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Friday, November 17, 2006

Foto Friday: Blue Hawaii

Yes, AGAIN, Hawaii. (No opportunities for scanning this week.) And what's more, the odds are good that there'll be more. So just choke it down.

Kahoolawe and Molokini from Wailea, Maui
Sep. 2003

The large island is Kahoolawe (pronounced Ka-ho-o-LA-way). This is the smallest of the eight main Hawaiian islands. It doesn't have any fresh water, and so is uninhabitable.

That wasn't always the case, though. The last four paragraphs on this page cite a timeline for human settlement of Kahoolawe. The author of the timeline suggests that the interior of the island (which is higher and rainier) was well-settled for about 150 years, during which agriculture changed the "rather fragile" environment, resulting in "ecological disruption" and "island-wide degradation".[1] (Note, when reading that, that Polynesians did not arrive in Hawaii until around 1000 AD.)

Anyhow, by the time the Europeans came, the human population was reduced to some temporary fishing settlements. Since then it's been used as a penal colony for men (punishing such crimes as theft, murder, and Catholocism), as well as a ranch. During WWII, Kahoolawe was used as a naval gunnery range. Recently, the Navy was supposed to have been cleaning it up to render it fit for human traffic, but last I heard they were way behind, and unexploded ordnance still litters some beaches.

The ultimate goal is to clean the place up and restore the native vegetation, but commercial use will be prohibited (according to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve site, linked above). The island will be kept as an archaeological site, and as a place where native Hawaiians can carry out spiritual practices. I'm not sure what part of Kahoolawe has any special sacred signficance.

You can take a virtual field trip with a group doing a restoration project here.

Now, if you look at the waterline below the hump of Kahoolawe, you can see a sliver of orange-ish rock. That's Molokini, the remains of a volcanic crater that lies between Maui and Kahoolawe. It's a very popular snorkeling area (I haven't had a chance to snorkel there). Here's a nice aerial picture showing the tour boats at anchor, and this page includes several close up photos. They must have been taken in or near the rainy season, since the island is pretty green. If you look at the large version of my photo, above, you'll see the white speck of a boat inside the crater.

[1] I blame Bush.

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