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Cultural History

The sanctuary strives to understand the relationship between humpback whales and the ancient Hawaiians.  Within Hawaiʻi’s oral and written history there is some evidence, such as petroglyphs, legends, legendary place names, and artifacts indicating that early Hawaiians were aware of the presence of the koholā in Hawaiian waters, yet many still wonder why there is such a scarce amount of information on an animal that has such a large impact on today’s society.  Theories vary from those that say whales may not have been present in Hawaiian waters until the past two centuries to those that say that Hawaiians may have viewed the whale as such a sacred creature that information was kept secret and reserved to only a chosen few.  Regardless of the answer, it is unquestionable that today’s society can learn from the deep-rooted connections Native Hawaiians maintain with the ocean environment. 


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Revised October 09, 2014 by HIHWNMS Webmaster
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