Monday, 30 November 2009

Visiting the S'klallam


I was lucky enough to go along with Ron to the Port Gamble S’klallam tribal reservation. Ron has visiting the S’klallam people to work with them on the book history project. I visited the library with Fred. All libraries are important, but this one is extra special as it is the very first public library on an Indian Reservation in America.

I would have loved to find out more about these people and the way they live, but my visit had to be very short. You can find out more about the Port Gamble S’klallam people by visiting this website  There is lots of information about how they live, their history and culture.

Art and stories are very important part of S’klallam culture. Stories and art can belong to a family and/or the Tribe. I hope one day that I might get to send more time with the S’klallam people and maybe share stories.

Ron has written a story called Seya’s Song which also has come beautiful illustrations by Constance Bergum

Next time you hear from me I will be in Spokane, also in Washington State

Bye for now, Ed

Saturday, 28 November 2009

S’Klallam tribe


Ron told me today about some very special humans, the S’Klallam tribe who I might be able to meet while I am here. Sadly, the S'Klallam people have been displaced from much of their former homeland, but they do still live on traditional place. Ron said that when he travels around the US it is always sad to know of what happened to other original people that were not so lucky.

Ron said there are many tribes, infact there are many living in about a 50 mile circle from his home. There are Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, Skokokomish, Tulalip, Jamestown S'Klallam, Elwha S'Klallam, Duwamish, lots of tribes. The original people, their culture and the way they live influences the work that Ron is doing. He said “I gather a heck of a lot of why I do what I do from and with them”.

Ron’s told me his family has been close to S'Klallam people for way more than a century and it is fun to look at historic photos and see how his family fit into the lives of the original people here. Infact Ron has been working with them on a history book project for three years now.

My buddy Steve did some work on Amazon Rainforest and got to meet some Amazonian People who came over to the UK because of all the damage caused to rainforests. This was a long time ago before I meet Steve. A main problem is cutting down all the trees, but problems with rainforest are also linked to global warming.

Bye, Ed

Friday, 27 November 2009

Fred the Monkeys' Museum of Endangered Hawaiian and Ocean Animals

Fred is really busy down under. Fred has started a new website called the Museum of Endangered Hawaiian and Ocean Animals. Fred will be placing regular messages about endangered animals

I have checked it out already and it is a great site. This is so much better than a museum filled with stuffed animals that once lived and are now extinct. What is better still is that these animals are still alive - well for now anyway. Its also great to see all these amazing humans that are doing their very best to make sure that these animals are around for future generation. Lots of inspiration. People have gotta help and take responsibility once they have visited Fred's museum.

All I can say is "Fred, just keep doing what you do best"

You can visit Fred's museum at

Bye, Ed

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Severe storms at Marrowstone Island

The weather has been very bad, with severe storms. I was going to go out to the beach with Ron, but the weather was dangerous (especially for a small bear like me. Ron helped rescue a boat that had been torn free of its mooring. On the way home in his car, Ron had to avoid hitting a runaway dog that had been scared by the storm.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Return to Marrowstone Island.


Back in Marrowstone Island with Fred and Ron. Helped Fred with beach cleaning, but he is soon off to Australia. I will stay here with Ron for a while before travelling to Spokane which is also in Washington State.

Bye, Ed

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Hawaiian words and culture


Its time to leave Kauai and go back to Marrowstone Island with Fred and Ron. I have had a great time on this most beautiful of Islands with its friendly people with such great hearts.I hope I will get a chance to return again sometime. I have learned so much during my stay here.

As well as learning about the Hawaiian culture I have also learned some Hawaiian words.

Here are a few.
One of the first words I learned was Kuleana, meaning responsibility. The word for Oceans is Kai. These two words together have great meaning for the Hawaiian people, for Fred and now for me also.

Malama i ke kai means to “care for or protect the ocean,” a very important Hawaiian value that dates back over centuries. I hope the children back in the UK will have the opportunity to learn about the respect the Hawaiian people have for the oceans.

Even though the oceans and land seem very seperate they are linked together in many ways, such as the water cycle. The oceans also control our climate. So I have also learned this sentence as well Malama i ke kai ame ka 'aina  which means "protect the ocean and land"

These are also words that I have learned from the Hawaiin people that are also an important part of the Hawaiian culture.

Ha'aha'a (humility)
Lokomaika'i (generosity)
Ho'okipa (hospitality)
Ho'omana (spirituality)
Wiwo (obedience)
Akahai (Kindness)
Ho'omanawanui (patience)
Ho'okuku (competitiveness)
Alaka'i (leadership)
Kupono (honesty)

Hawaiin words are pronounced differently too, not easy for a bear to get the hang of.  Here are the vowels and how they should be pronounced.

A is pronounced “ah”

E is pronounced “eh”

I is pronounced “ee”

O is pronounced “oh”

U is pronounced “oo”

W in the Hawaiian language sounds like the letter “V” in the English language.

Fred taught me some words too. Us bears are always hungry so I also carried a pupu (snack) with me. Fred gave me a lei (neclace) that you can see me wearing in memory of Fred's albatross friends who never got to soar because they died from being fed litter. Lei can also be the traditional neclace of flowers, shells, or feathers worn and given all through the year for many reasons.

Pia means green turtle, Keiki means kid and Wai means water.

(c) Chris Wade/Marine Photobank

I have had some great experiences and memories of Kauai which I will take with me, made all the more special by having Fred's friendship and his local knowledge. Sadly, I have also learned how fragile the island plants, animals and ocean life are and how much help they need. The Hawaiian people are working really hard to protect their islands and surrounding oceans, but many of these problems are global ones. There is only one world and we are all linked together by one ocean.
Aloha, Ed

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Hanapepe salt ponds


Fred and Ron took me to visit a very special place today close to where I learned to surf, the Hanapepe Salt Ponds. Ron explained that this was an important, ancient, salt gathering site. Some Kauai families are allowed to work on the small salt ponds. As the sea water evaporates the salt is left behind and is collected.

The Hanapepe salt ponds are more than 1,000 years old. These current day salt makers are preserving a tradition and producing a kind of salt that is unique in all the world. The salt from the Hanapepe salt ponds is considered sacred and is used for blessings and for healing. Ron was gifted salt from one family a couple years ago and Ron has gifted me some. It is very precious and never sold, just given to family and friends.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Hawaiian Geese


Me, Fred and Ron visited the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. It is found in the beautiful Hanalei Valley. The refuge was created to protect five endangered water birds that rely on the Hanalei Valley for nesting and feeding habitat: the koloa (Hawaiian duck), the ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), the ‘alae‘ula (Hawaiian moorhen), the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt), and the nēnē (Hawaiian goose).

I have seen nēnē in the UK. The Wildfowl and Wetland Trusts have a captive breeding programme which include nēnē and they have reintroduced some of these back to the Hawaiian Islands. They are very friendly geese. The nēnē is the Hawaiian state bird.

Nene (Hawaiian Geese) in a UK sanctuary

Ron did a book signing at Kiluaea.They sell Ron's book called WINTER IS FOR WHALES at the refuge gift shop because it talks story about all kinds of things that change through the seasons. Things like how nēnē nest in winter! Fred and I took the opportunity to talk to some of the visitors and tourists. They were happy to find out about Fred's stories and they were surprised to find out that I was visiting from the England.

The refuge is a flatish river valley above sea level and surrounded by steep, wooded hillsides, up to 1,000 feet high. The water from the Hanalei River is diverted into an east and west supply ditch. where it then flows northwest and provides water for huge fields 140 acres of taro.

I was sitting by the edge of a taro field when Fred went over to see some birds. Fred sat down and a nēnē came right up to him to talk.

(c) Ron Hirshi: Project Soar. Fred with a friendly nene

The nene was a bit wary of me, as there are no bears on the Hawaiian Islands. afraid of Ed, not Fred. Nene like the little white berries of Naupaka plant, berries that are abundant in winter all around the edges of the island. Snorklers use the leaves of this plant to wipe on the inside of the mask, making it stay non-foggy. Very use plant.

Aloha, Ed

Friday, 20 November 2009

Swimming in an Underwater Garden

The beaches and forests of Kauai are very beautiful, the island is also known as the Garden Isle. Fred took me snorkeling today and saw the underwater world around Kauai for the first time. The name Garden Isle must also be refering to the sea, because as we snorkelled it felt like we were swimming through a beautiful undersea garden. Corals only grow in warm water, so no coral reefs back home in the UK, except for a few soft corals. The fish here are also very colourful, wrasse, butterfly fish and many more. My relatives are great fish eaters, especially salmon when it swims up river. I don't think even they would eat such beautiful fish  (or maybe they would if they grew bigger). I think they would find them much harder to catch than the salmon which bears catch when the salmon swim up river into shallow water to lay their eggs.

We didn't take any photographs underwater so Ron has allowed me to use this picture below to show you.

(c)  From the book "Swimming with Humuhumu", illustration is by Tammy Yee.

He said that this is the best introduction to Kauai and its underwater world. This is from a book "Swimming with Humuhumu" written by Ron and this beautiful artwork was produced for the book by Tammy Lee. The two children in the picture, Cole and Madison, visit Kauai for the first time and write postcards to their Gramma back home on the mainland. Ron wrote them into this book to help the kids share the wonders of the Hawaiian islands, especially Kauai, with their young readers. The fish on the right is a Humuhumu, (from the title of the book) which is the state fish of Hawaii, so its extra special.

People often think of the land and sea as being seperate, but really islands like Kauai are bits of seabed sticking up above the water. The Hawaiian islands were created as the result of volcano. Now, Ron told me, the land is slowly, oh so slowly sinking into the sea as the old volcano subsides, slipping into earth as has other islands to the north and west. Newer islands, like Hawaii and Oahu, are much more recent volcanoes and eruptions still occur on Hawaii, newest of the main islands.

Aloha, Ed

Thursday, 19 November 2009

More on Marine Litter


Fred the monkey and myself were again helping to clean the beach. It was hard work and so we sat down to have a rest. As we sat we talked about the albatross and then Fred gave me a folded piece of paper with a list written on it. Fred told me to read the list and to guess how many of the plastic items might contribute to the death of an albatross.

This is the list.

Bottle caps
Knife handle
Toy soldiers
Toy animals
Disposable lighters
Shotgun shells
Clothes pins
Drinking straws
Nylon rope

After having a hard look at the list and thinking about which items might be eaten by albatross chicks I chose the following items for my list.

Bottle caps
Toy soldier
Toy animals
Nylon rope
Shot gun shells
Drinking straws

Fred said I had made a good list. Try making a list yourself. How many do you think I got right?

We spoke more about the beautiful albatross and their ocean wanderings. They really are amazing birds. I asked Fred how many on list I had gotten right and he said all of them. I was feeling quite pleased with myself. Then Fred suggested we should get back to cleaning the beach.

                              (c) Ron Hirshi, Soar Project

These nets were too heavy for a monkey and a bear, so we got help from some locals who carried them away. Although the beaches had lots of litter, Ron told us that this was much better than in others years because the local people had been working really hard to tackle the marine litter problem.

When we had finished we had collected a lot of plastic items. I said to Fred that at least the plastic litter we had collected wouldn't be harming any more albatross or other marine life. Fred asked me to remember the items on he list he had shown me. He said I had done well with my list but actually all the items in his list can contribute to the death of albatross. The adult albatross pick up food items from the surface of the sea to feed their chicks, but they also collect plastic litter without realizing. The items that are found most to have killed albatross chicks are plastic bottle caps and disposable lighters. There are also many unidetified pieces of plastic found inside the dead albatross chicks. And of course, this litter also kills many other marine animals as well. Fred said, this made him very sad.. I agreed.

Fred said that he was glad that I had visited with him and that he hoped I would take his message back to the UK, which I said I would.
The Hawaiin people have a very powerful word we should all remember, "Kuleana" which means "responsibility". We all need to clean our teeth, and plastic bricks and plastic animals are fun to play with but when we don't want them anymore we have Kuleana to make sure they are recycled or disposed of safely.

Aloha, Ed and Fred

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals


Today I saw 2 monk seals. They are similar to the common seals we have back home in the UK, but these seals are a bit bigger. Fred’s buddy Ron took a photograph of this monk seal when walking along the beach. It just came out of the water and plonked itself down onto the beach near where Ron was walking,

Copyright Ron Hirshi Soar Project

You may remember I told you about the common seals back home and how their population had dropped by over 50% in recent years. Well sadly, these seals are even more endangered and may even become extinct. Many biologists are working really hard to stop this from happening, including friends of Fred and Ron. Fred told me that these seals are declining at about 4% a year in the North West Hawaiian Islands. However, Ron says that more show up in main Hawaiian islands, so there is some hope. The 2 seals we saw swam past at Salt Ponds near Hanapepe where I learned to surf.

The monk seals that once lived in the Caribbean Islands are now extinct. There are still some monk seals in the Mediterranean. A friend of my Buddy Steve, Nicky, used to work on a project to help protect the Mediterranean Monk seals. Fred asked me if there were still monk seals living in the Mediterranean sea. So I e-mailed my sister Bella and this is what she sent me.

Hello Ed and Fred, or should I say Aloha.

There are a few hundred monk seals left in the Mediterranean and these are even more endangered still. The species is classed as Critically Endangered by the 2000 IUCN Red List. These monk seals are particularly sensitive to human disturbance, particularly from coastal development and tourism pressures which are driving the seals to live in unsuitable habitat. In some pupping caves, pups are vulnerable to storm surges and may be washed away and drowned. Although the monk seal is legally protected, it is regularly killed by fishermen who consider it a pest through competing for fish stocks and damaging nets.

Maybe you will get a chance to check this out when you travel to Europe!

Love Bella xxx

Thanks Bella very useful information.

Aloha, Ed

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Ed finds out about the Laysan Albatross

I have had lots of fun on the island but my stay is tinged with sadness. One of my reasons for coming to Kauai, apart from meeting Fred and Ron, was to find out more about the tragic deaths of hundreds of Laysan Albatross. You may remember Fred gave me a leg band from an Albatross chick to wear, like the one he wears, in memorial of the death of albatross chicks in Hawaii.

Strictly (c) Ron Hirsch Projet Soar

We travelled to Kiluaea National Wildlife Refuge to see albatross, but they had not arrived yet. We did see some friends of Fred, red footed boobies who he met out on Pihemanu. Some were at Kiluaea along with Nene, some shearwaters, and some tropicbirds too. Fred told me that Laysan Albatrosses nest on Kauai and on other small islands in the North West Hawaiian Island chain. They are not present on other big islands because of the dogs, cats and mongoose that have been introduced to the island. Luckily there are no mongoose on Kauai, (which eat birds eggs) so albatrosses can nest along the northeastern shores like by Larson's Beach and even around where people live and play golf at Princeville. A lad we spoke to said if you want to see an albatross up close, visit Princeville after 16th November.

Fred told me more about the Albatross. Firstly each pair only lay one egg and raise one chick. Scientists have been studying the Albatross because we know very little about them because they spend most of their life soaring above the waves.

(c) Claire Fackler

I wondered why plastic was such a problem as it certainly did not look very appertising to me. Fred explained that the albatrosses die from plastic litter because they feed by landing on the water and picking at stuff. They look for squid and they search too for flying fish eggs. Fred told me that the eggs often stick to things like netting and pieces of fishing line. So, the birds snatch floating egg masses and any plastic object that is about the size of a squid (brush, lighter, toothbrush, bottle cap, lego, toy soldier, fragment of plastic bucket, etc) and fly on back to the babies and feed it to them.

The adult Laysan Albatross might fly roundtrip over a thousand miles on any one of its weekly trips away from the nesting island. The young albatross die when plastic tears the wall of the stomach or they die when they are not able to cough up the bolus (pellet) that naturally forms in their stomach to get rid of bones or other hard parts of their food like the beaks of squid. This is their one chance of getting rid of the plastic they have swallowed too. The young birds eject one bolus before attempting to fledge. If they are unable to do this, they die from starvation since the plastic fills the stomach to capacity. This made me feel really sad and we sat there for a while not saying anything.

We went back to look for Albatross again, but they still had not arrived.

                                           Strictly (c) Ron Hirsch Project Soar

This is a Laysan Albatross that Fred got to know more personally than any others. Fred said there are about a million albatross on Pihemanu. The little ones stay in the same place for about six months prior to attempts at fledging, so it is easy to get to know birds. This young one is testing the wind and its wings. The birds fledge by entering the water of the lagoon. They swim out to the edge of the atoll then fly off.

Fred said he would show me the Hala Hala plant which is a native Hawaiian plant. Shearwaters often nest here, hiding their baby and themselves from any harm within the stiff tent-like structure at the base of the plant. It also makes a good sun shade for them to shelter from the hot sun as well.

Fred said that much of the lowland vegetation in the main Hawaiian Islands is non-native. Native plants are gone from the lowlands and those in higher elevation rainforest are often threatened or endangered. More species of plants and animals are on the endangered list in Hawaii than all the other 49 states of the US combined. This is a huge amount when you think how big the other states are. We hear a lot about Hawaii back in England, but mainly about how it is such a friendly place and how beautiful it is. It’s rather shocking to hear how much trouble the island's plants and wildlife are in.

Our search for shearwaters in the Hala Hala plant turned into a game of hide and seek.

Later we discussed the problem of extinction further. Fred's buddy Ron says that islands are particularly vulnerable to introduced species as the animals that live there have no defense against them. Being a small island they can’t more far away to avoid the dangers either. Like other islands, species here become extinct and endangered because of introduced species (ground nesting birds are disappearing because of introduced rats and pigs. The local plants and wildlife also find it difficult to compete with these introduced species as they often have no natural predators here. Surf boards here were originally made from the spongy wood of the wili wili.

In earlier times, Fred would have gotten to surf on boards made from the spongy wood of the wili wili. but there are few wili wili trees around. But Fred now refuses to surf on any plastic board and is awaiting his very own traditional Alaia board, being shaped for him by an Australian surfer and board maker!

Aloha, Ed