May 24-27: On to Satawal, Yap state!
Well sometime over the past 28 hours we crossed the state line into Yap, en route to Satawal. We arrived to the small isolated island of Satawal at about 5:30 to an overwhelming greeting-they were SO welcoming and so happy to see us. Saw some friends and paid respects to the Chief. Work starts tomorrow and more coming!
On May 26, we arrived to the Island of Satawal – the island famous for its voyaging canoes and navigators. Mau Pialug was from Satawal. He was a critical link to the success of the Polynesian Voyaging Society when they built Hokulea – a vouaging canoe, and an important revival movement for Polynesian voyaging. The canoe was built but they had no one who knew the ancient art of navigation. And so it was Mau, from Satawal, who provided that for them and then taught the Hawaiians this art from his small community far out in the western pacific.
The Satawalese are possibly the friendliest people on the planet. They were so exited to see us and greeted us with so much warmth. They were prepared with their team of local scientists, and our first meeting must have had more than 150 people present (from an island whose entire population is about 500). We introduced the work (many remembered the first time JR, Mario, Basco, Alex and I were there in 2014), then asked lots of questions about fishing pressure, reef health and other issues. We asked this question: If one of your ancestors were to come back today, what would they see that would surprise them about your community? Your environment? If you were to have them for dinner, what would be different for them? We got so much great stuff from that!
We did our dives to survey the health of the reef and look at fish diversity and biomass, we held a fishery workshop to help them understand the best ways to collect data on landed fish, and interviewed youth, women, and men, and went to see the grave of Mau.
The community had a huge party for us as we left…more pics and info on that soon! Suffice it to say, the tuba (coconut wine) flowed, and they cooked us taro and breadfruit prepared several ways, and fish (tuna and rainbow runner). The women then performed several dances for us telling stories of their voyaging culture, and of Mau.
It was so touching, and reminds us why we do this work…