Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Sea Lions Zeno and Shackle

February 20th, 2015
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SAUSALITO, CALIF. — It took less than a minute.

Schoolchildren, teachers and other members of the public had lined up in a V-shape along the shores of Rodeo Beach in Marin, Calif., to witness the release of two rescued sea lions by staff at The Marine Mammal Center.

Once released from their kennels, California sea lions Zeno and Shackle, did not linger or hesitate. They shuffled quickly along the sand, making a beeline for the ocean. As they entered the water together, a smattering of applause came from the audience.

Then we watched in delight, as their two heads bobbed in the waves. It was a beautiful sight.

Zeno and Shackle head out to their ocean home after being rescued and released by The Marine Mammal Center at Rodea Beach in Marin, Calif.

Zeno and Shackle head out to their ocean home after being rescued and released by The Marine Mammal Center at Rodeo Beach in Marin, Calif. The two seals were rescued from the Santa Cruz and Monterey area.

Beautiful, because these wild mammals are returning to their natural habitat, where they should be. Beautiful, because they were being given a second chance — humans may have created the problems that hindered them, but humans can also be part of the solution.

What the audience may not have known is how much work it took to get the wild sea lions into the kennel, weighed on a scale, then carefully loaded onto a pickup truck and carted across the sand for the release. Staff and volunteers at the center all played a vital role.

The release was also a small, uplifting celebration in the midst of a sea lion crisis. For the third year in a row, sea lion pups are stranding along the California coastline in record numbers. While the center usually houses about 10 sea lion pups, it was taking care of nearly 100.  TIME Magazine on Feb. 18 explored whether the strandings could be caused by rising ocean temperatures impacting the diet of sea lions (squid, anchovies, mackerel).

"We call sea lions sentinels of the sea," said MMC communications curator Sarah van Scagen. "What's going on with them can tell us a lot about the oceans as a whole."

Zeno, a female California sea lion, was rescued from Santa Cruz in January. She was behaving abnormally for a sea lion, and rescuers who  picked her up confirmed she was suffering from domoic acid toxicity. Domoic acid, produced by algae, accumulates in shellfish, sardines and anchovies, which in turn, are consumed  by sea lions. The biotoxin affects the brain, causing lethargy and disorientation. It can also affect people, so the center gives the health department a heads up when it discovers a case like Zeno's.

For Shackle, a male California sea lion picked up from Monterey, the problem was simpler – he had been entangled with a fishing net around his neck that left a scar. But luckily, once the net was removed, he quickly regained weight and was ready to be released.

Releasing two sea lions together is ideal, according to van Schagen, because they can keep one another company. Sea lions are, by nature, social animals.

That seemed apparent — the pair seemed as if they were immediately bonded as they headed into the waves.

TMMC, founded in 1975, is the non-profit that recently celebrated the grand opening of Ke Kai Ola (The Healing Sea), the first monk seal hospital at NELHA in Kona, in September. With more than $3.2 million raised in funds, TMMC was able to build four pens with pools – two for juvenile and adult seals and two for pups, along with a fish kitchen, medical lab and seawater filtration infrastructure for the pools.

Ke Kai Ola's first patients were four young, malnourished monk seals — Kulia, Ikaika, Hala‘i and Maka‘ala — from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They were admitted in July, and released (nice and fat again) on Aug. 31. The center's current patients are Meleana and Pua, also from the NWHI, who were admitted as malnourished pups in September. Hopefully, they'll be released soon, too.

Sea lions Zeno and Shackle, are released and ready to head back to their ocean home.

Sea lions Zeno and Shackle, are released and ready to head back to their ocean home.

Treasures of Oahu

July 16th, 2014
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Mokolii Cove Pano

This beautiful panorama of Mokoli‘i Cove (Chinaman's Hat) is on display at Canon Gallery as part of nature photographer Nathan Yuen's exhibit "Treasures of Oahu" until end of July. Photo by Nathan Yuen.

Nature photographer Nathan Yuen hikes for hours to get to the most remote parts of Oahu, all in the quest to capture some of the rarest species in the Hawaiian islands. We're talking about singing kahuli (an endangered Oahu tree snail), happy-face spiders and ‘ohi‘a lehua found nowhere else in the world but in Hawaii. And, more specifically, on Oahu.

Yuen's photo exhibit, "Natural Treasures of Oʻahu — From Mauka to Kahakai," is up at Canon Gallery until the end of July.

Yuen, also commissioner of the Natural Area Reserves System Hawaii, spends weekends hiking along the spine of the Koolau and Waianae mountains looking for native snails and flowers endemic to the island of Oahu. He's interested in beautiful vistas as well as the easily overlooked diminutive details one might find along a path. On a regular basis, he enjoys visiting Makapu‘u at sunrise to see the colorful transformation of the ocean and sky at dawn, or heading to Mokoli‘i (Chinaman's Hat) and its cove.

"Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see the raw beauty of Oahu's coastlines and the native plants and seabirds that live there," he said. "It is my goal to showcase the unique plants and animals that live at these special places to give you a reason to protect them for future generations."

Find spectacular vistas of Oahu, as well as closeups of some of the unique plants and animals found only on the island of Oahu, sometimes overlooked while on the trail. Yuen takes multiple, overlapping photos to compose a large, panoramic image, such as the one above. Canon Gallery is at the Canon USA office at Ward Plaza (210 Ward Ave. #200). Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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A tree for every dancer

May 28th, 2014
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Merrie Monarch Festival director Auntie Luana Kawelu planting a koa tree at Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, Hamakua Coast, Big Island. Photo courtesy Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

Merrie Monarch Festival director Auntie Luana Kawelu planting a koa tree at Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, Hamakua Coast, Big Island. Photo courtesy Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

It's a beautiful concept. Plant a tree, honor someone.

Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, a certified B Corp Best for the Environment, announced in early May a new milestone — the planting of its 250,000th native koa tree on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Its goal is to plant 1.3 million trees as part of a reforestation initiative.

What would be more appropriate than to plant a koa tree for every dancer participating in the Merrie Monarch Festival? Hula, after all, is about a connection to nature, with mele celebrating the beauty of every isle, valley, mountain, forest, inlet, rain, breeze, fern and flower. KFVE initiated this legacy last April in a tribute to the Merrie Monarch's 50th year, sponsoring the planting of 555 koa trees in honor of every dancer at the festival last year.

This April, 580 legacy trees were planted, one for every dancer that competed.

KFVE General Manager John Fink says the plan is to sponsor every hula dancer participating in the festival in future years.

Pulelehua on Lehua[1]NathanYuen

In just four years, more than 650 acres of former pastureland have been reclaimed as native forest.

Besides koa, HLH is now offering the planting of other indigenous species of trees and understory including the ‘ohi‘a (see the beautiful lehua blossom, left, by nature photographer Nathan Yuen, hawaiianforest.com), mamane, naio, ko‘oko‘olau, kukaenene and both varieties of ‘iliahi (Hawaiian sandalwood).

"We are seeing the return of the koa forest and along with it, the endangered birds which historically occupied these lands — it's remarkable how fast it is happening," said CEO Jeff Dunster. What's more, this Legacy Forest is creating dozens of permanent green jobs, reducing the effects of global warming and most importantly, doing it in a way that honors the legacy of Hawaiian culture."

The forest's historic site was once the personal koa forest of King Kamehameha the Great, the first king of Hawaii, but was cleared nearly a century ago to make room for farming and ranching. But some of the old growth koa trees can still be found on site.

"The simple act of sponsoring a Legacy Tree, by countless individuals, has transformed this mountain," said Dunster. "Each tree has a story to tell. Each one was planted and sponsored as a living legacy to honor an individual, memorialize a loved one or to commemorate an event. This forest really belongs to them."

Sponsorship of a koa tree is $60, with $20 of it going to a non-profit group of your choice (Legacy has partnered with more than 100, from AccessSurf to Waimanalo Health Center). Also, $1 from every tree purchased goes to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. Sponsorship of a sandalwood tree is $100. You receive a certificate of ownership which gives you the GPS coordinates of your tree, according to its RFID tag, which you can find via Google Earth. The sponsored trees are never harvested.

To sponsor a tree, visit www.legacytrees.org or call 1-877-707-TREE.

Below, certificate I received for sponsoring a tree in honor of "Uncle George and Auntie Dottie" last year (out of my own pocket). Think I will sponsor one for my 3-year-old son, too (we planted a koa in our yard when he was born):

HLHcertificate

Congrats, monk seal artists

May 19th, 2014
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Grade 12 winner. Art by Allysa Pirtle of Laie. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Grade 12 winner. Art by Allysa Pirtle of Laie. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Congratulations to the following winners of the Monk Seal Foundation's first annual 'Conservation through Art' contest. The foundation received nearly 200 entries from students in grades K through 12 across the state of Hawaii and as far as Conyers, Georgia.

The goal of the contest, held from March 27 to April 11, was to engage the younger generation in learning more about the Hawaiian monk seal and the importance of what conservation of the seal means to them and their environment.

Students were asked to portray the theme: 'The Hawaiian monk seal, a living treasure' and were welcome to submit works of art through painting, drawing, sculptures and collages. The judges, including Wyland, selected one winner from each grade and an overall 'Best in Show' winner.

Here's a sampling of some winners. To see all of them, visit www.monksealfoundation.org/winners.

Grade 7. By Leya Leliaert of Kapolei. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Grade 7 winner: Leya Leliaert of Kapolei. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

 

Second-grader Chloe Zentkovich's drawing was voted Best in Show. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Second-grader Chloe Zentkovich's drawing was voted Best in Show. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Grade 6 winner by Aidyn Huh of Kapolei. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Grade 6 winner: Aidyn Huh of Kapolei. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

 

Grade 5 finalist by Jaca Buddenbaum of Conyers, Georgia. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Grade 5 winner: Jaca Buddenbaum of Conyers, Georgia. Image courtesy Monk Seal Foundation.

Conservation Connections

May 12th, 2014
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conservationconnecti#419936

Aloha, conservation workers...

Conservation is now at your fingertips, with a one-stop-shop for anyone or any organizations interested in conservation.

With ConservationConnections.org, the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance  offers a free, online community for people who want to get involved with preserving, protecting and restoring the precious ocean, land and cultural resources of Hawaii.

"This is the first web site of its kind, uniting a wealth of information for people to get plugged into conservation efforts," said Lihla Noori, executive director of HCA. "There's no better time than now for this web resource."

"Many people are aware of the need to protect and preserve Hawaii's natural beauty and resources, and they want to invest time, money and talent. However, they often don't  know where the places are located, let alone have information about these areas and how they can help. ConservationConnections.org will help bridge that gap."

Initially, ConservationConnectons.org will allow users to:

>> Search for conservation areas — or stewardship sites —  in Hawaii using name and location as search criteria, including Haleakala National Parks, Mokulua Wildlife Sanctuary and Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. You can search Mauka (mountainside), Makai (oceanside) or Maoli (cultural).

>> Search for a type of conservation activity, including invasive species removal, planting natives, nature walks and education/community outreach. For instance, a search for "native plants" came up with an opportunity to be a weed warrior at Haleakala National Park.

>> Learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

>> Seek research opportunities and internships at various conservation organizations.

More than 60 organizations in Hawaii are featured on the website, with more on the way. Down the line, ConservationConnections.org will also allow users to make online donations to no-profits through a partnership with PayPal.

  conservationconnecti#419938

Kamehameha butterflies

February 27th, 2014
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The Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) is endemic to Hawaii, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world. It is also Hawaii's official state insect. Photo courtesy UH.

The Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) is endemic to Hawaii, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world. It is also Hawaii's official state insect. The University of Hawaii is asking for the public's help in mapping these butterflies in Hawaii. Photo courtesy UH.

The Pulelehua Project is now underway, with at least 10 new confirmed sightings of Kamehameha butterflies by citizen scientists from the islands of Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture reached out to the public last week, asking for photo submissions to help map out the distribution of the butterflies to help determine how and why its population has declined.

The Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) is endemic to Hawaii, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world. They used to be commonly found up at Tantalus on Oahu, but no longer are. They are orange and black, but don't get them confused with common lookalikes.

Check out the number of white or light orange patches on the black area on the upper surface of the forewings — the Kamehameha has only three main white patches in this area (other species have additional white spots). When at rest, with wings folded, the Kamehameha also has a longer, pale patch or multiple pale patches on the underside of the hindwing. It has no blue-centered eyespots.

Many submissions have been of the Gulf Fritillary, according to the Pulelehua Project, which is pretty common around Honolulu. The caterpillars are red with black spines, and they feed on lilikoi and related vines.

The non-native painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui and Vanessa virginiensis) are in the same genus as the Kamehameha butterfly and look very similar — check for "extra" white dots in the black area on the front wings.

To submit a sighting, the university requests that you include a photo, which can be uploaded on its website. If you think you've seen one but can't submit a photo, email pulelehua@ctahr.hawaii.edu with a description of the sighting, location ad date.

You can also spot the eggs, which are tiny and about the size of a pin head on the upper or lower surface of the leaves of caterpillar host plants, particularly the mamaki.

The eggs are just the size of a pin head. Photo by Will Haines. Courtesy UH.

The eggs are just the size of a pin head. Photo by Will Haines. Courtesy UH.

It's definitely an interesting approach — inviting "Hawaii citizen scientists" to get involved.

For updates, go to the Pulelehua Project's FB page (to see photos submitted by citizen scientists). The first confirmed sighting of a Kamehameha butterfly on Molokai came from Waialua Valley yesterday. Another was sighted in a backyard in Volcano on the Big Island, located at 4,000 feet elevation, where the butterflies appear to be doing well.

Kamehameha butterfly egg, closeup. The egg measures only 1 millimeter in diameter. Photo by Will Haines.

Kamehameha butterfly egg, closeup. The egg measures only 1 millimeter in diameter. Photo by Will Haines.

Saving Waikiki

February 12th, 2014
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Volunteers are welcome to help remove three types of invasive algae from the reef behind Waikiki aquarium during public beach cleanups scheduled from February through October.

The Waikiki Aquarium recently received a $43,951 Community Restoration Partnership grant to continue its Waikiki Coastal Restoration efforts and research. The alien algae — Acanthophora spicifera, Gracilaria salicornia and Avrainvillea amadelpha — choke the reefs and crowd out native limu. They're considered a marine menace and threat to the beauty of Waikiki.

Beach cleanups will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, as well as on Saturdays, March 29, May 3, June 28 and Oct. 25.

"This grant allows us to further engage the public in our conservation efforts, which is a very important goal for us in 2014," said Aquarium director Andrew Rossiter. "We encourage everyone who has an interest in the ocean to join us for a rewarding Saturday morning out on the reef."

Volunteers will first  be trained on how to differentiate between invasive and native algae plants followed by hands-on removal experience on the reef using snorkels, paddleboards and buckets. Dr. Celia Smith and her team from the University of Hawaii Botany Department will provide the training. Starbucks and Diamond Bakery are providing coffee and snacks for volunteers.

Waikiki Aquarium's volunteers have removed thousands of pounds of invasive algae from the reef behind the aquarium over the decade in an effort to protect the native marine plants.

Other organizations, including Malama Maunalua, have also worked hard to remove invasive algae from Maunalua Bay (which stretches from Diamond Head to Koko Head) in East Oahu, with hopeful signs that the bay is being restored. Malama Maunalua also offers volunteer opportunities. On the windward side, a Super Sucker, a mobile underwater pump-vacuum, is used to remove invasive algae from Kaneohe Bay.

To voluteer for the Waikiki Coastal Restoration program, call the aquarium's volunteer office at 440-9020 or visit www.waikikiaquarium.org.

World Wetlands Day

February 7th, 2014
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Ramsar World Wetlands Day takes place Saturday, Feb. 8 at Kailua Methodist Church. Learn about the cultural, historical and environmental significance of the Kawainui-Hamakua March. Photo courtesy Nathan Yuen.

Ramsar World Wetlands Day takes place Saturday, Feb. 8 at Kailua Methodist Church. Learn about the cultural, historical and environmental significance of the Kawainui-Hamakua March. Photo courtesy Nathan Yuen.

Ramsar World Wetlands Day is Saturday.

Learn all about the Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Complex and how the wetlands are being restored for the endangered waterbirds of Hawaii at World Wetlands Day from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Kailua Methodist Church, 1110 Kailua Rd.

The family-friendly event offers:

>> Bus tours of Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh (advance reservations recommended at email@ahahui.net or 263-8008).

>> Walking tours of the lo‘i kalo at Ulupo Heiau

>> View images of Kawainui by nature photographer Nathan Yuen

>> Listen to Hawaiian perspectives on Wetlands, a lecture by Samual ‘Ohu Gon III, the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i and Waimea Williams

>> Listen to guest speakers talk about managing water for wetlands, agricultural opportunities at wetlands, sea level change and wetlands and restoring wetlands for endangered waterbirds.

>> Listen to music by Hawai‘i Loa & Pila Nahenahe and performances by Halau Ha‘a Hula ‘o Kekau‘ilani Na Pua Hala ‘O Kailua under the direction of kumu hula Charlani Kalama.

>> Kama‘aina Kids will provide keiki activities and a climbing wall

>> Buy native Hawaiian plants, local food, artwork and T-shirts

Learn about the stewardship of our valuable wetlands. For more information, visit wwwd2014.blogspot.com or the Facebook page.

WorldWetlandsbyNateYuen

See photos of Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh by Nathan Yuen at World Wetlands Day 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Kailua Methodist Church. Photo courtesy Nathan Yuen.

 WorldWetlandsFlyer

 

Papahanaumokuakea: Marine debris now viewable

January 31st, 2014
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A Hawaiian monk seal basking in the sun, as well as marine debris, can now be viewed on Google Maps. Photo by NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries.

A Hawaiian monk seal basking in the sun can be viewed as part of Google Maps. Photo by NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries.

Alas, now we can see marine debris at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, up close, without setting foot on shore (which you need permission from the government to do).

Google Maps has now captured the first 360-degree panoramic images from five new locations within the marine monument, which are sometimes referred to as the Northwestern Hawaiian islands. The announcement was actually made earlier this month, at the start of the new year.

View Larger Map

You can virtually visit Tern Island and East Island at the French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island and Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

It's the link to Laysan Island that gives you a peek of a Hawaiian monk seal (hello) plus the marine debris, pieces of broken down plastic that you can see scattered along the sand and vegetation. One image captures what looks like a plastic, laundry basket – now how did that get washed ashore of one of the isolated islands on Earth?

You also get a glimpse of birds, mostly on the Tern Island link, and a Hawaiian sea turtle at the Pearl and Hermes Atoll link.

Voice of the Sea

January 4th, 2014
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Learn all about the exciting scientific and cultural work going on in Hawaii and the Pacific on a new, reality-based show, "Voice of the Sea," which debuts Jan. 5 on KFVE.

World paddleboard champion and shark researcher Kanesa Duncan Seraphin hosts the show, which profiles local science and cultural celebrities while inspiring students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The half-hour show was developed in collaboration with the University of Hawaii's Curriculum Research & Development Group, Hawaii Sea Grant Center for Marine Science Education, with funding from the NOAA Pacific Services Center.

The first episode will feature Kimokeo Kapahulehua, president of the Maui Fishpond Association, who will talk about restoration efforts there. Seraphin also interviews experts from the Tara expedition, and experts on aquaponics, oysters, algae and volcanoes.

"Voice of the Sea" will air 6 p.m. Sundays on KFVE (Channels 5 and 1005).