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High Above Kauai
Feb 25

High Above Kauai

By Julianna Razryadov, Curator of Horticulture; Adam Haas, Interpretive Program Manager

As part of the three-year planning and design process behind our upcoming Tropical Forest exhibit, Julianna Razryadov and Adam Haas are traveling to Hawaii to study first-hand the region’s biodiversity hotspots, natural resources and culture. Follow their adventures!

Arriving yesterday at Kauai, Adam and I immediately realized that though we are still in the Kingdom of Hawaii, this is going to be a different experience.  Each island we’ve been to has brought with it a unique climate, plant life, bird life, and all together feeling.  Coming to Kauai is like going to a true small town.  We spent a few hours discovering the town before we headed for the most thrill seeking part of our tour of Hawaii – a helicopter ride.

Hawaii from a helicopter ride

Adam was pumped.  I was… pumped but nervous.  Combating feelings of danger and excitement, the copter launched itself directly upwards from a small pad on the ground.  We flew over shockingly steep cliffs, giving us an appreciation of how truly young these formations are.  They are sharp and dark.  They look new.  We were able to tell, from above, where invasive forest dominated versus where native forests survived.  We were able to really appreciate the contours of the land as it hit the sea.  In fact, this bird’s eye view gave me the opportunity to see a hawk flying from above!  Not only was it exciting to see a Hawaiian hawk, but I’ve never seen a hawk, with wings fully extended, from above.  Quite an experience.  We went to bed still vibrating from the excitement of the flight.

Select photos © Julianna Razryadov and Paul g. Wiegman