One of the highlights of our recent U.S. road trip was stopping at my cousin Elaine’s in Effingham, IL. Her grandson, Keegan, a 2nd grader, is in an elementary school that has for the past 28 years been doing a unit on Hawaii.
Since Barry and I were going to be in town, we were invited to answer their questions about our island home.
1) Since it is so far away from the rest of the United States, why is Hawaii a state?
Hawaii is far away from Mainland U.S. A. – that is true.
- From California to Hawaii is 2,471 miles.
- From Japan to Hawaii is 4,980 miles away.
Before it was a U.S. possession, Hawaii was an independent country. However on Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters (who wanted to make more money). With the help of U.S. military, the business people forced Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to abdicate. She give up her rights and kingdom although she was the rightful leader. She didn’t want her people killed.
Two years later, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory and eventual admitted in 1959 as the 50th state in the union.
2) What races live in Hawaii?
- The state’s overall racial breakdown: white, 22.7%; black or African American, 1.5%; American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.2%; Asian, 37.7%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 9.4%. The Hispanic or Latino population, of any race, was 8.9%.
- More Hawaii residents identify as mixed race – USATODAY.comhttp://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2011-02-24-hawaii-census_N.htm
3) Have you seen a volcano erupt?
- Yes, on the Big Island of Hawaii many years ago, Barry and I saw a volcano erupting!
- Lava and steam have been coming up in various places on the Big Island for many years. Johnny and Sigrid were just there in February and were right by extremely hot, slowly flowing lava.
- On Maui, we have two volcanoes – one extinct (dead) and one dormant (sleeping), so we don’t have lava flows now.
- The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes.
Big Island Kilauea Volcano
Go to this link to see molten lava:
4) What are the black sand beaches like?
- Black sand is hot – very hot when the noon sun shines upon it.
- The dark color absorbs the sunlight, so if your feet are bare, you have to run really quickly to get into the water.
- That sand is black because it is fine particles of volcanic rock.
- Most sand in Hawaii is silicon dioxide (quartz) that is white or whitish yellow; it has been broken down from rocks and minerals by wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles into smaller grains. In a few places, the sand is red.
- Also, sea creatures such as the parrot fish chew up minerals and leave sand behind.
5) What is the weather like?
- Nice – highs are around 87 degrees in June, July, and August and lows of about 64 degrees are in January and February.
- Because temperatures drop about 3.2F (1.3C) every 1,000 feet (305m), the summit of Haleakala is roughly 32F (13C) cooler than the beaches.
- Rainfall is low in Kihei (10 inches a year), but on the east of Maui, is Hana, a rain forest (400 inches a year).
- Hawaii is called a “tropical paradise” because its climate makes people feel comfortable almost every day of the year.
6) Are there a lot of shark sightings?
- No. Sharks do live in the ocean, but they aren’t often seen here in Hawaii. One thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Palmyra Atoll, however, there are about 20 sharks every half mile. So it depends where you are what sea life you’ll find.
- About three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii. Few shark attacks are fatal. Sharks do not have very good eyesight, so it is best to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at times when the water is murky. Sharks are looking for turtles to eat – not humans.
- The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf, and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.
- The most frequently encountered Hawaiian reef sharks are the White Tipped Reef Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Galapagos Shark, Gray Reef Shark, and the Sandbar Shark.
7) Do people really do the hula?
- Yes, the men and women – and children – dance hula. The Hawaiians have a powerful dance, music, and chant culture!
8) How is Christmas celebrated in Hawaii?
- Over half the people in Hawaii practice Christianity.
- Of those, 18.74% are Catholic; 5.24% are LDS; 3.91% are another Christian faith; 0.06% in Hawaii are Jewish; 5.14% are an eastern faith; 0.05% Islam.
- Barry and I have a Christmas tree, church services, and celebrations with our families. Because the weather is warm, we take food and spend our Christmas Day at the beach with our friends and family.
- Because we live in Hawaii, we get to enjoy and experience other cultures and religions that our friends and neighbors practice.
On Maui – Santa arrives by canoe
9) Are there any interesting animals on Maui?
- Yes. Many – many – especially sea creatures.
- My favorite one? Humpback whales that come to Hawaii from about December through February.
Humpback Whale Facts:
- Whales are mammals: breathe air, warm blooded, live birth, have hair, & mom’s produce milk.
- Fifty-eight million years ago, whales were land animals. But there was global warming and less land and food, so the whales evolved back into sea creatures.
- Their trip from Alaska to Hawaii (and then back to Alaska) takes whales 5 to 7 weeks at 3 to 8 miles per hour – each way! It’s about 3,000 miles they swim to give birth and mate in our shallow, sandy bottom, warm water.
- A whale calf is 15 foot at birth and drinks about 120 pounds of milk per day.
- Because their throats are about the size of a grapefruit, the Humpback whales don’t eat for about four months here because our fish are too big. The whales have to wait until they get back to Alaska where there is krill, small shrimp and other small cold water fish for them to eat!
- All whales vocalize, but the males “sing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2bVbDtiX8
- Life span: 40-80 years
- Length: 35-45 feet
- Weight 35-45 tons ( 1 ton = 2,000 pounds)
- Importance of whales to microscopic beings: Scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures.
- And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.
Come visit us to see other animals, birds, and sea life.
10) Do you have turtles in Hawaii?
- Two kinds you’ll find in Hawaii (among others) are the Green Sea turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
- At Ho’okipa Beach on Maui, you can sometimes see 25 or more turtles, big and small, basking – resting and warming up – on shore every afternoon.
- Thirty years ago, basking seldom happened. But now, turtles are protected. It’s against the law to eat them.
We have other much more common animals:
11) What can you do for fun?
And of course, you must come paddle Hawaiian outrigger canoe with me. Kihei Canoe Club has visitor paddle every Tuesday and Thursday. Be on the beach by 7:15 am. You will learn the basics of paddling, hear a bit of Hawaiian culture (especially if Uncle Kimokea is there), and get to be on the ocean with experienced paddlers. We never know what we will see. http://www.kiheicanoeclub.com/
As for our time in Effingham, Barry and I had a very good time meeting Keegan’s classmates and teachers – and answering their excellent questions.
Cousin Elaine brought juice and made “Hawaiian” cookies with macadamia nuts and coconuts. We all had a good time.
Of course, there is much more to say about the Hawaiian Islands. Come visit and see for yourself.