Over the past few days, the students have finished both the exercise about reef health and about coastal geomorphology. Now, they are moving (figuratively) into deeper water. Travis has introduced an exercise about large fauna migration. He has provided each group with a time series data set on a different type of large animal including whales in Rarotonga, leatherback turtles in the Atlantic, and northern Pacific fur seals. Over the next few days, the students will be analyzing the data they were given and presenting it to the group. At the same time, they need to synthesis all of the exercises undertaken so far to write a paper on the effect of climate change in Rarotonga.
Since climate change is truly an earth systems science problem (see Travis’ blog post about earth systems science), it was time for the students to learn more about where they were. Last night, they attended an island night at the Highland Paradise. The Highland Paradise provides a truly special evening by starting the evening with a walk in the gardens that explains parts of ancient Cook Island Maori culture. After a tapu lifting ceremony at the local marare, the program enters entertainment hall. The students were then introduced to traditional food including food cooked in an umu like the one seen in the garden. The storyline of the dancing and drumming program then stepped through Cook Islands history from before the missionaries to present day. The show was amazing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to stitch together some of the videos I took so you will get a sense of how Cook Island dance has changed through the ages. (Look for the video in future blog posts!)
The students also really enjoyed hiking along the “Cross the Island” trail which cuts across the island via The Needle. The Needle is part of the core of the volcano that originally created Rarotonga. At The Needle, the students were able to see both coasts of Rarotonga.
After the students present their large fauna migration presentations, it’ll be time to pack up and fly to New Zealand! More posts from there!
Meitaki to all in Rarotonga for hosting us and your hospitality!