Business | Wealth of Health Interdependence provides example for sustainability By Ira Zunin July 4, 2015 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Climate change is not simply the result of burning fossil fuels. It is also the product of a mindset that assumes natural resources exist for the sole purpose of human consumption and fails to consider that the skies and the oceans of the blue planet are not limitless. The truth is that our stewardship is indispensable. When the Hokule‘a recently arrived in Townsville, Australia, as part of its around-the-world voyage, Gudju Gudju of the Yidinji tribe came aboard the canoe and shared the perspectives of his ancestors who settled the continent tens of thousands of years ago. His message is one of interdependence. "All friends need each other," he said. "If you lose one friend, the other friend dies." Indigenous bees, for example, are fairly small, and they make delicious honey, albeit not in great quantities. The European bee is larger and makes more honey but it is too big to pollinate many of the small, indigenous flowers on the Australian continent. When the larger, imported bees dominate, precious species of plants become threatened, Gudju explained. The black wasp and the fig tree are also close friends. People are afraid of getting stung by the wasp, but the fig tree needs its friend to grow and thrive. Interdependence is as important in the ocean as it is on land. The Great Barrier Reef suffers from intermittent infestations of an invasive species, the crown-of-thorns starfish. Gudju Gudju said that the puffer fish naturally keeps the crown-of-thorns in check, but puffers are too often caught for sale as souvenirs, and now there are not enough of them to keep the invaders under control. "We are an old people, and we see our elders as libraries," he said. "I know the sea and the rainforest. We are all connected. Scientists can learn from us and we can learn from them." Several days later the crew traveled farther up the east coast of Australia to Archer Point. There we visited the Yuku-Baja-Muliku people, another of the more than 200 linguistically different tribes in Australia. These peoples have been variously referred to as "indigenous Australians" or "aboriginals," but they prefer to be referred to simply by the names they use to identify their tribes. Nick Hale is a member of the Yuku-Baja-Muliku tribe and has a leadership role in its ranger program. The rangers manage an initiative for children and adults to help them reconnect with the wisdom of their ancient heritage. The program includes a turtle hospital. There they rehabilitate "floating turtles" whose bowels are full of gas from eating contaminated, bacteria-laden food. The gas prevents the turtles from diving, making it difficult to catch food and impossible to rest on the ocean floor. Crocodiles are abundant in Australia, especially farther north. Unlike alligators, which are docile in comparison, crocodiles are smart and can be very aggressive. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and are also a critical part of the ecosystem, explained Hale. Crocodiles are the main predators of catfish, and catfish are the main predators of barramundi, a delicious and essential staple fish. "If the crocodiles were hunted down, the catfish would eat all the barramundi and we would be hungry," he said. As the Hokule‘a crew entered the Yuku-Baja-Muliku lands, the rangers made a cloud of smoke with indigenous herbs on an open fire. "This is for your safety and protection from our ancestors while you are in (our) country," said Hale. For 40 years, the Hokule‘a has sailed throughout the Pacific Ocean. These are its first contacts outside of familiar seas while on its three-year voyage around the world. Its mission, Malama Honua, is focused on sharing stories about caring for the blue planet. Learning the perspectives of the Yidinji, the Yuku-Baja-Muliku and their profound sense of our collective interdependence left us deeply inspired. ——— Ira “Kawika” Zunin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., is a practicing physician who is serving as medical director on a portion of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s around-the-world voyage with the Hokule‘a. Zunin is medical director of Manakai o Malama Integrative Healthcare Group and Rehabilitation Center and CEO of Global Advisory Services Inc. Please submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous Story L&L opens at Ala Moana Beach Park Next Story Queen's searches for 'sweet spot'