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Our Story

Founded in 2019, Kuleana Coral Restoration (Kuleana Coral) was founded by a diverse team of Native Hawaiians, scientists and ocean advocates determined to restore the degraded coral reefs surrounding their home island of  O’ahu. 

 

By combining indigenous and modern scientific practices, Kuleana Coral works in the essence of 'aina momona, with a goal of abundant reef ecosystems.

A view of Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii.

Our Story

Founded in 2019, Kuleana Coral Restoration (Kuleana Coral) was founded by a diverse team of Native Hawaiians, scientists and ocean advocates determined to restore the degraded coral reefs surrounding their home island of  O’ahu. 

 

By combining indigenous and modern scientific practices, Kuleana Coral works in the essence of 'aina momona, with a goal of abundant reef ecosystems.

“Restoring Hawaii’s coral reefs to cultivate resilient marine ecosystems, for the enrichment of the culture, environment, and economy of the people of Hawaii and for the world”

MISSION STATEMENT

Our Founders

Alex "Alika" Peleholani Garcia

CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Born and raised on the island of Oahu, Alika is a Native Hawaiian and multi-generational subsistence fisherman.  He attended the University of Hawaii, Manoa where he studied marine biology and aquaculture. While at university, Alika joined the Scientific Diving group and conducted various coral reef surveys around the Hawaiian islands.  Alika has served as a Firefighter/EMT with the Honolulu Fire Department for over 13 years.  He has over 15 years in Hawaiian commercial fishing and has led teams of SCUBA divers and boaters on various missions.  Alika is passionate about marine conservation, specifically by combining the knowledge and experience of local fishermen with modern scientific practices.  He believes this approach, guided by traditional Hawaiian values, will be the most effective in solving our marine resource problems.

Daniel Demartini, PhD 

CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE

Always drawn to the water, marine biochemist Danny DeMartini has studied on Hawaiian and California coasts from undergraduate through post-doctoral work. Danny received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in 2004. He completed his PhD from the interdisciplinary Biomolecular Sciences and Engineering Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2014. There he was advised by Daniel E. Morse working on marine biomaterials, particularly the adaptive optical properties of squid skin. He went on to complete a postdoc in the Marine Science department at UCSB, in the lab of Herbert Waite in the field of bioadhesion and loadbearing marine biomaterials. Since 2018, he has been teaching chemistry in the science department at BYU-Hawaii, currently as an adjunct professor. Danny is a divemaster, surfer, and fisherman and is passionate about spending time in the marine environment. It is his dream to give back to the ocean, and Kuleana provides that path. 

Kapono Kaluhiokalani

CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF OUTREACH

Born and raised in La’ie, on the island of Oahu, Kapono spent most of his life in and around the ocean.  He graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1998, and received his BS in Technology Management from Utah Valley University.  He has served  as a Firefighter/EMT with the Honolulu Fire Department for over 12 years, where he received training as a rescue SCUBA diver, rescue water craft instructor, and water safety instructor.  Kapono has noticed the effects of extreme weather, pollution, and overfishing, resulting in a decline in the overall health of our reefs and beaches. “Kuleana Coral allows me to make a change for the future of our oceans and the future of my community.”

Board of Directors

Michelle Van Tassel

BOARD OF DIRECTORS, SECRETARY

Michelle is a freelance writer and instructor of writing and literature. She has worked in curriculum development for public primary schools and university-level courses. As both a writer and an editor, she has worked in technical writing, creative writing, and grant writing. Her interdisciplinary graduate work in American Studies focused on race and ethnicity in American literature and culture. Michelle is particularly interested in the intersections of culture and science that relate to the Hawaiian coast as experienced by both locals and mainlanders. An avid scuba diver, she is committed to advocating for the coral reefs.

Stan Kimura 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS, TREASURER

Stan was born in Hilo, Hawaii, and has called  Aiea, Oahu home for 40 years.  He is a lifetime surfer, who spent his early years as a competitive surfer blessed to call legends like Ben Aipa his coach and mentor, which translated to his love and understanding of the ocean and Hawaii's beaches and breaks. Stan was also influenced in his early adult years by his dedication to hula and halau life, which integrated his love for the ocean with Hawaiian culture, values, language, and an understanding of aloha 'aina to instill a sense of kuleana to generations past, present, and future. Stan brings his life experiences to raising his three teenage children who are learning and growing into the next generation of ocean lovers and stewards.  Stan is currently a Fire Captain in the Honolulu Fire Department and has served in both Operations and Administration roles, including Grants Management, Communications Unit Leader for Incident Management Teams, Department Emergency Coordinator with the Department of Emergency Management, and HFD liaison for the Koolaupoko Community Resilience project.  Stan has BA in Economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and was the founder and owner of a successful freight forwarding company for 17 years (1997 -2014).

Matt Parry, PhD

BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AT LARGE

Matt currently works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration division in Hawaii. He received his PhD in Marine science from the University of Hawaii Manoa and his B.S. from University of California Los Angeles. He has now worked for almost 20 years in the field of environmental management and conservation, with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.  He has published numerous scientific papers and presented his work globally. He is an accomplished scuba diver, underwater

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© 2020 Kuleana Coral Reefs is a registered nonprofit organization under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.