Archive for February, 2013

North Shore Cleanup Saturday

February 28th, 2013
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Join Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii for a beach cleanup on the North Shore Saturday (March 2). Meet at Turtle Bay Resort's West Lawn. Photo from sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org.

Join Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii for a beach cleanup on the North Shore Saturday (March 2). Meet at Turtle Bay Resort's West Lawn. Photo from sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is hosting a North Shore beach clean up from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday (March 2). Meet at the West Lawn at Turtle Bay Resort and follow the blue flags. The general public as well as participants of Wanderlust Oahu Festival (a four-day yoga and music event) are welcome to attend.

Shuttles will transport volunteer teams to Kahuku Golf Course Beach and Kahuku Point at the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge to collect microplastics to be recycled by Method Home.

The whole family is welcome to participate. Some fun games include a hunt for hidden glass bottles during the cleanup to win prizes, including tickets to the evening Wanderlust concert featuring ALO and Kaki King, plus day passes to Sunday festival activities, as well as kids' clothing from Patagonia, Hurley and Quiksilver.

Water, a snack, gloves, tally sheets and other cleanup materials will be provided.

For more information, visit sustainablecoastlinesshawaii.org.

Wisdom, 62, hatches albatross chick

February 8th, 2013
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Wisdom, who just hatched another chick at 62 (or older) at Midway Atoll, is shown here with a mate. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wisdom, who just hatched another chick at the age of 62 (or older) at Midway Atoll, is shown here with a mate. Wisdom's longevity inspires hope among those who are working to conserve the endangered species. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mothers, take note.

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross believed to  be at least 62 years old, has hatched a chick on Midway Atoll National Wild Refuge for the sixth consecutive year. The chick was observed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary early on the morning of Sunday, Feb. 3 and appears to be healthy.

It's a positive sign for the future of the Laysan albatross, an endangered species. The Laysan albatross has a wing span up to six feet and typically lives 12 to 40 years. But up to 40 percent of chicks die each year with stomachs full of plastic.

Wisdom's mate tends to her newly hatched chick. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wisdom's mate tends to their newly hatched chick. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species," said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Superintendent for Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Wisdom was first banded in 1956, when she was incubating an egg in the same area — she was believed to be at least five years old at the time. Typically, the albatrosses breed at eight or nine years of age, but can also breed as early as five. Since then, she's worn out five bird bands.

One of the greatest threats to the Laysan albatross chicks is "death by ingestion of plastic. Photo by CLaire Johnson/NOAA.

One of the greatest threats to the Laysan albatross chicks is "death by ingestion of plastic. Photo by Claire Johnson/NOAA.

Wisdom has likely raised at least 30 to 35 chicks during her breeding life, according to Peterjohn.

Albatross lay only one egg a year.

Wisdom is also believed to have logged about 50,000 miles a year as an adult.

"It is beyond words to describe the amazing accomplishments of this wonderful bird and how she demonstrates the value of bird banding to better understand the world around us," said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird  Banding Program at USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. "If she were human, she would be eligible for Medicare in a couple years, yet she is still regularly raising young and annually circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean. Simply incredible."

The greatest threats to Laysan albatrosses are longline fishing (they get hooked or drowned), marine debris (death by plastic ingestion, including adults who feed plastic to their chicks which lead to starvation), invasive species predators such as rats and wild cats and lead poisoning from lead-based paint used in previous decades.

First monk seal death of 2013

February 5th, 2013
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A young, male monk seal, known as RK68, is believed to have died as a result of

A young, male monk seal, known as RK68, is believed to have died as a result of a hook stuck in its throat. NOAA Officials believe his death could have been prevented if the hooking had been reported earlier. All monk seal entanglements and injuries can be reported 24 hours a day, anonymously, to 1-888-256-9840. Courtesy photo. NOAA Permit 932-1905#23331D

More sad news.

The young Hawaiian monk seal — ID tag RK68 — has died after the U.S. Coast Guard flew him from Hawaii island to Oahu last Friday for medical treatment. It's the first monk seal death of 2013, and the first from Hawaii island.

A necropsy conducted by NOAA Fisheries revealed that the monk seal suffered fractured ribs earlier in life, but more recently, it was the ingestion of a fishing hook that is believed to be the cause of his death.

NOAA Permit 932-1905#233315

The necropsy results reveal that the seal may have been hooked for several weeks or months. If the hooking incident had been reported earlier, officials believe they could have had a better chance of saving the monk seal's life.

“Early reporting of a monk seal hooking can possibly mean the difference between life and death for one of these critically endangered animals,” said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr. “We rely on the community to be active and mindful stewards of our oceans. Had someone come forward, even anonymously, to report this hooking when it occurred, we may have been able to save his life.”

“Many people today use the term ‘kuleana' but we all must remember that kuleana is not just about our rights, it is also about our responsibilities," said Aila. "Our community has a responsibility to help manage and care for Hawaiian monk seals. Hooking a monk seal is often preventable, but we know sometimes things happen beyond a fisherman’s control. However, reporting is almost always within our control, and when someone observes a hooking and doesn’t call it in, it means an unfortunate incident can go from bad to worse, and become fatal for the seal. We have an opportunity at this time to find solutions that will work for both the seals and the fishermen.”

NOAA staff tried to save the life of this young, male monk seal. Courtesy photo. NOAA Permit932-190523331B

NOAA staff tried to save the life of this young, male monk seal. Courtesy photo. NOAA Permit932-190523331B

The Marine Conservation Institute concurred, saying that the seal suffered from labored breathing but died before authorities could determine that a fishing hook had been lodged in its throat.

"As our seal population in the main islands naturally grows, there will be more unintentional fishing interactions with seals by ocean users," said Marine Conservation Institute spokeswoman Trisha Kehaulani Watson. "Fisherman and other ocean-users can be valuable partners in protecting Hawaii's seals as they are our 'eyes on the water' who can report hooking injuries, entanglement and other interactions immediately to reduce Hawaiian monk seal fatalities."

Another seal was reported with a hook in its tongue on Kauai yesterday afternoon (Feb. 4), with a happier ending. Fortunately, NOAA staff and Sea Life Park vet Beth Doescher were able to remove the hook, and RT12 made it back into the ocean today (Feb. 5).

Another young monk seal, RT12, made it back to the ocean after a hook was removed from its tongue. Courtesy photo.

Another young monk seal, RT12, made it back to the ocean after a hook was removed from its tongue. Courtesy photo.

NOAA officials noted that monk seal hookings appear to be on the rise. In 2011, there were nine reported hookings, none of which resulted in deaths. In 2012, 15 hookings were reported, resulting in three deaths.

The Hawaiian monk seal is a critically endangered species — only 1,100 remain in the wild, and their population is declining 4 percent per year.

All seal sightings, injuries and entanglements can be reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service (24 hours a day and anonymously) at 1-888-256-9840. Write the number down and save it to your mobile phone.

World Wetlands Day

February 1st, 2013
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Kawainui Marsh is one of the celebrated wetlands of the world. Photo from Starbulletin 2007 archives.

Kawainui Marsh is one of the celebrated wetlands of the world. Photo from Starbulletin 2007 archives.

Tomorrow is World Wetlands Day.

Celebrate World Wetlands Day at the Hamakua-Kawainui Marsh Complex and Ulupo Heiau from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 2) at 1110 Kailua Rd.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Ho‘olaulima are sponsoring the community event, which will offer tours of the wetland, live Hawaiian music and local food. There will also be educational exhibits and a climbing wall for keiki.

The theme this year is "Wetlands Take Care of Water."

World Wetlands Day, which also falls on Groundhog Day, commemorates the day the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty, was signed in 1971.

The Ramsar Convention, signed in Ramsar, Iran, embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance.

World Wetlands Day will be celebrated concurrently throughout the globe. Events are also planned across the glob — from  Uganda to Greece to Singapore and the mainland U.S.

A restoration of nearly 40 acres of wildlife habitat within the 830-acre Kawainui Marsh is expected to be completed soon. Read more about it (and see some beautiful photos of marsh birds) in this blog by nature photographer Nathan Yuen.