Hokule'a to be treated for wood-eating ants ahead of voyage
By Mileka Lincoln| May 15, 2014 at 8:04 PM HST - Updated July 20 at 5:07 PM
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hokule'a is just days away from sailing to Hilo for the launch of the worldwide voyage, "Malama Honua", later this month, but Thursday morning the focus was on treating the canoe for ants.
Officials say experts from the Department of Agriculture have identified the insects as Singapore ants, an invasive species that stings when it bites and eats wood. Crew members discovered the ants during an inspection earlier this week.
"We're going to be visiting a number of fragile island environments and we just think it is environmentally responsible to not transport any kind of insects to these pristine environments so we just doing due diligence," said Pwo Kalepa Baybayan, one of Hokule'a's captains. "It's the most environmentally responsible act that we can do and our mission is about 'Malama Honua' -- stewarting the planet."
Officials say the fumigation process is environmentally-friendly and has been approved by both the EPA and the Coast Guard.
The tent is scheduled for removal at midnight Friday, at which point, the canoe will be re-inspected.
Hokule'a and her sister escort canoe is still expected to leave for Hawai'i Island on schedule this Saturday. Both canoes are set for departure to Tahiti, the first leg of the worldwide voyage, later this month.