The whale returns

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Melissa McFerrin-Warrack gets a closer look at the whale’s intestines on a view from the whale’s tail looking forward to the mouth Thursday during a training session for volunteers to OceanFest at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Jean Souza of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary gives Melissa McFerrin-Warrack of Kukui Grove Center an orientation inside the life-like, inflatable, walk-in humpback whale, Thursday during a training session for volunteers of OceanFest.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Jamie Thomton of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service, enjoying his second day back from a more-than-30-day furlough created by the government shutdown, Tuesday sets up replica skulls of a humpback whale and a spinner dolphin for the OceanFest event that opens tonight at Kukui Grove Center.

LIHUE — The life-like humpback whale is returning to Kauai, coinciding with the opening of the 2019 OceanFest this evening at Kukui Grove Center.

The inflatable, life-sized, walk-in humpback whale and the screening of Disney’s “Moana” in the Hawaiian language highlight this weekend’s opening of OceanFest, which will continue through Feb. 23.

“People are always excited to catch a fleeting glimpse of these majestic creatures during the humpback whale season,” said Jean Souza, regional program specialist with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

“This new, inflatable whale exhibit allows us to offer a unique experience and educate about these animals close up. Mahalo to the Kukui Grove Center, the Lihue Public Library, and the Princeville Public Library for providing venues to share this exciting display with our community.”

The premiere of the interactive whale exhibit at KGC marks the first days of the week-long visit of the life-like humpback whale to Kauai, hosted by the HIHWNMS. Families visiting the exhibit will experience the humpback whale accompanied by learning stations and an activity table.

The whale will be available for experiencing from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

There will also be a free collaborative exhibit by all of the OceanFest partners in another vacant retail space at the mall, as well as a pop-up shop by the Kilauea Point Natural History Association to help support the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

The speakers’ program will start with a panel discussion 2 p.m. Saturday on the Nualolo Kai restoration project. Mark Travers of the Kauai Seabird Restoration Project will host a lecture on Hawaiian seabirds and conservation at 5 p.m.

The premiers screening of Disney’s “Moana” in the Hawaiian language on Kauai will take place at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. The screening is the highlight of the Hawai‘inuilakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in collaboration with Kanaeokana, a kula Hawaii network hosting ‘Olelo Hawaii night at the KGC food court.

Bingo in the Hawaiian language starts at 6 p.m., followed by the “Moana” screening that will use the new screen and projector system that is a part of the KGC food court renovation project.

“We are excited to host a olelo Hawaii night on Kauai, and look forward to having more opportunities to renormalize Hawaiian language in all sectors of our community,” said Malia Nobrega-Olivera, the UH Manoa Hawai‘inuilakea community engagement specialist.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or


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