(Papahānaumokuākea) — While diving to survey coral reefs on Wednesday, Hikianalia crew members discovered two large anchors in about 20-feet of water in Lalo’s 14-mile wide lagoon, as well as two pots about 2 to 3 feet wide.
The features look to be associated with a 19th century sailing vessel according to marine archaeologist Dr. Kelly Gleason Keogh who has worked in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for 15 years.
Although not yet verified, circumstantial evidence indicates that what they found is possibly part of an 1800’s whaling ship located near the area where the Two Brothers ship from Nantucket was identified in 2010 by NOAA maritime archaeologists.
The Two Brothers Ship was captained by George Pollard Jr., who was also on the whaling ship Essex, which inspired Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick.
The Hikianalia crew took photos and video of the archaeological find. NOAA Research Coordinator and Hōkūleʻa crew member Randy Kosaki says the anchors were situated in a way that indicates they were not deployed but rather stored on the bow.
According to Kosaki, it may take another two years for NOAA archaeologists to return to Lalo and further investigate, document and verify the possible identity of the findings.
As the shipwreck is old and now home to ocean life, it is now unofficially referred to as “Hikianalia Reef.” The crew members who discovered the shipwreck parts are from Hikianalia, Hōkūleʻa’s sister canoe. The canoe is sailing with Hōkūleʻa on all of the training voyages and will be part of the Moananuiākea Voyage.
“We’re here to explore and it’s exciting that our canoes are participating in the process of discovery with NOAA, one of the great stewards of this place,” said Nainoa Thompson, Polynesian Voyaging Society President and Pwo Navigator. “The experts from NOAA say it’s a significant archaeological site. To feel like we’re helping and contributing to the body of knowledge of the ocean and this place is a privilege and a gift to those voyaging these canoes. To give us reason to support the great work, makes the voyage all the more meaningful and to have multi-generations of teachers and students on these canoes, it couldn’t be better,” added Thompson.
“This discovery for us is just confirming the ability to know the destructive power of the storms and the ability of it to restore. It’s the first crack of light in the storm of what we’re doing to nature on earth in that there are ways that nature will be okay and taken care of. We can see the light in the storm because of this voyage.”
NOAA worked with the State of Hawaiʻi to designate the area of the Two Brothers shipwreck, which is near this discovery, as a site on the State and National Historic Register.
“This discovery links traditional voyaging and early-modern seafaring across time,”
said Athline Clark, NOAA’s superintendent for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. “Hōkūleʻa used traditional Native Hawaiian navigational skills to voyage to the site and connect to an early American (1800’s) seafaring vessel.”
Kosaki from NOAA also adds, “We’re off to a really good start. A lot of corals in the lagoon survived and now they’ve found an 1800 shipwreck, I’m over the moon about all of it.”
About Polynesian Voyaging Society
The Polynesian Voyaging Society was founded in 1973 on a legacy of Pacific Ocean
exploration, seeking to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging
and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire
students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, one another, and
their natural and cultural environments. For more information about the Polynesian
Voyaging Society and the Worldwide Voyage, visit www.hokulea.com or find us on
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