporting goods, contribute to a wall of non-stop noise mammals can’t escape. Acidification and rising ocean temperatures are additional threats to our ocean.

In June, the canoes docked in Honolulu for the Kava Bowl Ocean Summit 2011. The summit brought spiritual leaders, marine, social and neuro-scientists, visual and written storytellers, futurists, environmentalists and lawyers together, from all over the world, to brainstorm innovative ideas. After resting in Kauai for a week, the canoes travel to San Francisco, Alaska and finally Japan before heading back to New Zealand. We wish them success, our hope riding on the crest of their waves. If we destroy our oceans, we destroy ourselves.

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Posted by: Bruce Fisher