Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF), NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) and Brookfield Properties have combined forces to launch something new and valuable to Maui residents and visitors.
Co-founded and directed by Hannah J. Bernard, the new 5,000 square foot Hawai’i Wildlife Discovery Center (HWDS) at Whalers Village in Kaanapali resort, serves to educate visitors and locals about the importance of preserving marine life; how to help protect endangered species as well as honouring Hawaiian values and fishing culture. She says, “We have long needed a place that helps our visitors better understand how to respect native wildlife, while simultaneously gaining a deeper appreciation for the islands.”
Suitable for all ages, the sensory-rich experience with 30-plus exhibits brings to life Hawai’i’s undersea life, whaling era, cultural values, and conservation work. Starting with a beautifully shot panorama-style clip, the exhibition consists of a range of photographs, murals, sculptures, and educational displays. Digestible bits of information inspire guests with tips they can put to use instantly to start making a difference in their everyday lives.
Managing marine debris is front and center at the HWDC and the Kids Zone is a place where keiki can use pieces of debris to create art and learn about how plastic and net pollution directly affect local wildlife and ocean habitat. Younger children will delight in the interactive play-room where they can color, do quizzes and play games. There’s also an interactive kiosk where children can choose from 45 locally produced, Maui-focused videos with topics ranging from “Voice of the Sea” to “Kumukahi: Stories of Living Hawaiian Culture” and “What Does it Take to Disentangle a Whale?”
With a floor to ceiling, 3 wall projection, the Immersive Experience immediately transports. Beanbags are scattered on the floor, encouraging guests to sit or lay down and peacefully enjoy a moment “under the sea.” The screens are filled with marine wildlife and the sounds of the ocean lapping onto the shore.
The new space will also allow Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to offer education and outreach programs on the West side of Maui, as well as a place for volunteer opportunities. For those interested in making a positive impact for a more sustainable island, visiting the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Discovery Center is a great place to start.
For more information, visit Hawaiʻi Wildlife Discovery Center: www.hawaiiwildlifediscoverycenter.org