Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 4th Week in February - Laysan Albatross

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

Newly hatched Laysan albatross chick at Kaena Point NAR, O'ahu

Chicks of the Laysan albatross (Diomedea immutabilis), known to the Hawaiians as mōlī or ka'upu, are starting to hatch.

Above: A juvenile Laysan albatross at Kaena Point NAR, O'ahu

A mōlī begins to call even before its shell is cracked, and its parents respond, establishing a dialogue that lasts until the chick emerges, as much as six days later. Most nesting occurs on the remote northwest islands, but there is a large nesting colony at Ka'ena Point on Oahu. 

Full-grown members of this handsome and powerful species have a wingspan of more than six feet and sometimes can be seen in flight off O'ahu and other main islands. But the search for squid, their primary food, commonly carries them hundreds of miles out to sea.

Noting its keen attention to life under the sea, Hawaiians took the albatross as a metaphor, calling an especially observant person ka manu ka'upu hālō ale o ka moana - "the ka'upu, the bird that observes the ocean."

Visit the Comprehansive Wildlife Conservation Strategy fact sheet here to learn more about the Laysan albatross.

The above information comes from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
Published by Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

All photos by C. Tucker

Friday, February 19, 2010

Recovery Youth Conservation Corps Day of Service on Maui

On Monday, February 15th from 9:30 to 3:30, forty-five Recovery Youth Conservation Corps (RYCC) AmeriCorps members worked together during a day of service restoring Kanaha Pond on Maui.  Throughout the day, RYCC members removed invasive plants, planted native plants, and removed debris from the surrounding area. 

Click here to see the front page story in the Maui News!

Kanaha Pond is a 234-acre wetland adjacent to industrial buildings, commercial centers, and the airport in Kahului.  Despite these challenges, Kanaha pond is extremely productive and home to three endangered Hawaiian birds: Hawaiian coot ('alae ke'oke'o), Hawaiian stilt (ae'o), and Hawaiian duck (koloa maoli). 

Over 80 species of migratory shorebirds, waterbirds, and ducks frequent the pond. Native plants including makaloa and kaluha, species favored by Hawaiians for matmaking, are also found at Kanaha.

To find out more about the Youth Conservation Corps program and other ways to get involved, visit the DOFAW website here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in February

What's Happening in Hawaii
During the 3rd week in February:


On the atolls and islands at the northwest end of the archipelago, the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is beginning to bear its young. Already 30 pounds at birth, a seal pup grows rapidly during the next five or six weeks, increasing in weight to as much as 200 pounds. Throughout this period, its mother devotes all her time to nursing the pup and teaching it to swim, not even pausing to feed herself.

The monk seal once lived throughout the archipelago and, except for the Hawaiian bat, is the only native mammal remaining on the islands.

Biologically unchanged in 15 million years, it does not flee from intruders, and after centuries of human predation and intrusion into breeding areas, the monk seal today is a federally listed endangered species.

Its Hawaiian name, ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, means "dog running in the toughness" and probably refers to its awkward gait as well as to its doglike face.
Click here to visit a previous DOFAW blog post about the Hawaiian monk seal, including information about hiking at Kaena Point, Oahu.

Also, visit the Monk Seal Mania blog, where photos, frequent updates and even video will keep you up-to-date with Monk seal activity on Oahu.
Some text from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

All photos by C. Tucker

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 2nd week in February - 'Akohekohe

What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 2nd week in February:
  'Ākohekohe, the crested honey-creeper, displays its brightest plumage this month, probably as part of its breeding cycle. The ‘ākohekohe (Palmeria dolei), is the largest extant (still existing) honeycreeper on Maui Nui (Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, Maui, and Kaho‘olawe). Although primarily black, the plumage of the ‘ākohekohe is striking. Depending on their location, feathers are tipped with orange-yellow, gray, silver, or white. Orange feathers surround the eyes and extend over the nape, orange or yellow-white feathers cover the thighs, and the epaulettes are white with orange tips. Finally, the ‘ākohekohe has a distinctive plume of white feathers that curl forward over the bill.

Like 'apapane and other Hawaiian honeycreepers, 'ākohekohe live in the high, native forest and feed on 'ōhia lehua nectar. ‘Ākohekohe may spend up to 70 percent of the day foraging. But while 'apapane still thrive in this habitat, 'ākohekohe have become an endangered species, and are restricted to a 58 square kilometer (22 square mile) area on the northeastern slope of Haleakalā, which makes up less than 5% of their historic range.

This species of bird does not sing, but produces a random series of buzzes, croaks, and whistles.

To learn more about this endemic endangered bird, visit the
'ākohekohe fact sheet on the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) webpage.

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

Some information taken from the CWCS.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Professional Water Flow Workshop - Hydrus Hands-on Training/Workshop - February 15-17 2010

"Hydrus Hands-on Training/Workshop" at University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The shortcourse instructor: Dr. Jirka Šimunek , Dept. of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside (CA)

Course scope: The course begins with a detailed conceptual and mathematical description of water flow and solute transport processes in the vadose zone, followed by an brief overview of the use of finite element techniques for solving the governing flow and transport equations. Special attention is given to the highly nonlinear nature of the governing flow equation. Alternative methods for describing and modeling the hydraulic functions of unsaturated porous media are also described. "Hands-on" computer sessions will provide participants an opportunity to become familiar with the Windows-based HYDRUS-1D and HYDRUS (2D/3D) software packages. Emphasis will be on the preparation of input data for a variety of applications, including flow and transport in a vadose zone, subsurface drip irrigation, flow and transport to a tile drain, and two-dimensional leachate migration from a landfill through the unsaturated zone into groundwater. Calibration will be discussed and demonstrated by means of a one-dimensional inverse problem.

When: February 15-17 2010
Where: University of Hawaii-Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii

For additional information about registration fees and other details:

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Week in Nature: The 1st week in February - limu pahe'e

 What's Happening in Hawaii
during the 1st Week in February:

 A highly prized seasonal seaweed, limu pahe'e (Porphyra sp.), can usually be found this time of year, growing high on rocks in areas of heavy surf where fresh water mixes with ocean water. At other times of year, this limu seems to vanish, but actually it takes on a microscopic form, producing spores which will mature only in winter or early spring, when days are short and nights long. Pahe'e means "slippery" and very accurately describes the texture of the mature limu.

Hawaiians identified more than sixty kinds of edible limu, an indication of its importance in their diet. An old saying refers to seaweed as ka i'a lauoho loloa o ke kai, "the long-haired fish of the sea," and sometimes, especially for women, it replaced fish or other foods that were kapu. Limu pahe'e was so rare that it was reserved for ali'i and forbidden to commoners, but today related species are widely cultivated in northern Asia and can be found dried and packaged on the grocery shelf under the familiar Japanese name of nori.

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