Taking Education Underwater With A Virtual Field Trip To The Great Barrier Reef

06/21/2015 04:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure of living organisms on earth. The crew of Hōkūleʻa sailed to Townsville, Australia to explore the reef and "take their voyage underwater" after navigating from Hawaiʻi to Australia without any modern instruments. Partnering with Reef HQ, Hōkūleʻa crewmembers were able to make this Australian field trip available online through Google Hangouts. Students back home in Hawaiʻi, and students the Hōkūleʻa crew met on their prior stop in New Zealand, were able to watch the dive in real time. This was the first-ever attempt to invite youth in other countries to join a Reef HQ dive virtually through a free internet connection. The students were able to ask questions about the fish and marine species, and learn about keeping the reef ecosystems in their own backyards alive for future generations.

For those navigating Hawaiʻi's sailing canoe Hōkūleʻa around the world, pairing indigenous voyaging with cutting-edge technology is a dream come true. "We are voyaging around the world to ask people to come together for our oceans, environment, and future," said captain Nainoa Thompson. "Our goal is for this canoe to be a classroom that brings tradition and technology together. We think that through new forms of education, young people can care about our earth and gain the tools to take care of it."

"It makes me realize what we can do with technology right now and how powerful it is to be able to connect with people around the world," said Hawaiian student Maleko Lorenzo. "As we mālama honua and think about how we are taking care of this earth . . . it's important for me to be able to connect with other cultures and other people around the world and see what they are doing."

http://www.hokulea.com/underwater-field-trip/See the underwater field trip here!

The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines will cover over 60,000 nautical miles, 100 ports, and 27 countries through June 2017. All photos and videos © 2014 Polynesian Voyaging Society and ʻŌiwi TV. Learn more about the Worldwide Voyage with 3-minute video and track them live as the canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia travel through Australia and Hawaiʻi.