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301 - Born From Fire

Só pelo nome já se imagina um paraíso, mas as ilhas do Hawaii surpreendem: são um território em constante transformação, graças aos vulcões ativos, consistindo num ecossistema muito precioso, único no mundo. Um verdadeiro laboratório da vida, de fazer inveja aos Galápagos!
by Julian Earwaker.

Hawaii is the home state of President Barack Obama, but this isn’t its only claim to fame. The youngest of the USA’s 50 states consists of a chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii’s ecosystem is unique but, according to Jim Gale, who is Chief of Interpretation at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island, it is under constant {yootooltip title=[threat]} threat: ameaça {/yootooltip}:

Jim Gale (Standard American accent)
We are so isolated, we are so remote, that what happens is that we didn’t really have animals come over to Hawaii that are {yootooltip title=[grazers]} grazers: ruminantes, que pastam {/yootooltip}. So our plants lost their {yootooltip title=[thorns]} thorns: espinhos {/yootooltip}, so we have {yootooltip title=[briarless briars]} briarless briars: rosas sem espinhos {/yootooltip}, we have {yootooltip title=[mintless mints]} mintless mints: menta sem a ardência da menta {/yootooltip}, so there’s no sharp minty taste, they’ve lost that mint.
So we have these plants that are not really adapted to herbivores, and so when, over time, people have introduced pigs, they introduced {yootooltip title=[cattle]} cattle: gado {/yootooltip}, they introduced a variety of different ungulates, you know, {yootooltip title=[hoofed animals]} hoofed animals: animais com casco {/yootooltip}, {yootooltip title=[ goats ]} goats: cabras {/yootooltip} and things like that, they destroy the forest. And it’s not like the forest isn’t strong, but the forest has not adapted to having herbivores, having grazers, having {yootooltip title=[choppers]} choppers: animais que usam os dentes para mastigar/cortar {/yootooltip}, having rodentalia coming in and literally just destroy the forest.

And, says Jim Gale, Hawaii faces an enormous ecological challenge:

Jim Gale
Well, we are, unfortunately, the extinction capital for the United States. We have more threatened and endangered species here than any other national park, or any other place in the United States, any other state, because we have such high endemism, and... again, we have plants and animals found here and no other place in the world, so that you could be missing one plant in southern UK, but you still have it in the northern UK, you know what I mean? But here, once we lose a plant, it’s gone forever. In some cases, we are down to one single plant, and with the rats that eat the plants, or eat the {yootooltip title=[seeds]} seeds: sementes {/yootooltip}, I mean, and the bio mass, you know, just the numbers of rats alone is {yootooltip title=[staggering]} staggering: impressionante {/yootooltip}.
There’s {yootooltip title=[daunting challenges]} daunting challenges: desafios assombrosos {/yootooltip}, every day, for us and our resource managers, to try to control the number of invasive species and to find successful ways to collect seeds, and plant seeds and get successful seeds to grow. And, then, to have a pollinator: do we still have the pollinators around? So I wouldn’t say we have control, but we have lots of hope.

{yootooltip title=[ Steam rises ]} steam rises: o vapor se eleva {/yootooltip} into the sky above the crater of Kīlauea on Big Island, Hawaii. Further down the {yootooltip title=[ slopes ]} slopes: encostas {/yootooltip} of the volcano, orange fingers of lava, more than 1,100 degrees Celsius in temperature, {yootooltip title=[ stretch towards ]} stretch towards: avançam em direção a... {/yootooltip} the ocean. Nothing can stop them. But they are {yootooltip title=[cooling fast]} cooling fast: esfriando-se rapidamente {/yootooltip}. New land is being created.
Hawaii is the southernmost (and westernmost) of the 50 US states. It is also the newest. A {yootooltip title=[ chain ]} chain: cadeia, série {/yootooltip} of volcanic islands, it lies deep in the Pacific Ocean {yootooltip title=[ some ]} some: cerca de... {/yootooltip} 3,500 kilometres west of Los Angeles. Born more than 70 million years ago, it is still growing. On Big Island, the youngest of the six major islands, Kīlauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. The island is also home to two other giant volcanoes: Mauna Kea, currently dormant, and Mauna Loa. They sit above a “hotspot” in the earth’s mantle on the Pacific plate, from which {yootooltip title=[ molten rock ]} molten rock: rocha derretida {/yootooltip} erupts as red-orange lava. “Here you can be so close to the pulse of the earth and the dynamics of the earth,” says Jim Gale, Chief of Interpretation at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island. “It’s still alive! We’re one of the few places in the world where you can see an active volcano.”

Mauna Loa is the planet’s largest and most active volcano. In the Hawaiian language, it means “long mountain,” which is appropriate because Mauna Loa stretches almost 100 kilometres {yootooltip title=[ in length ]} in length: de comprimento {/yootooltip} and 50 kilometres {yootooltip title=[wide]} wide: de largura {/yootooltip}. Hawaii provides a “laboratory of time” for visitors – and for scientists studying volcanoes and the formation of the earth.

Near the coast, the road has been {yootooltip title=[ overwhelmed ]} overwhelmed: recoberta, encoberta {/yootooltip} by the constant {yootooltip title=[ stream ]} stream: fluxo {/yootooltip} of lava that still flows into the ocean. Here crowds {yootooltip title=[ gather ]} gather: agrupam-se {/yootooltip} within a few metres of some of the planet’s newest land; steaming, cooling and solidifying. The {yootooltip title=[ boiling ]} boiling: fervente {/yootooltip} hot new lava initially creates a dead zone. But it doesn’t remain dead for long. Six months later the first {yootooltip title=[ ferns ]} ferns: samambaias {/yootooltip} and trees {yootooltip title=[ will take root despite the lack ]} will take root despite the lack: criarão raízes apesar da falta {/yootooltip} of nutrients. On Hawaii a whole ecosystem has evolved to live in this unique environment. “If Darwin had come here instead of the Galapagos {yootooltip title=[his eyes would have been silver dollars]} his eyes would have been silver dollars: seus olhos ficariam arregalados como moedas de 1 dólar {/yootooltip}!” says Gale. “Of the 14 species he saw there that had adapted and diversified, here he would have found 57. Hawaii is a spectacular place for wild, endemic life to survive and {yootooltip title=[thrive]} thrive: alastrarem-se, prosperar {/yootooltip}.” The other pele...
Near the ruined coast road and most recent lava flows, a short {yootooltip title=[ walking trail ]} walking trail: trilha para caminhada {/yootooltip} leads to ancient {yootooltip title=[ petroglyphs ]} petroglyphs: inscrições rupestres {/yootooltip} left by some of the earliest Polynesian {yootooltip title=[settlers]} settlers: colonizadores {/yootooltip} . According to Hawaiian legend, Pele, the goddess of fire and creation lives to this day in the caldera of the Kīlauea volcano and {yootooltip title=[ hides beneath ]} hides beneath: esconde-se por baixo {/yootooltip} the slopes of Mauna Loa. When eruptions {yootooltip title=[throw out thin strands]} throw out thin strands: espirra para fora fios {/yootooltip} of volcanic silica they are known as “Pele’s hair”, while small drops of lava are known as “Pele’s {yootooltip title=[teardrops]} teardrops: pingos de lágrimas {/yootooltip}.” On the world’s biggest volcano, the goddess appears to be getting {yootooltip title=[restless]} restless: irriquieta, agitada {/yootooltip}. “The last eruption was 1984 and we expect an eruption any day,” says Gale. “We typically get a Mauna Loa eruption every 20 years. So we’re a little bit {yootooltip title=[ behind the schedule ]} behind the schedule: atrasados {/yootooltip} right now!”

• Mauna Loa first erupted about one million years ago
• It has erupted 33 times since 1843
• The volcano is 4,169 metres high
• Mauna Loa is 35 metres lower than neighbouring Mauna Kea, whose summit is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation and the site of several giant telescopes
• Most of Mauna Loa lies beneath the ocean: measured from the sea bed it is almost 9,200 metres high – that’s taller than Everest!
• The huge mass of Mauna Loa squashes the sea bed like a mattress a further 8 km. The volcano’s summit is therefore actually some 17 km above its base!

{yoogallery src=[images/stories/galery/materias/ed301] thumb=[polaroid]}

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