Parents pass along many personality traits to their children—some slightly nuanced, others not—that seem to prove they’re biological members of the same ‘ohana. For siblings Kimi Werner and Dr. Randy Kosaki, that proof was found in their individual love and respect for the ocean, nourished in two separate families, generations apart. Maui’s Kimi Werner is an international champion freediver and spearfisher, conservationist, certified culinary chef, artist, and frequent host on the show, Nat Geo People. Her brother, Dr. Randy Kosaki, is the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Deputy Superintendent of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, specializing in research on coral reef fish ecology and coral ecosystems in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Growing up, Kimi never knew Randy. He was adopted at birth decades before Kimi was born and they had never met, until recently as adults. Yet, both were drawn to the ocean as a life path on their own accord. We sat down with Kimi one night to talk story and share a delicious fish dinner she caught and prepared.
Do you remember learning about your brother before you actually met him?
I remember this one question he was asked in an interview I read. He was asked about his favorite part of his latest expedition and discovering this new coral. His answer was, “My favorite part was when I got to take off that tech gear and go freediving—just freediving for fun.” I instantly knew he was brother. It was like I was reading the language of my own heart, just with a different accent. It just felt like we were two fish from the same family.
What were your first impressions of Randy after meeting him?
I’m so lucky to have him in my life. And not just for the missing puzzle piece of family, but also it’s just so rad to have this brother that’s this chief scientist who has become my authority on anything I need to know on ocean conservation. When I want to know how old a certain fish can get, or if it’s sustainable, or what its lifespan is, it’s just a phone call away.
How has that relationship developed?
I love the person he is and now he’s a huge hero of mine. I’m his biggest fan. I think he’s so cool. When I listen to him talk, when I see him in his element, when I see how he treats other people, I’m just in awe. I look up to him and it’s so fun to have his admiration, too. I aspire to be more like him. One thing Randy has taught me is that it’s so important that whatever knowledge you have, whatever information you have learned, to get it out there and share it.
What drew your life path toward environmental conservation?
I’m always striving to find my place in the ecosystem. I see myself as an animal that loves nature, that loves to eat fish. I definitely take from Nature, but I also try my best to give back. With everything in Nature there’s going to be a give and take. Every animal leaves some sort of footprint, but they also do some sort of benefit to the natural world. I think humans should be the same and a lot of times we end up tipping the scale by just taking, and not taking care of. I’m constantly trying to examine my decisions, my choices, seeing how I can give back. There’s harmony to it all, and it takes having your mind activated in order to do it.
Why is getting in the water every day and fishing so important to you?
Spearfishing is important to me because it connects me to the natural world and to the environment. Every single time I immerse myself in the ocean I actually feel like I become a part of that world. And being able to selectively hunt for my own food, one breath at a time, it feels like a gift from nature and it helps me to understand these animals so much more.