Hikianalia Science Update | April 28, 2015
The Polynesian voyaging canoe Hikianalia is on a 2,400 mile return journey from Aotearoa to Hawaii. Crewmembers will be sending frequent updates so that educators and students can track her progress in conjunction with the Worldwide Voyage Tracking Map.
This morning at sunrise we had a short visit by a pod of dolphins. Winds and swells have gotten much smaller over the last few days, lowering our hull speed and probably the reason the dolphins did not stay with us. A few days ago we caught two more female mahimahi. The smaller one (82 centimeters/32 inches) had two ballyhoo in her stomach, the larger one (109 cm./109 in.) had a variety of things in hers: two ballyhoo, one small pufferfish, one triggerfish (a different species than the beige ones we found before), and several other fish that were already so digested that we were not able to identify them. Additionally there was a long piece of green plastic in her stomach.
Marine debris such as plastic are a big problem in the oceans today. Plastic degrades only very slowly by being broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. The smaller the pieces the more likely they get mistaken for food and eaten by animals such as birds and fish. The plastic then gets stuck in the animals organs, often taking up space in the stomach in place of real food. The stomach might become full of plastic preventing the bird or fish to eat anything else and eventually starve to death.
We have been seeing several different species of birds throughout our voyage from Aotearoa. At the beginning, many mōlī (albatross) could be seen swooping in to check out our waʻa. Lately, a few birds associated with finding islands have been spotted, most notably koaʻe ʻula (red-tailed tropic bird) and Manu o Kū (white fairy tern).