Monday, July 28, 2008

Mokupapapa Discovery Center

MokupapapaOne of the benefits we have been tauting of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument could be the visitor's center that would be built by the NOAA sanctuaries program. The benefits of a visitor's center are two-fold: There would be education benefits for local students and residents and there would be an added tourist attraction for our overseas visitors.

The Papahanaumokuakea visitor center is called the Mokupapapa Discovery Center and it is right on the water in Hilo on the Big Island. I tried finding the meaning of Mokupapapa, but couldn't find it. Any help would be appreciated.

The Discovery Center is in an historic looking shopping center and I have to admit that I was not impressed by the front door.

Mokupapapa Front DoorIt looked like an antique furniture shop or an ice shaved parlor, not a museum. The front entrance to the American Memorial Park visitors center is much more impressive.

Looks can be deceiving. The inside more than made up for the lack of a grandiose front door.

national parks map in pacificAs soon as you walk in the door you are greeted with a giant map of the Pacific Ocean highlighting all the monuments, national parks, sanctuaries, and other significant marine protected areas in our part of the world. Points on the map light up to show you the different parks' locations.

blue trevalliHanging from the walls and the ceilings are some models of a giant manta ray, sharks and other apex predators, like giant trevally. The predator density in Papahanaumokuakea is one of the highest in the world. That is one of the many things that make it special.

One of the areas inside the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument has the highest shark densities in the Pacific. We're special, too.

In the front room, in addition to the big fish and a coral reef mural, there are several interactive video displays with information on volcanoes, the Hawaiian Islands, birds, fish, conservation, and biodiversity.

AquariumIn the next room there is an aquarium with fish that one finds in the monument, like the convict tang, known locally as kiyu.

submarineThe back room has a theater with displays on the history of the islands on the walls. A movie was playing and a double hulled canoe was hanging from the ceiling.

Probably my favorite display was the life size mock up of a submersible. There were buttons and switches that lit up, you know, for the kids, but the best part was the remote control arm, you know, for the kids. I refuse to admit how long I spent trying to pick up the little foam balls with the arm.

marine debris displayThere were also displays on marine debris and its affect on sea life as well as a looping video of a Hawaiian chant explaining the creation of the Hawaiian islands.

All in all we spent a good hour in the visitors center, but could probably have stayed longer if we watched all the videos and read and played with all of the interactive displays.


Forgotten said...

Very cool, Angelo. Thanks for sharing!

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I just saw your blog. Thanks for linking to me!

KAP said...


C'mon, you made that up.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

The Kiyu's are named after a fish, the Convict Tang.

Max Sand said...

Looks like the place was overrun with customers.

What do you think it owes it's popularity to?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

They get between 150-300 visitors per day.

Dominic said...

Very nice! Is there anything that comes close to this place in the CNMI?

Dominic said...

Very nice! Is there anything that comes close to this place in the CNMI?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Not for science stuff, but AMP does a great job for WWII.

You can't bring people back in time to visit WWII, but after visiting the visitor center you can start to get an idea of what it was like.

The same is true for a potential visitor's center on Saipan. The majority of people won't want to take the 2 day boat ride to the proposed monument, but they can visit the visitors center and get a feel for the place.

Instead of bringing people to the monument, we'd be bringing the monument, and the volcanoes, coral, fish, smokers, and everything else, to the people.