Oceans of discovery

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Jean Souza, the program specialist with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Pacific Islands Region, gets a feel for new hand puppets that arrived for the new Kauai ocean discovery facility at Kukui Grove Center.

The new Kauai ocean discovery facility is finally coming, said Jean Souza, the program specialist with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Pacific Islands Region.

“We’re having a grand opening celebration on January 11, 2020,” Souza said. “We’ve been painting and getting the space ready to promote ocean discovery and community connections. We also need to develop a staff of volunteer greeters.”

The new ocean discovery facility still does not have a formal name, but will be managed by the Office of National Marine Sanctuary and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, will not have any admission charge and be open to the public year-round. Some of the attractions will include exhibits, lecture series and activities for families, students and visitors.

“We’ve been working with the Kauai community and volunteers on outreach and education programs at various venues for decades,” said Allen Tom, superintendent of NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

“We are delighted to announce this upcoming public facility that will connect our educators and researchers with the people of Kauai on a regular basis, and Kauai with the world.”

Some of the planned activities include the training of volunteers for the Ocean Count that is scheduled to start in January and continues through the final Saturday of March, hands-on workshops for families, and more.

“The training for the January workshop will be modified to take advantage of the resources that are scheduled to be available for the facility’s opening,” Souza said. “We’ll have further details and schedules as we near the January 11th opening date.”

Kris Sarri, CEO and president of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, said Hawaii’s marine environment is unique.

“Our ocean’s majestic giants find refuge in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument that protect habitats and species found nowhere else on earth. This facility will be a place for Kauai residents and visitors to discover, explore and connect with these protected waters.”

Souza said the facility will provide a “year-round venue to foster connections to the ocean, our heritage and each other.”

For more information, or to register as a volunteer greeter, call Souza at 651-1457, or email her at Jean.Souza@noaa.gov.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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