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Sunday, November 05, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023

Humpback mother and calf pair swim through Hawaiian waters. Photo by J. Moore/NOAA Permit 15240

HUMPBACK WHALE MOTHERS AND CALVES have already been spotted in Hawaiian waters where they come each winter. The humpbacks breed, give birth, and nurse their young here during winter before swimming back to waters off Alaska and Canada for the summer. 
    NOAA asks that boaters, swimmers, surfers and divers be mindful. "With the return of humpback whales, or Koholā, to Hawaiʻi waters, including some early reports of multiple mother/calf pairs,
Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary reminds ocean users to keep a safe and legal distance of at least 100 yards from whales, and reduce harassment and possible vessel strikes that pose risks to the animals and ocean users alike."
    Humpback Whales are often spotted in Kaʻū from South Point, from Honu‘apo and its Hwy 11 lookout, and from Kawā, Punalu‘u and the shores of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
    "Two key best practices are for vessel operators to keep a sharp eye out for Koholā and reduce vessel speeds, as both have been shown to reduce the risk of hitting a whale, especially calves, which are particularly susceptible to vessel strikes," says the NOAA statement.
    Humpback whale season in Hawai‘i generally runs from November through May, when thousands of Koholā return to Hawai‘i each year.
    Volunteers can sign up for NOAA's Ocean Count on the last Saturday of January, February and March with Miloli‘i, South Point, Punalu‘u and a station in the National Park having been designated as sites for counting whales and other marine mammals on those dates. Register at https://oceancount.org/registration/ starting Jan. 8.

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Aloha Medical Mission provided education on dental health and dental x-rays at Lā ʻOhana
at Miloli‘i on Sunday. Photo from Kalanihale
Education in natural resources was a big part of the outreach
 for Lā ʻOhana at Miloli‘i. Robin Martin of Hawai‘i Marine
 Education & Research Center talks with Akoni Nelson.
  Photo from Kalanihale
THE NINTH ANNUAL LĀ ‘OHANA GATHERING IN MILOLI‘I on Sunday is reported to be a big success by organizer Kaimi Kaupiko of the nonprofit organization Kalanihale. "It was a successful event with many different partners who came to share and educate." Among them were numerous health providers. There were dental X-rays with Aloha Medical Mission, health screening with University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and KTA-provided vaccinations. Queens shared information on genetics and University of Hawai‘i John Burns School of Medicine presented its program. 
    "Hawai‘i Island Community Health and Hopena Kuloli recruited for the education of Certified Nursing Assistants," said Kaupiko. Kalanihale educated the public about its Community Based Subsistence Fishing and Makai Watch. Ho‘ala Kealakeua, Hawai‘i Marine Education & Research Center and Arizona State University-Local provided info on natural resource management and education. Hawai‘i Literacy provided free books from its Bookmobile. Entertainment came from Bula Kailiwai & ‘Ohana, Sister Maka & Son and Brother Kevin.
   The Hawaiian emersion Charter School Kua O Ka Lā sold products to fundraise for a student trip. Other ‘Ohana sold food to fundraise, said Kaupiko.

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HĀLAU VISITING KAʻŪ from Japan, Mexico, Hawai‘i and the mainland wrapped up days of cultural exchange and performances on Sunday, along with visiting significant places for hula practitioners such as the crater at Halema‘uma‘u.
       Above are dancers from Japan with Kaʻū's Hālau Hula ‘O Leionālani. At left are young paniolo dancers from the local halau and below, young dancers learn the preparation of poi at Ke Ola Pu‘uhonua cultural grounds in Nāʻālehu. Photos by Brenda Iokepa Moses
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AID WORKER RAMONA OKUMURA, who was able to leave Gaza where she volunteered her skills in prosthetics to help Palestinian youth, is reported to be resting in Washington state this weekend. Her brother Glenn Okumura, of Pāhala, said she may visit Kaʻū late this year or early in 2024.
    A statement from her family in  Pāhala, Honoka‘a, Honolulu and the mainland, says that many of their members have been inspired to help spread her message "about peace and ending the inhumane violence in Gaza. The Okumura family has been touched personally by the Israel-Hamas war, and has remained in touch with other trapped individuals in Gaza. They continue to advocate for a ceasefire and humanitarian corridor for safe passage for civilians, and an end to this brutal and tragic conflict.
    "Ramona was among hundreds of foreign nationals and dozens of seriously injured Palestinians who
Ramona Okumura, center with mask, as she
made her way out of Gaza and back to U.S.
Photo from Okumura family
were first allowed to leave Gaza after drawn-out discussions between Egypt, Israel, Hamas and Qatar," reports the family. After reaching Egypt, "Ramona thanked everyone who called, emailed, petitioned and met with their government officials."
    Ramona Okumura said, “Luv to everyone who helped get me out. Pray for the people of Gaza who now don't have us as shields from harm.”
    The family statement says, "She and her family describe overwhelming feelings of gratitude for her safety, paired with despair and sadness for the many civilians - 50% of whom are children - who continue to suffer and perish in Gaza. In voice memos she recorded before her escape, Ramona spoke powerfully about the conditions Gazans were facing, in particular, the children she has served for the past six years."
    She is quoted as saying, ”Please tell the U.S. to broker a ceasefire to stop this massacre of children. A friend told me that the more than 3,000 innocent dead Palestinian children are in a place where they no longer suffer. How many more children will find their only peace by dying?”