Hawaii in the San Juans

By: Aaron, Peter, Rosie—

For one of the first times in hundreds of years a traditional Hawaiian vessel shared the waterways of the San Juans with a traditional Coast Salish vessel.

Our day began with the lavender festival, an annual celebration hosted by Pelindaba Lavender Farm.  We ate and tried all things imaginable that were infused with lavender including coffee, ice cream, lotions and teas.  

Afterwards we raced back to the labs to collect our tethered snails before the tide could rise and hide our specimens. We got there just in time to get the data we needed. 

Lead by Matt Wickey, canoe builder and cultural expert, we set out in the two canoes at about six o’clock.  The Hawaiian canoe named Kaigani was made in Poulsbo Washington by an expert boat builder in a fusion of Tahitian and Hawaiian style.  The Coast Salish canoe was built in Friday harbor by youth and community members using cedar strip technique.

Hawaiian canoe: Kaigani


We ventured out of Mitchell Bay to Mosquito Pass and eventually Westcott Bay as the sun set to the West.  Many songs were sung and conversions had before the peaceful journey came to an end.

After, we cruised back to the Friday Harbor Labs for some nightlighting.  We took a powerful LED light and hung it off the dock into the water.  For many smaller organisms such as zooplankton and copepods, the light indicates to them the proximity to the surface, the desired feeding location. 

The water was soon teaming with life of all kinds.  The organisms arived nearly in order of their level on the food chain.  First the tiny plankton, then the larger copepods and worms, next came small fish.  Had we stayed out longer we likely would have seen this trend continue.  It was striking to see how such a light brought so many organisms into view. 

We ended the evening with a few glimpses of magical bioluminescence.

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