For millenia, Polynesian cultures have navigated vast swaths of the Pacific using canoes and sailing vessels such as the vaka moana.

vaka moana

In a recent effort to celebrate Polynesian culture and bring attention to the importance of presevering our oceans, a group known as the Pacific Voyagers have embarked on a sailing expedition from New Zealand, through the South Pacific, to Hawaii, and across to San Francisco, and now San Diego, California.

On Tuesday, this group of explorers and cultural leaders visited the Birch Aquarium where Drs. Richard Summerville, Stuart Sandin, and Jennifer Smith (my advisor) spoke with them about climate change, overfishing, and preserving coral reef ecosystems. In addition, some of us students were invited to attend, and we had the chance to speak with The Voyagers one-on-one. AMAZING!

My most notable conversations were with Brown Apera Makea from the Cook Islands (left) and Nabil Mercy Kafalava from Tonga (right).

Brown told us about his experiences building boats and being a tour guide; and also some hair-raising stories about being at sea.  Mercy (one of the youngest voyagers) explained his love of Shakespeare, and also explained to me why they can’t simply navigate using the ipod constellation app.  These two men exemplified the collective passion for people, education, and the ocean that all the Pacific Voyagers represent.  They are an inspiration to their own people and the world.

Click HERE to see their film (AMAZING!)

Click for the Pac. Voyagers website

About Levi

Immersed in a PhD program that defines, rules & schedules my life; in a good way.

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