Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in December - 'opihi

What's Happening in Hawaii 
During the 3rd Week in December

Kāpeku ka leo o ke kai,
o ho'oilo ka malama.
When the voice of the sea is harsh, 
the winter months have come.

 December usually brings the year's largest surf, generated by storms in the North Pacific. Kāpeku ("harsh") describes the thunder of big surf and refers to the ancient practice of noisily splashing the water to scare fish into a net. The winter waves have a similar effect, stirring the ocean bottom to depths as great as 240 feet, dislodging a variety of creatures and washing them to shore.
On the islands' northern and western coasts, this is a particularly dangerous time to pick 'opihi (limpets) but a good time to look for sea life on the beaches. In doing so, don't ignore the sand under your feet. The turbulence of storm surf helps create the beaches by bringing ashore the remains of millions of tiny organisms. Much of the white sand of Hawai'i is composed of shells of single-celled animals (Foraminifera, a kind of protozoa), which feed on oceanic bacteria. Some, like the "paper shell" depicted above, grow as large as a quarter of an inch across.

Images and text from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in December - Mauna kea

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 2nd Week in December:

Mauna Kea
Photo by C. Tucker

The first snow comes to Mauna Kea about now, though it sometimes happens sooner. Snow may also fall on Mauna Loa and Haleakalā, but it lasts longest on Mauna Kea, whose very name means "white mountain." Poli'ahu, the goddess of snow and sister of Pele, was called  ka wahine kapa hau anu o Mauna Kea, "the woman who wears the cold snow cape of Mauna Kea."
Mauna Kea (foreground) and Mauna Loa. 
Photo by C. Tucker.

Generally ill-equipped for cold, Hawaiians stayed inside by wood fires when the weather got bitter. Naueue ka hi'u o ka i'a lewa i ke kai, says a proverb about this time of year: "The tails of the fish that move in the sea tremble." Even the fish are shivering.

Text taken from "Hawai'i: A Calendar of Natural Events" 
published by Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 1st week in December - Makali'i

What's Happening in Hawai'i
during the 1st Week in December (Makali'i):

According to one legend, this month takes its name from a great navigator who steered the first canoes to the islands. Maka means "eyes" and li'i is short for ali'i, so his name can be translated "Eyes of the Chief," indicating his importance and prowess at steering by the stars. The Pleiades are also called the Makali'i, perhaps because of their use in the ancient science of celestial navigation.

Ilima on Oahu.
Photo by C. Tucker.

It is said that the hero Makali'i was a great farmer as well as steersman and that his name was given to December because it is the month when he planted his crops. Tradition also says that it is the time when 'ilima (Sida fallax) withers and ko'oko'olau (Bidens spp.) blossoms. 'Ilima is a dryland plant famous today for the flowers it gives to the lei of O'ahu. In the old days, along with ko'oko'olau, it was equally valued for its many medicinal uses. A proverb says, Ola no i ka pua o ka 'ilima - "There is healing in the 'ilima blossom."

'Ilima at Mokolii on Oahu.

Drawn image and text taken from "Hawai'i: A Calendar of Natural Events" 
published by Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 4th week in November: 'amakihi

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 4th week in November:

Starting this week, 'amakihi are starting to nest in high, native forests on the island of Hawai'i. Although breeding at this time of year is unusual for Hawaiian birds, 'amakihi and nēnē have both developed this behavior. Perhaps there is a greater availability of food available during the rainy season.

The Hawai‘i ‘amakihi (Hemignathus virens) is a small generalist Hawaiian honeycreeper (Family: Fringillidae) that occurs on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, and Moloka‘i. Until 1995, the Hawai‘i ‘amakihi, and the O‘ahu 'amakihi (H. flavus) and Kaua‘i ‘amakihi (H. kauaiensis) were considered a single species: the common ‘amakihi (H. virens).

Plumage of all species is similar; males are yellow-green to olive in color, and females are generally similar, but duller. All have decurved bills.

Hawai‘i ‘amakihi are generalized foragers that most often glean arthropods from the leaves, blossoms, twigs, branches, and less frequently from tree trunks of a variety of trees, ferns, and shrubs. This species feeds on nectar predominately from the flowers of ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha), māmane (Sophora chrysophylla), and native lobelias (Campanulaceae), but also forages on flowers of a number of other native and non-native plants. Hawai‘i ‘amakihi also eats fruit from native and non-native plants, but predominately from pilo (Coprosma spp.).

Hawai'i 'amakihi forages alone, in pairs, in family groups, or in mixed flocks. Courtship behavior is somewhat complex and includes courtship chases, advertising displays, and courtship feeding. Pairs will remain together for successive breeding seasons. The pair selects a nest site, the female builds an open-cup nest, then lays two or three eggs. Only females incubate eggs and brood nestlings. Males deliver food to females who then feed nestlings. Fledglings are dependent on parents for up to three months. The Hawai‘i ‘amakihi usually raise two broods in a season.

Drawn images taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events" 
published by Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989
For more info about 'amakihi, and to see photos, visit the Hawaii Comprehensive Conservation Strategy forest bird fact sheets.

Or click on the names below:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in November - Humpback Whales

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 3rd week in November:
Humpback whales are now beginning to arrive for their annual, five-month stay in island waters. Humpbacks come to calve, and preferring warm, sheltered water for this purpose, they can often be seen from shore. Arrivals can increase in December and January, with the peak population being reached in February, when much of the calving occurs. 

At least a few humpbacks winter near each of the main islands, but they can be found in greatest numbers in the enclosed waters off Maui's southern flank and over a shallow bank west of Moloka'i.

Of the several hundred adults present, perhaps 30 will bear calves, and some will also mate before setting out in April or May for their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific. Humpbacks are known for underwater song, and their music evolves while they are here. New themes are started and old ones dropped, so that they leave with a different song than they brought. 

To see a video of singing whales, visit the Whale Trust.org Humpback Whale Song site. This site also answers many frequently asked questions about whale songs.

Visit the Discovery Channel webpage to hear Humpback whale songs as well as noises from other interesting creatures. (You may need Quicktime, RealPlayer or Windows Media player to access these audio files. DOFAW is not affiliated with Whale Trust or the Discovery Channel.)

Want to learn more about the Humpback's migration? Visit the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary site to play a fun migration game.

If you'd like to volunteer your time and join others to watch and count whales this winter, visit the NOAA Humpback Whale Sanctuary Ocean Count Volunteer page.

Natural history info and image taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events," 
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Week in Nature:The 2nd week in November - Nene

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 2nd week in November:

Nēnē, the Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis), begins nesting on the upper slopes of Haleakalā, Hualālai, and Mauna Loa. Historically, at least five species of geese (family: Anatidae) occurred in Hawai‘i; today, only the nēnē, or Hawaiian goose, survives. Adult males and females are mostly dark brown or sepia with a black face and crown, cream-colored cheeks, and a buff neck with black streaks. Females are smaller than males. Compared to other geese, nēnē are more terrestrial and have longer legs and less webbing between their toes; these differences likely facilitate nēnē walking on lava flows.

Nēnē, Haleakalā National Park, Maui.
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

Nēnē pairs mate for life. Nēnē have an extended breeding season and eggs can be found all year except May-July, although the majority of birds nest between October and March, and most clutches are laid between October and December. Nēnē nests consist of a shallow scrape, moderately lined with plant materials and down. Pairs typically return to previous years’ nests sites, typically in dense vegetation; when available, kīpuka may be preferred. Females lay between two and five eggs which hatch after 30 days. Young are not fed by their parents; however, young remain with their parents for up to one year.

Nēnē, Haleakalā National Park, Maui.  
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr 

In 1951, the wild nēnē population was estimated at 30 individuals. Current population is estimated at between 1,300 and 1,500 individuals with 378 birds on the island of Hawai‘i, 295 to 325 birds on Maui, 720 birds on Kaua‘i, and 74 birds on Moloka‘i. All populations have been or are currently being supplemented by captive-bred birds.

Historical threats included habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and predation by rats (Rattus spp.), cats (Felis silvestris), dogs (Canis domesticus), and the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus). Current threats include predation by the non-native mammals listed above, exposure in high-elevation habitats, nutritional deficiency due to habitat degradation which may result in low productivity, a lack of lowland habitat, human-caused disturbance and mortality (e.g., road mortality, disturbance by hikers), behavioral problems related to captive propagation, and inbreeding depression.

Nēnē at Namana o ke Akua Haleakala National Park, Maui 
 Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

The goals of conservation actions are not only to protect current populations and key breeding habitats, but also to establish additional populations, thereby reducing the risk of extinction. Past and current actions include captive propagation and release of captive-bred individuals into the wild, predator control, habitat enhancement, research and monitoring, private conservation efforts, formation of the Nēnē Recovery Action Group, and public education.

For more details about the nēnē life cycle, and how DOFAW is working to protect the nēnē, visit the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy nēnē fact sheet.

Also, visit the HEAR.org nēnē page.

Check out Forest and Kim Starr's gallery for more beautiful images of nēnē and other native Hawaiian species. 

Drawn image from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989.

Text: Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, October 2005. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Week in Nature:The 1st week in November - Hawaiian pepperwort

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 1st week in November (Welehu):

A Welehu ka malama, noho i Makali'i.
Li 'ili 'i ka hana.

The month of Welehu is ruled by the Pleiades.
Work is done a little at a time.

Hawaiians reckoned the beginning of Welehu and of the rainy season from the date when the Pleiades, or Makali'i, rise at sunset - as they will this week. Work is limited by the storms and by kapu related to Makahiki. Another proverb says, "Rest the head on the pillow; Welehu is the month."

On O'ahu, at Koko Head and Lualualei Valley, winter rains cause sprouting of 'ihi'ihi-lau-ākea, the Hawaiian pepperwort (Marsilea villosa). Superbly adapted for life in normally arid areas, this aquatic native fern goes dormant in dry weather, dying back into fuzzy, rust colored runners and spore capsules that lie waiting to germinate. With rain, the runners put up shoots that resemble four-leaf clover, carpeting the ground in emerald green. If the rain is heavy enough to form a pool, spore capsules will awaken from their decades of slumber and release spores within half an hour. 

For more about this plant species, visit the Hawaii Ecosystems At Risk (HEAR.org) info page. View photos of Marsilea villosa at Forest and Kim Starr's searchable photo gallery.

To see additional photos of the Hawaiian pepperwort, visit the University of Hawaii botany webpage.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Week in Nature:The 5th week in October - he'e

00What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 5th week in October:

Pua ke kō, ku ka he'e.
When the sugar cane tassels, 
the octopus season is here.

Like the proverb about breadfruit, this one gives a botanical cue for food-gathering at sea. Again, the word he'e is used, but in this case, all clues point to an octopus. Sugar cane begins to form plumes in late October or early November, a time of year when large specimens of he'e mauli, the daytime octopus (Octopus cyani), are unusually abundant. He'e mauli frequent shallow water, living in holes on rocks and reef flats and feeding on crabs and shrimp. It is one of two octopuses common in Hawai'i, the other being a nocturnal feeder.

Sugar cane, , with tassels.

Hawaiians were first to cultivate in the islands, using it as a sweet, a quick energy source, and a medicine. Its blossoming was a signal not only to hunt octopus but also to enjoy a seasonal form of recreation: "When the sugar cane tassels, move to the sledding course," says another proverb. But don't look for snow. Hawaiian sledding was done on hills strewn with silky flowers and pili grass. 

  Pili grass.
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

For photos of  he'e mauli and more information, visit the Hanauma Bay Creature Feature page.

Text and  he'e image taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Saturday, October 23, 2010

This Week in Nature:The 4th week in October - 'ama'ama

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 4th week in October:

'Ama'ama, a native mullet, makes a six-month migration each year, beginning about this time and ending in April. On O'ahu, legend has it that schools of 'ama'ama swim from the leeward side to the windward side through an underground channel. The actual route is by sea, from 'Ewa around Koko Head and as far up the coast as Lā'ie. Mature 'ama'ama are called 'anae, and the Hawaiians distinguish 'anae-holo, migrating mullet, from 'anae-pali, cliff mullet. 'Anae spawn at sea before returning to the inshore, brackish water they generally prefer.

One of the principal fish in the Hawaiian diet, 'ama'ama are algae-eaters and were raised for royalty in a sophisticated, early form of aquaculture. Trapping nutrient-rich water from the lo'i (taro paddies), fishponds bred algae profusely and thus were ideal places to fatten 'ama'ama. The mullet was known as pua'a kai, or "sea pig," which could be given in offerings in place of an ordinary pig. Around Ke'ehi 'ama'ama were referred to as the "loud-voiced fish of Ke'ehi," owing to the noise fishermen made while driving them into nets. They also gave Wai'anae its name - "mullet waters."

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Friday, October 15, 2010

Find Your Footprint

We all change the Earth with the stuff that we buy, use, and throw away. This is called our human footprint. How your footprint changes the Earth is up to you.  Teachers, get your students involved and enter your K - 6th grade classroom's best idea to reduce your footprint for a chance to win awesome prizes for your school and classroom.

To enter, pick a theme—Save Water, Reduce Waste, or Save Energy—that your class would like to address. Write a short description of your proposal.  Illustrate your proposal, using one of the following formats:  1—take a photograph, 2—make a poster, 3—shoot a video, OR 4—write an essay.

The grand prize includes five interactive whiteboards, five sets of ActivExpression learner response systems by Promethean, $1,000 of National Geographic gifts, and thirty subscriptions to National Geographic Kids magazine for your school.

The contest is open Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers at a public or private school who enter the
contest on behalf of his/her class.

Entries must be received by December 3, 2010.  Enter here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This Week in Nature:The 3rd week in October - Hawaiian Bat

/What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 3rd week in October:

Your best opportunity to see 'ōpe'ape'a, or the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), comes at this time of year, when they congregate at dusk on feeding grounds near shore. The only mammal native to the islands besides the monk seal, the 'ōpe'ape'a usually keeps out of sight, sleeping during the day and leading a quite solitary existence.  

Pe'a can mean "sail," so the bat may take its name from the sail-like appearance of its wings. Pe'a may also mean "to turn and go," which describes the bat's zig-zag flight while foraging. Its ability as a hunter probably accounts for a legend of an eight-eyed bat that stole Maui's wife.

Though listed as endangered, 'ōpe'ape'a seems more adaptable than most Hawaiian species, roosting freely in non-native trees and even on buildings. It is believed still to reside on all of the main islands, with the total population estimated at a few thousand. The largest concentrations - and the best places to see 'ōpe'ape'a - are on the islands of Kaua'i and Hawai'i, particularly along the Hāmākua and south Kona coasts.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

*Disclaimer: The above information was accurate as of 1989, and statistics about the number and distribution of the Hawaiian bat may have changed since then.

For more current information, visit: the species info page at HEAR.org, the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy bat fact sheet, and the National Park Service's fact sheet about the Hawaiian bat.

Also, see the Honolulu Zoo's bat info page, where you'll find species information, photos of bats in captivity, as well as a history of two Hawaiian bats that were cared for at the Honolulu zoo.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Track My T-Shirt

This one of a kind web site allows you to explore the journey your t-shirt has taken. From its very beginning as a cotton seed on a farm, to every step it took before you bought it. Learn about the environmental impacts of your t-shirt and where the most energy is consumed on its journey.
On the site you can track 'YOUR' T or track a 'Random' T. The site takes you on a journey from the farm to the cotton gin, yarn spinner, textile mill, cut and sew, distribution center, and finally to you. At each stop you can choose different areas of interest to investigate through the interactive web site.

Lessons plans available throughout the site!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sip to Support a Garden

Jamba Juice and the National Gardening Association (NGA) have created "Sip to Support a Garden," an easy, feel good fundraiser for schools and communities that encourages nutrition, education, and sustainability.

Just register your school or public community garden group to join this swipe card program. Each time a supporter uses the swipe card for purchases at participating Jamba Juice locations, Jamba will donate 12% of the purchase to support gardens. 10% will be donated directly back to your garden organization and 2% will be donated to support “It’s All About the Fruit” fruit tree grants administered by the NGA.

Schools and community garden programs in the U.S. gardening with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18 are eligible.

Twenty winners will receive fruit trees valued at $500 and the Jamba Juice "It’s All About the Fruit" Youth Garden Guide. Trees will be selected based on recommended varieties for each area.

Applications must be postmarked no later than November 15, 2010.

More Information Here

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in October - 'Ikuwā

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 2nd week in October:

O 'Ikuwā i pohā kō 'ele 'ele,
'ikuwā ke kai, 'ikuwā ka hekili,
'ikuwā ka manu.

'Ikuwā is the month when the dark storms arise, 
the sea roars, the thunder roars,
the birds make a din.

'Ikuwā means "noisy" and indicates a transition from peaceful summer weather to the storms of ho'oilo, the rainy season, which begins next month. Another proverb speaks of strong winds: "The [flap of the] loincloth [flutters and] snaps in the month of 'Ikuwā."

Clouds, thunder, rain, and wind are associated with Lono, one of the four principal Hawaiian gods. It is Lono whose mana (power) brings forth plants for sustenance and healing, and the four-month Makahiki season, which begins about the middle of October, is dedicated to him. In old Hawai'i, the ali'i collected taxes at this time, usually in the form of food. Afterward, the harvest was celebrated with an extended festival. Warfare and work were kapu. Hula was danced for entertainment and in friendly competition with neighbors. Wrestling, boxing, and other games were the order of the day.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Friday, October 1, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 1st week in October - lobelia

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 1st week in October:

Another rare Hawaiian lobelia is entering its flowering season. Known only by its scientific name, Rollandia ambigua, it is a small plant with hanging bunches of large magenta or white blossoms. Along with six other species of Rollandia, it is found nowhere in the world except O'ahu, where it favors elevations from 1000 to 2200 feet.
In Hawai'i, the lobelia family adapted itself to many different environments, as honeycreepers did among birds and as land snails did among mollusks. More than 150 exclusively Hawaiian forms of lobelia are known, and they exhibit extraordinary diversity, ranging from small herbs to trees 30 feet tall. Compare Rollandia ambigua with koli'i (below) and ālula (August 21 post) for a sense of this group's rich variety.

Koli'i, a native lobelia that blooms in early January 

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

U.S. Education Secretary Endorses EE

During the Sustainability Education Summit, September 20-21 in Washington D.C., the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education unveiled a new, coordinated effort to include environmental education in public schools.

The goal of the summit, which was hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with other federal agencies, was to create action steps for education, business and industry, government, and the environmental community to promote the transition to a sustainable, green economy.

Selected remarks from Secretary Arne Duncan's speech:

"It's been clear for a decade or more that education plays a vital role in the sustainability movement."

"This week's sustainability summit represents the first time that the Department is taking a taking a leadership role in the work of educating the next generation of green citizens and preparing them to contribute to the workforce through green jobs."

"Educators have a central role in this. A well educated citizen knows that we must not act in this generation in ways that endanger the next."

"Historically, the Department of Education hasn't been doing enough in the sustainability movement. Today, I promise you that we will be a committed partner in the national effort to build a more environmentally literate and responsible society."

"For the first time ever, the Department of Education will be supporting locally developed models that teach environmental science."

"Right now, in the second decade of the 21st century, preparing our students to be good environmental citizens is some of the most important work any of us can do. It is for our children, and our children's children, and generations yet to come."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 4th week in September - happy face spiders

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 4th week in September:

  Can you spot 2 happy face spiders on the underside of this leaf?
Photo: C. Tucker

Hawaiian happy face spiders (Theridion grallator) are rearing their young in 'ōhi'a forests of Maui, Moloka'i, O'ahu, and Hawai'i. Living under the sheltering leaves of kōpiko, pū'ahanui, and other plants, this native spider stays out of sight of insects and birds that prey on it.

There are dozens of different marking displayed by happy face spiders. Though its comical markings might seem hard to miss, in the forest light they serve as camouflage, and humans overlook the tiny happy face, too.

"Adult and keiki eating syrphid on Myrsine at Auwahi, Maui, Hawaii"
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

The happy face spider; Theridion grallator, is now also known by the Hawaiian name nananana makaki'i. After its discovery by scientists in 1900, it was lost again for three quarters of a century.

Very few spiders display parental behavior, but the happyface spends as long as three months caring for its offspring. A mother shares her leaf with the young and feeds them small flies that seek refuge under the leaf when it rains. Detecting a fly on top of the leaf in good weather, she will creep to the edge and throw a web to snare it.  

To learn more about spiders in Hawai'i, visit the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy spider page.

Also, visit the HEAR.org spider page.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989


Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in September - Mokihana

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 3rd week in September:

"I kahi 'e no ke kumu mokihana, 
paoa 'e no 'one'i i ke 'ala.

Although the mokihana tree is at a distance, 
its fragrance reaches here."

Mokihana fruit is reaching peak abundance now in the rainforests of Kaua'i. Though mokihana grows only on that island, a lei made from its fruit carries the fragrance to distant places. This is the famous lei of Kaua'i, and its sweet scent lasts for years. Thus mokihana often signifies Kaua'i, or the eternal in Hawaiian songs and chants.

Mokihana and its native relatives, the alani, are members of the orange family. Noticing the botanical relationship, Hawaiians called orange trees alani when the Brotish explorer George Vancouver brought citrus to the islands in the late 18th century. The scientific name for mokihana is Pelea anisata - Pelea in honor of the volcano goddess Pele and anisata because its fragrance is reminiscent of anise. (This plant is also known by the botonical name Melicope anisata.) Dry fruit was scattered between layers of kapa as well as used in lei.  

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in September - bristle-thighed curlew

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 2nd week in September:

Another migratory bird, the kioea or bristle-thighed curlew (Numenius tahitiensis), arrives at this time of year and stays through winter. Like the kōlea, it flies here from breeding grounds in the north - on the tundra of western Alaska. Kioea presently reside in greatest numbers on the unpopulated islands in the northwest part of the archipelago, but they may also be observed at uncrowded beaches on the main islands. 

"Kioea with Laysan albatross at Water catchment Sand Island, Midway Atoll"
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr  

The kioea must have been much more common in the old days, for Hawaiian sayings refer to it as the bird that prompts fishermen to launch their canoes. Its cry was said to be Lawelawe ke ō! Lawelawe ke ō!, which means "Take the food! Take the food!" Issuing this call in the early morning, it served as an alarm clock, signaling fishermen to get to work. 

"Kioea pack at Water catchment Sand Island, Midway Atoll"

Photo by Forest & Kim Starr  
For more photos of kioea and other birds, visit Forest and Kim Starr's gallery on the Hawai'i Ecosystems At Risk project website. 

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Malama Aina-Artists in Conservation

Looking for a FREE family-friendly event? Check out the Malama Aina artshow in Hilo to celebrate the preservation of our natural resources and learn about current conservation issues.

Opening Reception: September 3 at 5:30pm

Exhibit Open to Public: September 4-23, Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm

Click on the poster for more details

This Week in Nature: The 1st week in September - blue whale

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 1st week in September:

The blue whale, largest of the whales, migrates through Hawaiian waters at this time of year. Exactly where it is going and why, no one knows, in part because it keeps to the deep seas and in part because whaling has reduced the herds so much that observation is more difficult than ever. Happily, there are signs that the population of blue whales is on the rise.

Though one report tells of small whales being driven into Hilo Bay and later consumed, it seems safe to say that the Hawaiians generally did not hunt or eat whales, which they classed together under the name koholā. Apparently the Hawaiians dealt mainly with beached whales and valued them primarily for their ivory, known as palaoa, whose most prominent use was in the royal lei niho palaoa.

A proverb says, "Above, below, the upland, the lowland, the whale that washes ashore - all belong to the ali'i."

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Outdoor watershed study offered again

Teachers need to sign up by Sept. 3 for school program

Island students and their teachers will have the chance again this year to leave the classroom and study the watersheds of Hawaii Island.

The Kohala Center is recruiting teachers for its second year of the Hawaii Island Meaningful Outdoor Experiences for Students, an innovative hands-on science-based program that focuses on bay and watershed education in ahupua'a -- the Hawaiian term for designated land divisions running from the mountain to the sea -- of the Kona coast, Kohala Mountain and Hilo Bay.

Students will learn about their ahupua'a through classroom presentations and field trips, and identify and implement a scientific research project to work on throughout the year on topics such as coral reefs, forest flora and fauna, water quality, non-point source pollution, runoff, sedimentation or marine debris.

The program will culminate in a year-end conference.

Sept. 3 is the registration deadline for teachers. Contact info@kohalacenter.org or 887-6411, or visit http://www.kohalacenter.org

Teachers who participated in last year's program are encouraged to apply again.

The program focuses on intermediate and high school science teachers in Kona, Kohala and North and South Hilo.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 4th week in August - Alula

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 4th week in August:

Alula, or Brighamia insignis, is blossoming now on windward sea cliffs of Kaua'i and Moloka'i. Formerly found also on Maui and Ni'ihau, this rare and endangered native lobelia has made some remarkable adaptations to survive in its dry, windy, and salty environment.

In times of drought, alula lives on water it has stored in its thick stem and grows smaller leaves than usual, thereby reducing loss of moisture. its roots grow horizontally to provide footing in the thin soil and crevasses of cliff faces, and its base is rounded, enabling it to sway a little with the stiffest gusts of wind.

Owing to these adaptations, alula is a hardy and long-lived plant, with individuals reaching heights of more than twelve feet. Unfortunately, it now faces threats for which the centuries of evolution have not prepared it, including predation by goats, competition from foreign plants, and removal by admiring humans.

Brighamia insignis is one of the plants being monitored and protected by the Plant Extinction Prevention Program, or PEP.

To find out more about Brighamia insignis, visit the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy fact sheet.

For more info, check out the National Tropical Botanical Garden fact sheet.

Also see the HEAR.org alula webpage.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in August

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 3rd week in August:

Schools of small akule, known alternatively as halalū or hahalalū, come into sheltered bays and harbors at this time of year. This fish is also known as Bigeye scad.

When word of their presence gets out, people with bamboo poles crowd beaches and piers day and night, landing shining blue halalū one after another. On Oahu, prime spots for this delicious fish are Poka'ī Bay, Hale'iwa Bay, and Honolulu Harbor.
Juveniles of several other fish also move close to shore in large numbers at this season. Swarms of 'oama, young of the weke (yellowstripe goatfish), appear in sandy shallows and rival halalū for the attention of pole fishermen. Throw nets are in use, too, as shadowy grey schools of moili'i - immanture moi, or threadfin - turn up along beaches and in protected coves.

*Disclaimer: Although some of this information is still relevant, it was written and published in 1989. If you are interested in more information about current fisheries and practices, please visit the Division of Aquatic Resources webpage.
Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ocean Adventures

A generation ago, Jacques-Yves Cousteau revealed the oceans' mysteries to millions of landlocked PBS television viewers, and inspired a groundswell of public awareness of the unique problems faced by the world's marine environments. Now, 30 years later, Jacques' son Jean-Michel Cousteau and his expedition team have set sail to explore dangerous and spectacular locales across the globe in the high-definition series, Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures.  The themes of adaptations, ecosystems and human impact are interwoven throughout the Ocean Adventures episodes and educational materials.

Honu, Sharks Cove, Oahu
Photo: N.Galase

The website offers new educational resources including Videos, Interactive Games, episode-based viewing guides, activities, standards-based lesson plans and in-depth articles.   They are aligned with National Science Content Standards and Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts.  The resources are  designed primarily for middle school educators and students and are appropriate for use in both formal and informal educational settings.

Jean Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures website

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in August

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 2nd week in August:

The first kōlea are arriving in the islands now, completing their flight of 3000 miles or more from their breeding grounds in Siberia and Alaska.

Clocked at speeds up to 70 miles per hour, kōlea make the trip non-stop and theoretically could fly twice as far as they do. Adults come first, leaving young birds to fatten up another month before the long flight to winter quarters. 

Kōlea molt from brown to nearly black before the return in April, but in any season, their plumage is flecked with the gold feathers that earned them the name golden plover.

Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr

Its beauty and behavior have made the kōlea one of the islands' most closely watched birds. In Hawaiian sayings, it appears as a metaphor for independence, wanderlust, mystery, transience, and ingratitude. In legends, it serves as a messenger of the gods.

Plovers were netted for food, but killing them wastefully was not tolerated. A story tells of kōlea pecking to death a man who caught more than he needed.
lea on Oahu leave for their breeding grounds on April 25th, plus or minus only a couple of days! Scientists have discovered that this is one of the most precise internal calendars in the animal kingdom.

Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr

Text and illustration taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"  
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Fair to Support Tri-Isle Resource Conservation & Development

Barnes and Noble Book Fair

This SPECIAL BookFair Event is to Support Tri-Isle Resource Conservation & Development

Friday, Saturday & Sunday
August 13, 14 & 15
9:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Proceeds will be dispersed for Roi Round-up efforts to control invasive species on our reefs and educate the public about these issues.  The Roi Round-up calls local divers into action to help remove three species of fish that became invasive after their introduction to Hawaiian waters in the 1950s, including roi, to‘au, and ta‘ape. An average-sized roi is estimated to consume about 146 reef fish per year!

Nationwide Purchases made in any of the Barnes  Noble 800 Stores And Worldwide On-Line, Using this ID # 10253227 Generate Profits for Tri-Isle Conservation & Development

Can't attend?
Visit bn.com/bookfairs to support us in assisting our community by entering Bookfair ID # 10253227 when you place your order 24 hours a day from August 13th thru August 20th