Changing Hawaiian Seascapes and Their Management Implications

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Noelani Puniwai (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)

The study of seascapes, the area where humans interact with the ocean, and particularly, how people ascribe meaning to their observations, interactions, and relationships to the sea is directly pertinent to the management of our ocean resources. Through our interviews with respected ocean users we learned the difficulties and potential of mapping ocean currents and ocean use areas and how these ocean experts have perceived change in the environment. In Hilo, Hawaiʻi, we interviewed ocean experts (people recommended for the ocean knowledge), and surfers of all ages and experience at Honoliʻi. We also collected physical environmental data for Hilo Bay and ocean user presence counts for beaches within this county. Understanding the dynamics of the seascape in a manner that supports management decision-making requires us to understand the complex interactions between human, biological, and physical processes. We mapped the changes in oceanic conditions through time as monitored by environmental sensors and the perception of this change as reflected in personal interactions with a site through time. Changes in the environment cannot be perceived only through the measurement of single variables, but must be placed within a social context of complex changes. Through the interviews we can see a pattern of seacape delineation, scales of interactions, and personal connections with the ocean. Ocean experts’ spatial observations are determined by their activities on the ocean as well as ecological boundaries. Change over time in a specific place is defined by biological and physical changes, external social pressures, and individual reflections, preventing ocean observers from specifically identifying the effects of climate change yet allowing their connection to place to continue. Exposing managers to the application of alternative data sources and particularly human perceptions expands the ability of managers to align discussions around scales relevant for ocean users.

Honoli'i Beach, Hawai'i Island - Credit: Noelani Puniwai

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Noelani Puniwai (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)

Start Date: August 2014

End Date: August 2016

Project Status: Completed

Tags: CSC, Pacific Islands CSC, 2014, Coastal Communities, Resiliency, Culture, Water and Ice, Sea-Level Rise and Coasts

Fiscal Year: FY 2014 Projects

Publications & Other

  • Final Project Report for "Hawaiian Seascapes and Their Management Implications"

    • PICSC Final Report Puniwai Hamakua_Seascapes 2016 11 30.pdf (Download)
      • Mapping Ocean Currents Through Human Observations: Insights from Hilo Bay, Hawai'i

          • Project Snapshot: "Hawaiian Seascapes and Their Management Implications"

            • PICSCResearchFeature_Puniwai_HiloSeascapes.pdf (Download)
            • Recreational Seascapes: Integrating Human and Mechanical Observations on Hawaiʻi Island

              • Salt Pond Locations on Hawai‘i Island - PIPES Intern Report

                • Puniwai HawaiianSeascapes -- PIPES Quinn_Paakai.pdf (Download)
                • Understanding Seascapes Through the Eyes of Honoli‘i Surfers - PIPES Intern Report

                  • Puniwai HawaiianSeascapes -- PIPES SKung_surf.pdf (Download)
                  • Understanding the Pūnāwai of Keaukaha, HI - PIPES Intern Report

                    • Puniwai HawaiianSeascapes -- PIPES Kauahi_Punawai.pdf (Download)


                    • Nearshore Ocean Currents - Hilo, Hawai'i