Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 9 - Captain James Cook & The Ocean

It has been an amazing adventure of island volcanoes and cultural learning and today we continued that journey.

James Cook, one of the greatest explorers and perhaps the greatest of them all, was the first Englishman to discover Hawaii and thus, the first European, from whence most of the explorers came.

On January 18, 1778, Cook found the beautiful western islands of the Hawaiian chain and one year later after many a trip around Hawaii and to Alaska he and his shipmates arrived at Kealakekua Bay on January 17th, 1779.

The bay is located at 19.477941,-155.927113.

View Larger Map

To the south was the village of Kekua and to the north on the point in the map was Kaawaloa. Thousands of native Hawaiian went to the two ships Cook sailed with, the Discovery and the Resolution by canoe. Friendly and welcoming, the Hawaiian leaders found Cook to be a royal figure or possibly a religious figure named Lono. What is clear is that they arrived at Kealakekua during a peaceful time. After much reception and regalia, the ships left on Feb 4, 1779. However, they returned February 11th, because the Resolution had a broken foremast due to strong storms. Ultimately this return to the bay spelled the end of James Cook and through a seen of confusion, theft, and killing, Cook was killed on the north point of the bay. Gavan Daws in the Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands (1968) describes the event in detail and says of the man,

"The fact was that by the middle of the nineteenth century Cook's reputation had sunk very low in the place that was his last great discovery. It was a curious fate for him to have suffered, and on not altogether the fault of the Hawaiians. Natives at Kealakekua Bay and elsewhere looked back on Cook's death with a mixture of genuine sorrow and mournful relish, the kind of feeling shared by people who have survived a great catastrophe and cannot stop talking about it" (p24).

Today there are different moments on the coast of the Bay, which is a marine sanctuary and one of the finest places to snorkel on the Big Island, and some claim in the entire chain of islands. Here are several captures from the day.

The north point is only accessible from boat, kayak from the south, or by walking the 3 mile trail down 1500 feet of elevation. We opted for the trail. At the bottom we found this:

@ approximately 19.478963,-155.93517

Along the shore is this erected monument:

@ 19.481302,-155.933454

Here we spent the morning snorkeling and seeing the most amazing fish diversity and numbers I have ever seen in my life. During our break we discussed James Cook and Bill gave a talk on coral reefs and human influences on them and Alex B and Ian each gave a devotional. It was such an exceptional day.

The bay was once called, according to some locals we met, the bay of yellow clouds. This is due to the enormous amount of Yellow Tang fish that fill this beautiful marine sanctuary.

Who is going in first?

Almost in!
Our discussion about James Cook at the place where he died
Several of our students have underwater cameras and here are some from Eric:

Steven saw a fish this big! (well maybe just a sea turtle)

Schools of fish
Needle fish
A beautiful place
A Parrot fish
A Moray Eel
And from Ian and his underwater camera:

The crunching sound you hear in the video is from the Parrot fish crunching on the coral.

We finished our day with a strenuous 3 mile hike up 1500feet in elevation and then had a beautiful sunset in Kona with dinner on the water.

As is the case with most large groups, we have had 2 students become ill thus far. One of them threw-up after the end of the day. She is doing better now but please pray for her and all of us for health and strength as we continue this field experience at probably the best place in the world to study volcanoes.

Number of Miles Hiked Today: 6 miles (with 1500 feet in elevation change)
Number of Miles Hiked in Hawaii: 29.6 miles
Number of Miles on the car: 724 miles
Number of U-Turns: 15
Number of Fish seen underwater in Hawaii today: Oh about 4,000 fish seen among 26 people from Calvin College. :)

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