Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to Host BioBlitz 2015

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s diverse ecological zones provide refuge for many distinct plant and animal communities, including endangered endemic species such as the nēnē (Hawaiian goose), and the Mauna Loa silversword, which flowers only once in its life.

An endemic nēnē (Hawaiian goose) feeds on indigenous naupaka kahakai (beach naupaka) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

An endemic nēnē (Hawaiian goose) feeds on indigenous naupaka kahakai (beach naupaka) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The fascinating geology and biology are vital components of the cultural heritage of indigenous Hawaiian people. To better understand, appreciate and protect this natural and cultural treasure, the National Park Service and National Geographic are hosting a two-day BioBlitz species count and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival on Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, 2015.

Crater Rim Trail winds through the native rainforest surrounding Kīlauea caldera in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Jessica Ferracane

Crater Rim Trail winds through the native rainforest surrounding Kīlauea caldera in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Jessica Ferracane

Themed I ka nānā no a ‘ike (“By observing, one learns”), the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is part scientific endeavor, part outdoor classroom excursion and part celebration of biodiversity and culture. It will bring together more than 150 leading scientists and traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners, more than 750 students and thousands from the general public. Together, they will be dispatched across the park’s 333,086 acres to explore and document the biodiversity that thrives in recent lava flows and native rain forests of Kīlauea volcano.

“We are honored to host BioBlitz 2015,” said Cindy Orlando, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s superintendent. “BioBlitz provides an unparalleled opportunity to work alongside leading scientists and cultural practitioners to discover, count and add to the park’s species list; to explore the interconnectedness of plants, animals, Hawaiian people and our daily lives; and to protect this amazing biodiversity and rich culture in our park.”

In connection with the BioBlitz opportunity, the park is moving its 35th annual Cultural Festival from July to May this year and expanding it to include biodiversity. At the two-day festival, visitors of all ages will discover how native Hawaiians lived closely to the land as its stewards, embodying “I ka nānā no a ‘ike” principles that continue today.

Hālau hula Ulumano o Palikū, shown here performing in the 2013 Cultural Festival, return to perform in the 2015 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival.  NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Hālau hula Ulumano o Palikū, shown here performing in the 2013 Cultural Festival, return to perform in the 2015 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

The Biodiversity & Cultural Festival will offer hands-on science and cultural exhibits, food, art and entertainment, plus the opportunity to meet individuals and organizations at the forefront of conservation, science and traditional Hawaiian culture — and to learn how to join their efforts. The festival is free and open to the public.

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is the ninth in a series of 10 BioBlitzes co-hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service at different national parks across the country, leading up the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016.

Keiki (children) examine insects with an entomologist in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo

Keiki (children) examine insects with an entomologist in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo

“Each year, the BioBlitz evolves,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president of Research, Conservation and Exploration. “Last year we moved away from paper data sheets and used smartphones and the iNaturalist app to photograph, identify and map species finds, adding more detailed information to both Park Service and international species databases. This year, we are going to build on that and blend technology with Hawaiian culture. This exciting, holistic approach will enhance our appreciation for the amazing resources in this breathtaking park and establish a more complete model for scientific exploration in Hawai‘i and around the globe.”

A longtime partner of the National Park Service, the National Geographic Society helped draft legislation to establish the Service in 1916. It has given many grants to create and sustain national parks across the United States and has extensively covered the parks in its media for nearly a century.

The BioBlitz program is the latest successful collaboration between the two partners. The first BioBlitz took place in 2007 at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. Others have been held at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California in 2008; Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 2009; Biscayne National Park in Florida in 2010; Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011; Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado, in 2012; Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve outside New Orleans in 2013; and last year in Golden Gate National Parks in Northern California. Smaller-scale events take place throughout the year at various national parks across the country. For more information, visit nature.nps.gov/biology/biodiversity/.

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz has been made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., the Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation, Edmund C. Olson Trust II, Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Additionally, generous corporate support for the event has been provided by Kona Brewing Company, KapohoKine Adventures, First Hawaiian Bank, Roberts Hawai‘i, Alaska Airlines and Big Island Candies. In-kind donations from local business and organizations have been received from Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company LLC, KTA Super Stores, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawai‘i Forest & Trail and Aloha Crater Lodge.

How to Get Involved:

Public registration is now open. To be part of a scientist-led inventory team, participants must register online at nationalgeographic.com/bioblitz. Participation on inventory teams is limited and spots will be filled on a first-come basis. Children ages 8 and older, accompanied by adults, may participate in the free inventory opportunities.

Everybody can enjoy hands-on fun at the Biodiversity & Cultural Festival. BioBlitz base camp and the Biodiversity & Cultural Festival will be located at the Kahua Hula overlooking Halema‘uma‘u Crater near the Kīlauea Visitors Center in the park. No registration is required for the festival.  Entrance fees are waived for both days. To learn more about BioBlitz and the festival, visit nationalgeographic.com/bioblitz or call (800) 638-6400, ext. 6186. For more information about the parks, visit nps.gov/havo.

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