Several curious carvings believed to have been created by indigenous people have been revealed and concealed by shifting sands on a Hawaiian coast.
In July this year, a pair of tourists from Texas stumbled upon the carvings or petroglyphs on the western shoreline of Oahu's Waianae Coast.
Details about the accidental discovery were released by the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) on August 8.
Tourists Mark Louviere and Lonnie Watson were wandering out to the Waianae coastline to watch the sun set one evening when they spotted something spectacular.
"For some reason there was a beam of light...just a beam," says Watson.
Watson says the light landed right on one of the strange carvings and made them turn their heads.
The two tourists actually saw a large petroglyph etched into sandstone, the DLNR said.
Upon closer inspection, officials discovered at least 10 carved figures, stretching over roughly 60 feet (18.28 meters) of the beach.
In fact, researchers found 17 carvings in the sandstone shoreline, including one that measured about 5 feet (1.5 meters long). These are believed to be at least 400 years old.
Most of these peculiar carvings are human figures, according to Alton Exzabe, a native of Waianae and a U.S. army archaeologist tasked to protect the site.
Some of the petroglyphs include carvings of the figures' fingers, which are exceptionally unusual on Hawaiian petroglyphs, he says. It is also rare to find petroglyphs exactly on the shoreline.
Although some locals say they have seen the petroglyphs before, no one has actually recorded them scientifically, says Exzabe.
This is the first time that the petroglyphs, which were created by aboriginal inhabitants of the Waianae coast, have come to the attention of the U.S. army and the DLNR's State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD).
Why The Discovery Is Important
Glen Kila, a direct descendant of the first aboriginal families that settled in Nene'u on the Waianae coast, says the discovery is important for Hawaii because it records the genealogy and religion of the natives.
Kila says it's very important to determine the lineal descendants of the area and their understanding of the petroglyphs, especially because the carvings can only be interpreted by lineal descendants who are familiar with the culture and history.
Officials from the DLNR encourage people to view and look at the petroglyphs but not to touch them. Exzabe says they will come up with a plan to further protect and preserve the site, which can be viewed by tourists for a short time.
Furthermore, the shifting sands have already covered up the strange carvings once again. The DLNR and U.S. army are committed to protect the petroglyphs, whether it is visible or not.