Inspiration Collaboration Story:

Scientists and Kupuna Name New Species

Sometimes new scientific discoveries can spark collaborations that include ancient cultural roots. During 2006, marine scientist Scott Godwin assisted with the "Census of Marine Life", a ten year international effort to assess as much marine life as possible, a feat never attempted on such scale. He helped lead the ocean expedition voyaging to French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to look specifically at invertebrates and algae.

While examining samples brought up from the ocean depths, Scott and a colleague noticed a crab that caught their attention, and they quickly agreed that this was a new species. Upon returning to the Oahu, Scott brought photos of the crab to a kupuna in the native Hawaiian community and asked her to give the crab a Hawaiian name, which he would publish as part of the scientific name. She decided upon the name "wanawana" which literally means "spiny", which described the look of the crab. The first part of the crab's scientific name, the genus, had already been selected, based upon it's relation to other crab species. In honor of her choice, the crab officially became "Sakaila wanawana".

Ocean Science Topics Covered

Biodiversity Invertebrate Zoology

Activities: Data sharing
Interaction Modes: Scientist-led field excursion
Frequency: once
Duration: a month, a week
Age Groups: Elementary, Middleschool, Highschool, Adult, Senior
Group Sizes: Small (2-10), Large (10-40)
Languages: English, Hawaiian