Summer doesnʻt mean no homework…

First of all, my orientation days are done and Iʻve been awarded uniform shirts and a fancy magnetic name tag. 🙂Image

& now to homework…

My internship program required me to write a 2-3 page “personal internship development plan” that addresses what I will be doing at my intern site, some history behind it, and objectives Iʻve set for myself while working there.  Be kind,… I havenʻt been in school for the last few weeks and the last English course I took was a semester ago. Haha. 


“Personal Internship Development Plan”

Kualoa Ranch Hawaiʻi Inc., at the surface, has become a well known tourist attraction. However the company’s mission to be stewards of the land by education and celebration of its history and culture, brings together a true concept of ahupua’a.

Though not found in each, a loko i’a kuapā was a prominent feature often constructed at the bottom of an ancient Hawaiian ahupua’a. This simple yet genius system begins at the meeting of a stream mouth and the shore where fresh water mixes with salt water, creating a brackish water, attractive to certain herbivorous fish and organisms like “the ʻamaʻama (striped mullet, Mugil cephalus)” (7, Sato & Lee). A carefully designed rock wall (kuapā), sometimes stretching miles in circumference, makes home for many of these organisms in a brackish water sanctuary. Indeed, a fishpond is a sanctuary due to its mākāhā.

Mākāhā, or gate fixtures, are built into the rock wall on the outskirts of the pond, closest to the ocean. Small voids in the gate allow for only small fish or “pua” and critters to enter, thus serving as protection from larger predators (6, Sato & Lee). The young organisms, including common delicacies like ” āholehole (Hawaiian flagtail, Kuhlia sandvicensis), moi (Polydactylus sexfilis), awa (milkfish, Chanos chanos)” and ʻōio, happily enjoy the nutrient rich mix of fresh water that comes down from the mountains, and soon get too big to swim back out of the mākāhā (11-15, Sato & Lee).

This is where Hawaiians are so intelligent: Knowing which fish would not be able to escape, pond-keepers would open the inner gate, let the fish swim to the outer gate, close the inner gate, then with an ʻupena (net), scoop their meal caught in the median (ʻauwai).

Pond-keepers, like other professionals in the Hawaiian culture, were keen observers, hard-workers and natural scientists. Modeling the footsteps of an ancient Hawaiian is a man named George Uyemura, the keeper of Mōliʻi fishpond, the loko iʻa kuapā now privately owned by Kualoa Ranch Hawaiʻi Inc. where I will be interning.

“Uncle George”, as he naturally became known as, was born in 1920 as the son of first generation Japanese immigrants (31, Sato & Lee). Coming from a fishing family, his father obtained a lease for Mōliʻi pond and when Uncle was eight years old, him and his family moved from Waikīkī to Hakipuʻu. A rough transition from city to country and convenience to no electricity or running water, did not break him. He quickly learned the tricks and trade of the pond and became very skilled in his profession, with the help of his family and teachers (32-37, Sato & Lee).

Uncle George is ninety-five years old today, and still works hard. A lot of hard work, in fact, is essential in the upkeep of this 128-acre pond that has been in full working existence for over 600 years (49, Sato & Lee). In result of invasive species and other variables culminated over time, labor and maintenance today not only includes the tasks that Uncle did as a little boy, but also need to incorporate studies that will help preserve the ponds function, which is to feed the community. Such studies that I will be a kokua (help) in this summer, include: “maintaining a daily log of weather conditions and rainfall, as well as a weekly log of dissolved oxygen and salinity data, establishing and maintaining a 100×100 foot of (invasive) jellyfish removal, researching and reporting invasive jellyfish with emphasis on reproductive cycles and control methods, conducting daily observations of juvenile and adult marine species in designated areas, identifying and quantifying native and non-native algae species, establishing and maintaining a 100×100 foot of invasive algae removal, researching and reporting on invasive algae with emphasis on identification of native species and control methods for non-native species, observing and measuring floating algae mats and researching possible related conditions to occurrence and duration, establishing and maintaining predator elimination area, observing and quantifying juvenile marine species in and out of predator elimination area, conducting an informal water current analysis in relation to tidal changes, and mapping depth and bottom strata of the north pond” (Kui McCarthy).

Though overwhelming at first, I realize the list of duties are all interconnected and with the help of aunty Kui, I am committed to accomplishing the tasks written out for me. These scientific tasks are contributing not only to this specific loko iʻaʻs well-being, but hopefully to the others in Hawaiʻi and beyond. The research and maintenance will also, in essence, play a part in this eraʻs environmental movement to healthier ecosystems, from mirco-climates to global warming; my small contribution will hopefully better the entire communityʻs efforts, keeping in mind that a healthy ocean is a key factor in a healthy planet.

Regardless of the fact that a lot of what I will be doing, is what I really want to learn anyway, Iʻd like to specifically learn and apply why native species are important to their native areas, and what evidence, if any, do we have today that might imply that native Hawaiians were aware of invasive species (if so, what solutions did they have, and how can we use both their methods and science today, to better control our invasive species in Hawaiian waters).  Such a detailed objective, I assume will take years of dedicated research to accomplish, however there are three things Iʻve committed to doing in my internship that I hope will create a foundation for me to work from in years to come. These three things are what Iʻve stated earlier, that Uncle George Uyemura models as…

I will be a keen observer. Science, as much as it is about math and data, begins with observation and I am committing myself to each day at work, being a better observer than the day before.

I will be a hard worker. The hours I put in will not only be physical, but I am also dedicating myself to working hard mentally, using common and uncommon safety knowledge in whatever Iʻm doing, to protect myself as well as my co- workers.

And last but not least, I will be a natural scientist. Science alone was not my strongest subject in school, but applying it in my job will definitely be good practice for future courses and even a future career. I know that my ancestors were brilliant scientists, and therefore I am holding myself to putting my best effort in being so as well. 

Along side my three objectives, I will also be constantly working on my personal character. I tend to be quiet and reserved when around others, and I know that there are certain times when I do need to open myself and have confidence in speaking and presenting.  I hope I become paʻa to my objectives as well as add more during my summer at Mōliʻi, and Iʻm very grateful for this opportunity to experience applied science field-work.


Works Cited 

Sato, Vernon, and Cheng-Sheng Lee. Keeper of Mōliʻi Pond: An Informal Account of George Uyemura and His Amazing Hawaiian Fishpond. Waimānalo, HI: Oceanic Institute, 2007. Print.



Aloha & God Bless 


3 thoughts on “Summer doesnʻt mean no homework…

  1. Sounds interesting and exciting! Maybe you can compare what you’re doing with what your dad learned when he worked in a fish pond while studying aquaculture!

  2. Reblogged this on Sustainability Studies and commented:
    On the North Shore of Oahu, near the beautiful town of Ka’a’awa, a large chunk of land called Kualoa Ranch extends from the tops of mountains, through valleys, fishponds and beaches, and out toward the reef. Having been there a few times myself to better familiarize myself with the Native Hawaiian “ahupua’a” sustainability concept, I recognized the Kualoa Ranch t-shirt worn by this University of Hawaii at Hilo student on her blog – Ho’omeheu. She is doing a summer internship at Kualoa Ranch and is documenting her experiences on her blog. I thought her post provided a great student perspective of what it might be like to experience true Hawaiian sustainability field studies. Many mahalos to Wai for letting me post her blog entry!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s