Seascapes symbolize both the physical dimensions of ocean and coastal areas, as well as the meanings humans ascribe to their observations, interactions, and relationships to the sea. In Hawaiʻi, seascapes are particularly important given that the ocean contributes considerably to the well-being of coastal communities which are vulnerable to climate change and other human pressures. Monitoring and understanding how these areas are changing requires fully knowing the relationship between physical and cultural dynamics.
Mechanical sensors in the marine environment monitor wave regimes, streamflow, rainfall, and other parameters that scientists and managers use to predict the effects and implications of climate change, yet objective data alone will not predict society’s response to a changing climate. In this presentation, Noelani will discuss observations of the seascape shared by recreationists, fishers, and respected ocean watermen in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, to describe how people on the seascape internalize climate and environmental changes important to their interactions with the resource. By working with respected ocean observers, Noelani and her colleagues are learning more about changes that have been witnessed over time and the spatial scales and ocean conditions important to the communities. Managing complex seascapes requires the integration of both human and mechanical observations to ensure that multiple systems of knowledge are included and valued; strengthening our understanding of seascapes and their resiliency in this changing environment.