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 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