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“Birth Control” for Mosquitoes Targeted at Saving Unique, Imperiled Hawaiian Birds

To protect Hawaiʻi’s unique, imperiled native birds, researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi are teaming up with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to adapt a ‘birth control’ method used across the U.S. mainland to control mosquitoes. Mosquitos are a nuisance and a hazard both to people and to Hawaii’s native birds, which are in danger of extinction from decades of habitat loss, predation and diseases like avian malaria and avian pox.

Scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are taking the first steps to adapt a safe, targeted, and efficient mosquito control method known as “Incompatible Insect Technique” to reduce the population of the disease-carrying mosquitoes that harm native birds in Hawaiʻi. Incompatible Insect Technique acts like a birth control method for mosquitoes and it has already been adopted and proven successful around the country and the world to protect human health and quality of life. A similar method has been used in Hawaiʻi for decades to control fruit fly pests which are harmful to local agricultural products.

Mosquitoes arrived in Hawai‘i accidentally in the 1800s and are one reason why about two dozen species of Hawai‘i’s remaining native birds are threatened or on the brink of extinction. Today, most of these birds survive at higher elevations where it’s too cold for mosquitoes. But as the climate changes, mosquitoes are moving up hill and bringing disease with them.

“We are already seeing the loss on Kauaʻi of the safe havens of higher elevation forests for our native birds. Mosquito-spread diseases are decimating bird populations and if we do nothing we could lose several more species in the next 10 years,” said Cynthia King, an entomologist with DLNR/DOFAW.

Just one of the 6 types of mosquitoes found in Hawaiʻi harms native birds – the one called Culex quinquefasciatus. Scientists and conservationists are working together to use a bacteria that is naturally-occuring in fruit flies in Hawaiʻi. It is called Wolbachia, and the research, which will be done in controlled laboratory settings, involves giving the male mosquitoes a different strain of Wolbachia than is normally found in them, to prevent them from producing offspring. To reproduce, most mosquitoes carry a type of this Wolbachia in their system. When male mosquitoes with the different strain of Wolbachia try to mate with females, there are no offspring.

“The process for mosquitoes is very similar to techniques that have been used for many decades in Hawaiʻi to control pest fruit flies for the benefit of agriculture,” said King. “It doesn’t eradicate the insect, but helps to safely reduce the population on a landscape scale without the use of pesticides and without harming any other species.”

The technique will not impact the other five mosquito species present in Hawaiʻi, though researchers hope to learn more in the process about control methods that could be applied to the mosquito species that affect human health. If tests are successful, the team will evaluate how to safely apply this method to Hawaiʻi’s remote native forests where birds still reside.

DLNR and its partners will also continue to evaluate other control options to expand tools available to control mosquitoes in Hawaiʻi.

Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair said, “Controlling mosquito populations will greatly benefit our endangered native birds. Mosquitos have only been here for about 200 years, and our native wildlife has evolved without them over millions of years. While some native species may eat small amounts of mosquitoes, there are no species that depend on them, as even bats are documented to prefer larger prey. Reducing mosquitos is good for nature and people in Hawaiʻi.”

Next Step Taken in Potential Recovery For Rescued Pueo

The cargo handlers at Hawaiian Airlines, like anyone else who spotted it, thought a dog or a cat was in the carrier that arrived at Honolulu International Airport for shipping yesterday morning.  Inside this particular crate was a pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, that made headlines across the state recently after a seven-year-old Oahu girl, her father, and another man rescued it from the side of a road.  DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) biologists and the veterinarian, who first treated the bird’s broken wing, believe it likely flew into some sort of line.

Yesterday DOFAW biologists Afsheen Siddiqi and Jason Omick transported the injured pueo to the airport, to be loaded on a Hawaiian Airlines jet for the short-hop to Kona on Hawai‘i island.There, staff from the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center met it to begin its rehabilitation and physical therapy.  Siddiqi said, “At the moment the pueo is stable and it is more active than it was when it originally came in.  It is still receiving pain medications for its broken wing.” She explains the rehab experts will determine whether the bird can be released back into the wild.  If that doesn’t happen it could be sent to a zoo for educational display or in the worst case it could be put to sleep. That would happen if the pueo continued to need pain medications because its wing did not heal properly. No one wants the pueo to suffer indefinitely. Siddiqi believes its prognosis will be clearer in 2-3 weeks.

7-year-old Malia Rillamas spotted the bird sitting on the side of a North Shore highway on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2017. She asked her dad Jonathan, to pull over.  Then another man, Brian Smith stopped and for the next 2 hours the trio watched over it, until an officer from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) arrived to take it to Aloha Animal Hospital. For their efforts the Rillamas’ and Smith were presented with DLNR’s first-ever “Citizen Conservationist” awards. Young Malia became the toast of her classmates and asked if she could name the Pueo? DLNR/DOFAW biologists said sure, and she named it “Sunshine,” or Pa ‘ana a ka la.

Due to their declining population the pueo is classified as endangered by the DLNR on O‘ahu only. The species is also protected statewide by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Pueo Resued Follow Up Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

EPA Conducting Pesticide Poisoning Training in Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced upcoming trainings for health care workers on how to recognize and treat pesticide poisonings. The classes will be conducted by the Migrant Clinicians Network, with co-sponsors Hawaii Department of Health, the Hawaii Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, with funding from the EPA.

“Quick and accurate identification of pesticide poisoning is important to provide immediate patient care,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These workshops will provide health care workers with the tools they need in such critical situations.”

The trainings are accredited courses that will focus on key decision points in the diagnosis of pesticide exposures and will highlight the usefulness of the EPA publication, “Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, 6th edition”. Copies will be provided to all participants. Through interactive case studies, this training will illustrate effective recognition and treatment of patients who may have been exposed to pesticides.

“The Department of Health is grateful for the partnerships that came together to bring this specialized medical training to the healthcare communities on Kauai and Oahu,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “We urge health care professionals to take advantage of this important learning opportunity, and expect to see more offered in this area.”

The classes will be held:

Kauai – March 6, at 9:30 am and 1 pm at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, 4643 Waimea Canyon Drive, Waimea, HI, Conference Room AB. For more information and registration on the Kauai classes please contact Julie Sommers, (808) 338-9474 – jsommers@hhsc.org or Cheryl Tennberg, ctennberg@hhsc.org

Oahu – March 7, at 9:30 am at the AFFES Building, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 5th floor Conference Room. For more information and registration on the Oahu class please contact Amy K. Liebman, (512) 579-4535, aliebman@migrantclinician.org or Fenix Grange, (808) 586-4248, fenix.grange@doh.hawaii.gov

Heroes in the Fight Against Invasive Species Honored

Hawaii’s 5th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) starts today with a series of volunteer opportunities, and will end with a ceremony in Governor David Ige’s office to recognize people and organizations who’ve been instrumental in the fight against invasive species.

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” Events included a proclamation from Governor Ige, an awards ceremony, a student video contest, community presentations, and numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the state.

Volunteer Opportunities

As part of HISAW, partner organizations around the state are hosting volunteer opportunities for the public to help protect Hawaii from invasive species. This is a great chance to meet people working in conservation and learn about invasive species management. Full event details and contact information are available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/. Please RSVP to reserve a spot!

Kauai

  • February 25, 8-10am: beach cleanup and invasive species removal at Kahili Beach Preserve, organized by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
  • February 25, 9-10am: Plant Pono workshop, organized by Kauai Nursery and Landscaping, Inc, and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • February 28, 9am-12pm: Weed control and wetland restoration at Huleia Wetland, organized by Malama Huleia and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • March 2, 8:30am: Invasive weed control in Kokee State Park with the Kokee Resource Conservation Program and the Kauai Invasiv Species Commitee

Oahu

  • February 26, 9am-12pm: Invasive algae workday in Maunalua Bay, organized by Malama Maunalua and Pono Pacific
  • February 27, 9am-3pm: Trailwork and fencing at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, organized by the Oahu Native Ecosystem Protection and Management Program, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
  • February 28, 8:30am-5pm: Invasive weed control on Mt Kaala with the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program
  • February 28: Invasive weed control in Waikane Valley, with the Ohulehule Forest Conservancy

Hawaii Island

  • March 1, 9am: Albizia control training and workday in Hawaiian Paradise Park, Puna. Organized by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee
  • March 1, 5:30-8pm: Little Fire Ant Management Workshop in Kona, by the Hawaii Ant Lab and the County of Hawaii

2017 HISAW Awards

 

COMMUNITY HERO

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes The Pacific American Foundation for their efforts to reduce invasive species impacts to the Waikalua Loko I’a. During 2016, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF) diligently worked to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species to the Waikalua fishpond. By positively engaging with the local community, the PAF has shown an outstanding commitment to the continued to protection and preservation this historic community resource.

BUSINESS LEADER

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Serina Marchi, of Seascapes Nursery for her efforts to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive species. Serina is the Owner of Kauai Seascapes Nursery on the North Shore of Kauai. Seascapes Nursery is a family owned business operating on Kauai for over 30 years and is one of the largest nurseries on the island. Serina has shown a very strong interest in helping to minimize the spread and introduction of invasive species by supporting Kauai Invasive Species Committee’s (KISC) Pono Endorsement Program. In April 2016, Seascapes Nursery became one of the first nurseries to become endorsed. When choosing the best management practices for her business to follow, Serina has gone above and beyond the minimum requirements to become Pono Endorsed. She not only chose to immediately discontinue the sale of the Pono Endorsement Program “Black List” plants, but also the “Phase Out” list plants”. Her actions during 2016, and continued dedication to reducing the introduction and spread of invasive species will help to minimize future impacts of invasive species on Kauai.

GREATEST HIT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Solomon Champion for his efforts in stopping the spread of Miconia calvescens on Oahu. During a routine aerial survey, Solomon spotted an immature Miconia tree beneath the canopy on the leeward side of the Ko’olau Range within the Waiawa watershed. This particular individual has been identified as the farthest documented tree within an intact native forest, as well as an extension into a new watershed. By spotting this individual tree, Solomon has helped to protect the Waiawa watershed and prevent the spread of a highly invasive species.

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Shawn Baliaris for his efforts relating to reporting and stopping the spread of Mongoose on Kauai. As a proactive community member, Shawn promptly reported sighting a Mongoose on Kauai to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). His diligent action allowed for rapid response from the appropriate agencies, and clearly highlights the usefulness of the 643PEST reporting system, and how the community can personally take actions to protect Hawaii from invasive species.

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

The Hawai’i Invasive Species Council recognizes Carolyn Dillon for her outstanding community efforts and her work controlling Little Fire Ants on Hawaii Island. Throughout 2016 Carolyn has diligently worked to organize her community in a coordinated effort to combat Little Fire Ants (LFA) in her community in Holualoa, West Hawaii Island. Beginning in Late 2015, she became aware of the size of the infestation in her neighborhood and took it upon her to engage community members to treat this pest.  More recently, Carolyn has formed a LFA coalition on the Big Island consisting of members of the County Council and State Legislature, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Department of Health, the Governor’s Liaison, and the Kohala Center, with the express purpose of furthering LFA education and training, as well as mapping the West Hawaii Infestations. The coalition intends to train business owners on LFA best management practices in order to provide treatment services to homeowners. As a community organizer, Carolyn moved extremely swiftly to increase awareness and has brought many organizations to the table to work together. Her actions and continued dedication showcases the need for community involvement in the fight against invasive species.

MAUI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes the Community of Haiku Hill for their efforts to control Coqui frogs on the Island of Maui. Haiku Hill is a small a suburb of 39 properties along the border of Maliko Gulch, the site of a major infestation of coqui frogs on Maui. Over the last decade, the Haiku Hill community has transformed from a group of concerned homeowners reporting frogs to partners in coqui control. In 2016 the community truly took matters into their own hands, building tanks, purchasing sprayers, cutting back vegetation, and advocating to funders to address coqui on Maui. Residents sprayed over 1600 gallons of citric acid on their own properties, facilitated a neighborhood citric and sprayer distribution center, and spent countless hours keeping the coqui from spreading from their neighborhood. Their effort not only reduce the frog density in their community, but also helps to stop the spread of coqui to new areas.

OAHU MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Sandy Webb for her efforts to incorporate invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures Program. Sandy has encouraged her students to delve deeper into citizen science by incorporating invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures program (YES! Futures). http://www.yes-futures.org/about/. This interdisciplinary program she helped found with other Mililani teachers allows students to utilize the skills they develop in many of their classes to address problems in their community and build relevance into their educational experience.  For the past two years, Sandy has lead the Little Fire Ant (LFA) Hoike Activity independently in her classes; resulting in the submittal of 269 samples from the Mililani area in the past two years, with 134 samples submitted in 2016 alone. By incorporating invasive species into her teaching, Sandy has encouraged her students to students learn about relevant issues relating to invasive species impacts, and become part of the solution.

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Kawika Winter for his efforts to protect priority watershed areas and control the spread of invasive species on the island of Kauai. As part of his role as the Director of Limahuli Botanical Garden and Preserve, Kawika has played a crucial role in the protection and preservation over 1000 acres of priority watershed area on the north shore of Kauai.  In addition, Kawika aims to create a model of a functioning, 21st-century ahupua`a. This model focuses on a mountain-to-sea resource management strategy and includes both modern and traditional techniques. By incorporating landscape scale invasive species control efforts, native plant restoration, sustainable fisheries practices, and community engagement into his management practices, Kawika has demonstrated a lasting dedication to protecting and restoring key resources on the Island of Kauai.

DLNR Announces Opening of 2017 Big Island Spring Bearded Turkey Season

The Department of Land and Natural Resources announces the opening of the 2017 Spring Bearded Turkey Hunting Season on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

The spring season will run for 46 consecutive days through Saturday, April 15, 2017 (with the exception of Unit E – Kipuka Ainahou that will run for 31 days). The spring season will be for bearded turkeys only, in locations identified below. The season length, bag limits, and hunting areas are those established in Title 13, Chapter 122, “Rules Regulating Game Bird Hunting, Field Trials and Commercial Shooting Preserves.

Open Turkey Hunting Areas Special Conditions Season Dates Hunting Hours
Unit A – Mauna Kea Forest Reserve and GMA Mammal hunting will also be open above tree line for rifle, muzzleloader, handgun, and shotgun. March 1 – April 15, 2017        (46 consecutive days) One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset
Unit G – Kaohe GMA Also open daily to mammal hunting for archery.
Unit F – Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve N/A
Private Lands Hunters required to have valid hunting license, current turkey tags and landowner permission.
Unit E – Kipuka Ainahou Also open to mammal hunting on weekends and holidays only. Archery only.

* Hunting is not allowed in DHHL lands in this unit.

March 1 – March 31, 2017 (31 consecutive days)

Bag Limits and Tags

The daily bag limit will be three bearded turkeys per hunter with a season bag limit of three.  All hunters are required to have a current unused turkey tag in their possession while hunting.  Tags are currently $5/tag for residents and $20/tag for non-residents.  Turkey tags are nontransferable and must be fastened with snaps and secured tightly around the neck or tarsus of any bird taken immediately after the kill.  Tags may be obtained from any Hawaii Island Division of Forestry & Wildlife office and a number of commercial vendors.  Hunters must present current State of Hawaii Hunting License with a current Game Bird Stamp when obtaining tags.  Turkey tags are also required to hunt on private land.

Information may be obtained by contacting Division of Forestry & Wildlife offices at the following phone numbers:  Hilo: (808) 974-4221; Kamuela: (808) 887-6063 or the main office at (808) 587-0166.

New Breakout of Lava Mapped

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of January 12 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of February 16 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line marks the trace of the active lava tube (dashed where uncertain).

At Puʻu ʻŌʻō, surface flows are occurring within about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) of the 61g vent and on the coastal plain. These flows pose no threat to nearby communities at this time.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

This small-scale map shows Kīlauea’s active East Rift Zone lava flow field in relation to the southeastern part of the Island of Hawaiʻi. The area of the active flow field as of January 12 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of February 16 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Hawaii Civil Defense Lava Flow Update

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) reports the active lava flow from Puʻu ʻŌʻō in the East Rift Zone is entering the ocean at Kamokuna located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Additional surface flows are active near Puʻu ʻŌʻō and more recently moving beyond the National Park eastern boundary onto private property near the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision. Bright incandescence is visible from the active lava flow field, and the lava flow does not pose a threat to any community at this time.

This image is from a research camera positioned on Holei Pali, looking east towards Lava Flow 61G and Kalapana.

To maintain public safety and to extend the use of the emergency road or Highway 130, the County of Hawai‘i opened the emergency road to lava viewing since June 30, 2016. Vehicular traffic on the emergency road is limited to local residents and emergency vehicles, and is being monitored by security guards posted along the viewing area. The road is unpaved and surrounded on all sides by rough lava flows on private property. Public access is restricted to the graded roadway and viewers are asked to please respect private property and the rights of local residents.

The “firehose flow” at Kīlauea Volcano’s Kamokuna ocean entry was clearly visible from the public lava viewing area established by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The viewing area is 800 meters (about one-half mile) from the ocean entry, but affords excellent views of the lava flow. HVO Photo

Visitors need to be aware of the following reminders:

  • Viewing area hours are from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, with the last car allowed to park at 9:00 p.m.
  • It is about 8.5 miles round-trip from end of the pavement on Highway 130 to the ocean entry at Kamokuna and back. The flow can be seen starting from just beyond the parking lot all along the viewing area route.
  • Restroom facilities are limited and lack running water.
  • All members of your party should dress appropriately with boots or sturdy, covered shoes, long pants and a hat.
  • Be prepared for rain, wind, sun, heat and dust exposure.
  • Bring lots of water (1-2 liters per person), there is no potable water available.
  • Bring a flashlight for walking at night.

Our goal is to maintain public safety, protect the interests of Kalapana residents, and extend the use of the emergency road or Highway 130.  We ask for your patience and kokua (help).

Coast Guard Rescues 7 People in Two Separate Incidents in Less Then 12 Hours

Six people were rescued by the Coast Guard Thursday evening after their 34-foot sailing vessel grounded while entering the Keehi Channel off Honolulu.

To listen to or download mayday audio click here 

A Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point safely hoisted the people from sailing vessel Malia and took them back to the air station.

“We are very proud of our search and rescue assets and that we could assist these six people in distress safely and efficiently,” said Lt. j. g. Victoria Lacefield-Rodriguez, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Our crews are always ready to respond to emergent search and rescue.”

Watchstanders from the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received notification at 6:43 p.m. from the vessel’s crew hailing mayday on VHF channel 16.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu launched, but upon arriving on scene was only able to get within 30-yards of the vessel due to shallow water.

The RB-M crew remained on scene until the helicopter crew arrived and successfully hoisted the six people.

There have been no reports of injuries or pollution. The owner of the vessel will work with Sector Honolulu personnel to develop a salvage plan.

In a second incident in less then 12 hours, the Coast Guard rescued a mariner in distress near the Kalaupapa Lighthouse off Molokai early Friday morning, less than 12 hours after rescuing six boaters from a grounded sailing vessel off Oahu.

Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur | The captain from the 22-foot sailing vessel Harmony B stands with an MH-65 dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point, following their rescue off Molokai, Feb, 17, 2017. Coast Guard responded to a mayday call from the mariner that was made on VHF channel 16.(U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

A Coast Guard MH-65 dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point safely hoisted the 52-year-old man from his homemade 22-foot fiberglass vessel the Harmony B.

“We are very pleased to have brought seven people to safety overnight,” said Petty Officer 1st Class William Cusic, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “This is what our crews train for and their dedication to our search and rescue mission paid dividends.”

Watchstanders from the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a mayday call at 1:43 a.m. from the master of the Harmony B hailing on VHF channel 16.

The master believed his anchor was no longer holding and was concerned that the weather conditions would push his vessel onto the nearby rocks.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched the dolphin crew and crew of Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336).

At 3:08 a.m., the dolphin aircrew was on scene safely hoisting the man aboard and took him back to the air station. No injuries were reported.

On scene weather was reportedly 18 mph winds with 7-foot seas. The master will work with Sector Honolulu personnel to develop a salvage plan.

 

Six Foot Iguana Found on Oahu While Doing Yard Work

A six-foot-long iguana was turned in on Sunday by a resident in Waimanalo who found the lizard while doing yard work. The resident contained the animal and called the State’s toll-free Pest Hotline at about noon and inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) picked up the iguana later that afternoon.

When fully grown, iguanas may reach up to six feet in length from head to tip of tail. Its tail is quite powerful, acting as a dangerous weapon in fending off enemies. Iguanas are native to central Mexico through South America and are typically vegetarians, but are known to disturb bird nestlings and feed on eggs.

Although they are believed to be established in some areas on Oahu, it is illegal to import, possess or transport iguanas in Hawaii. Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in prison.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Thunderstorms Drenching Maui

At 511 PM HST, a strong thunderstorm was located near Kihei, or 8
miles southeast of Kahului, moving northeast at 15 mph.

Wind gusts up to 50 mph are possible with this storm.

Locations impacted include Kahului, Kihei, Pukalani, Haliimaile, Pauwela, Ulupalakua, Wailea, Huelo, Haiku-Pauwela, Paia, Makawao, Puunene, Kula, Keokea, Makena, Kaupo, Hana, Kipahulu, Maalaea and Nahiku.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with this storm.  Lightning can strike 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. Seek a safe shelter inside a building or vehicle.

INFORMATION:  Maui County Emergency Management Agency will continue to monitor the situation.  Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.  NOAA Weather broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025.  NOAA Weather internet services can be found at www.weather.gov/hawaii.

Coast Guard Responds to Increase in Illegal Lava Boat Charters on Big Island

In the last 24 hours, the Coast Guard has identified two tour boats operating illegally out of Pohoiki Boat Ramp and is ramping up enforcement in response to a perceived increase in illegal charters operating in the area to view lava streaming into the ocean from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.

The “firehose flow” at Kīlauea Volcano’s Kamokuna ocean entry was clearly visible from the public lava viewing area established by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The viewing area is 800 meters (about one-half mile) from the ocean entry, but affords excellent views of the lava flow.

“Safety is always our top priority,” said Capt. David McClellan, chief of prevention, Coast Guard 14th District. “For boat operators, it is important to maintain situational awareness and not unnecessarily put yourself, your passengers or your boat in danger. For visitors, it’s important they check that their hired boat operators are licensed ensuring they possess the experience and training required to get them to the viewing area and back safely.”

Commercial tour boat and charter operators must possess the appropriate merchant mariner credential to operate. Masters of commercial charters operating in state waters are also required by the State of Hawaii to have a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and to keep that permit on the vessel.

For vessels carrying six or fewer passengers for hire, the operator must possess a Coast Guard-issued operator of uninspected passenger vessel license and operate on near coastal waters not more than 100 miles offshore, as defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101 (42)(B).

For vessels carrying seven or more passengers for hire on vessels less than 100 gross tons (not including auxiliary sail), the operator must possess a Coast Guard-issued master of self-propelled vessel license to operate on near coastal waters. The vessel must also have a Coast Guard-issued certificate of inspection posted in a visible location.

According to the National Park Service, the spot where lava meets the ocean is referred to as the “bench.” It is one of the most dangerous areas of the park because it could potentially collapse, sending dangerous projectiles into the air. The steam emitted where lava meets the water contains hydrochloric acid and glass particles. Tour boat operators are urged to maintain a safe distance from both to ensure their safety as well as that of their passengers.

More on information regarding licensing for charter boat captains can be found at: https://www.uscg.mil/nmc/credentials/charter_boat_capt/default.asp.

Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook Closed to Protect Endangered Nēnē

The Pu‘u Pua‘i overlook is temporarily closed to protect breeding nēnē (endangered Hawaiian geese) in the area.

NPS Photo

The gate is secured at the entrance to the Pu‘u Pua‘i parking lot, near the intersection of Chain of Craters Road and Crater Rim Drive. Visitors are able to hike about 0.4 miles of Devastation Trail from the Devastation Trail parking lot to a trail sign marking the closure.

In 1952, only 30 nēnē remained statewide.  Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park began efforts to recover the species in the 1970s. The Nēnē Recovery Program continues today, and more than 250 birds thrive in the park from sea level to around 8,000 feet. More than 2,500 nēnē exist statewide.

Pu‘u Pua‘i is a massive reddish-brown cindercone that formed during an eruption at Kīlauea Iki crater in 1959. It is visible from many areas along Crater Rim and Kīlauea Iki trails.

Inaugural Maunakea Speakers Series Begins

The Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM), in collaboration with ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Department of Physics & Astronomy, is launching a new monthly lecture series giving community members unprecedented access to scholars and their knowledge-based work. The Maunakea Speakers Series brings scholars to Hilo to present on diverse subjects including fauna, biodiversity, climate change, botany, geophysics and other topics; all components of the immense resource diversity found on Maunakea.

“Our intent is to provide thought-provoking lectures and presentations while deepening our collective knowledge and understanding of the resources on Maunakea and strengthening educational opportunities —goals we all share,” said OMKM Director Stephanie Nagata.

Birds of Paradise Lost: Evolution, Extinction and Conservation of Hawai‘i’s Birds

The first program under the Maunakea Speaker Series kicks off with a one-hour presentation, Birds of Paradise Lost: Evolution, Extinction and Conservation of Hawaii’s Birds by Dr. Rob Fleischer, Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park. Dr. Fleischer will discuss Hawai‘i’s native birds and how he and his colleagues use DNA methods to study evolutionary relationships, population genetics, diet, and the impacts and mitigation of introduced disease.

Dr. Fleischer’s Smithsonian research involves application of DNA and genetic analyses to studies in conservation, evolution and animal behavior. His research often focuses on the use of DNA and genetics to document changes in genetic variation and to study the evolutionary interactions between hosts, vectors and infectious disease organisms (such as introduced avian malaria in native Hawaiian birds).

The Birds of Paradise Lost presentation will be held on Thursday, February 9 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm at the UH Hilo Science & Technology Building auditorium (Room 108) and is free and open to interested community members. On-campus parking is available without charge.

The Maunakea Speaker Series is a monthly scholar-focused presentation in partnership with the Office of Maunakea Management, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Department of Physics & Astronomy. For more information visit malamamaunakea.org or call 808-933-0734.

Sea Cliff at Kamokuna Ocean Entry Collapses – “Firehose” Flow Was No Longer Visible

HVO geologists hiked to the Kamokuna ocean entry today to assess the status of the sea cliff. When they arrived, the “firehose” flow was no longer visible. However, spatter (bits of molten lava) and black sand flying through the steam plume indicated that lava was still flowing into the ocean and interacting explosively with seawater.

Just below the left side of the steam cloud, a small shelf of the Kamokuna lava delta that survived the New Year’s Eve collapse can be seen.

Within minutes of HVO geologists reaching the ocean entry site, the sea cliff seaward of the hot crack (see Jan. 30 images) collapsed with no warning; fortunately, they were far enough away to not be in harm’s way.

The top photo was snapped just before the collapse occurred. The bottom image shows the remaining sea cliff after the collapse. Yellow arrows point to the same rocks in both photos for comparison.

The entire section of the sea cliff that was seaward of the hot crack collapsed, except for a small block of rock (left) at the eastern end of the crack; this piece of the sea cliff, estimated to be 30 m long and 5 m wide (98 x 16 ft), remains highly unstable and could collapse with no warning. During the collapse, rocks hitting the ocean generated a wave that propagated outward from the coast.

After the collapse, no lava was visible, but is apparently still flowing into the sea based on the continuing steam plume and explosions of spatter.

Yesterday, grinding noises could be heard coming from the crack, and the block of sea cliff on the makai (ocean) side of the crack could be seen to move slightly.

Department of Health Cites Island Recycling, Inc. for Water Pollution Violations at Kapolei and Dillingham Facilities

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Island Recycling, Inc. at both its Kapolei and Dillingham facilities located at 91-140 Kaomi Loop in Kapolei and 1803 Dillingham Blvd in Honolulu respectively.

The company has been cited for failing to comply with Hawaii’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for industrial storm water discharges. DOH has ordered Island Recycling to pay a penalty of $25,400, clean the affected drainage ditch on its property in Kapolei, and take corrective actions at both its Kapolei and Dillingham facilities to prevent the facilities’ from discharging polluted storm water to nearby storm drains and state waters. The company may contest the order and request a hearing within 20 days.

Island Recycling has NPDES permit coverage for both its Kapolei and Dillingham facilities under Hawaii’s General Permit authorizing discharges of industrial storm water. However, during inspections performed in June 2014 and subsequent file reviews, DOH found the facilities were not implementing controls to properly prevent polluted storm water discharges. The company had also placed discarded materials and equipment in a drainage ditch that is recognized as a state water body and protected by state and federal regulations. In addition to inadequate storm water controls at the facilities, Island Recycling also failed to submit Discharge Monitoring Reports required by the NPDES General Permit that are vital to determining the safety and quality of the facilities’ storm water discharges.

The Clean Water Act prohibits discharging pollutants through a point source into state waters unless it is allowed by an NPDES permit. The permit contains limits on what can be safely discharged, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not hurt water quality or people’s health. The permit translates general requirements of the Clean Water Act into specific provisions tailored to the operations of facilities discharging pollutants. For information on the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System go to www.epa.gov/npdes/npdes-permit-basics.

The DOH Clean Water Branch regulates, permits, and inspects a variety of industrial facilities ranging from construction sites to landfills and recycling facilities to ensure that these facilities do not pollute Hawaii’s waters especially during rainfall and storm conditions. The Clean Water Branch protects and promotes the health of Hawaii’s residents, visitors, and environment through regulation of high-risk water pollution sources, and education of industrial sectors and the general public. More information about the DOH Clean Water Branch and access to water quality data and files for NPDES permitted facilities is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/cwb/.

Hawaii State Land Board Approves Carbon Credits Initiative

Growing Trees will Provide Opportunity for Purchase of Credits

If you drive a car, fly in a plane, use air-conditioning to cool your home, or engage in other activity powered by fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gas, you may soon have new ways to offset your emissions locally, by supporting Hawaiian forest restoration.

On Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved Hawai‘i’s first ever carbon offset project in State forests. DLNR and its Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will now issue a request for proposals for private entities to create a carbon forestry project in the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve on Hawai‘i island.

Pu’u Mali Forest Restoration Area. All images courtesy: Hawaii DLNR

BLNR and DLNR Chair Suzanne Case explained, “Creating new ways to fund restoration of Pu’u Mali and other State forests is a win-win for the public, foresters, and our watersheds.”

DLNR is also in the process of creating a carbon offset pilot project on southern Maui, where carbon credits will be sold directly by the State to buyers.

The Kahikinui State Forest Reserve (SFR) and the adjacent Nākula Natural Area Reserve (NAR), high on the south slopes of Maui’s Haleakala, are steep, generally dry, and windswept. Over the course of many decades, uncontrolled grazing by introduced invasive hooved animals, like goats and cattle, virtually destroyed the native koa and ʻōhiʻa forest in this area. This has caused serious erosion, loss of native habitat for endangered plants and animals, increased wildfire threats, and reduced watershed function.

Kahikinui State Forest Reserve

DOFAW Administrator David Smith explained, “Ultimately this will give individuals, organizations, and companies the opportunity to purchase credits directly from the State to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming. Trees and forests store carbon, so the way we remove it from the atmosphere is by planting more trees.” The carbon offset pilot project is proposed for funding from the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, DOFAW’s Resource and Survey Forester said, “Both the Pu’u Mali and Maui carbon forestry projects will help implement Governor Ige’s Sustainable Hawaii Initiative and the Aloha+ Challenge, by mitigating climate change, restoring forest and native species, and enhancing watersheds.”

The Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, a voluntary watershed protection alliance of 11 public and private landowners encompassing 43,000 contiguous acres, has led forest restoration at Kahikinui and Nākula to date. Over the last three years DOFAW and its partners have constructed more than 7 miles of ungulate proof fencing, removed 700 invasive animals, and planted 45,500 native plant seedlings in the Kahikinui SFR and 71,000 trees in the Nākula NAR.

On a recent visit to Kahikinui SFR, Maui-based DOFAW forester Lance DeSilva had a gleam in his eye as he surveyed young koa trees, that six months ago were barely a foot tall and now have grown to 4 to 5 feet.  DeSilva said, “From the last time I came out here, you could barely see the seedlings that our crew had planted. Ample rain has helped. It’s very promising. It’s a feel-good moment to see this. It’s really nice.”

Volunteers and staff have primarily planted koa along with māmane, ʿaʿaliʿi, pilo, ʻōhiʻa, ʻōlapa and other native understory plants. It’s all in an effort, as DeSilva explained, “to return Kahikinui back to its native condition, which started with fencing, invasive animal removal, and planting native plants. The goal is to one day have this functioning as a fully intact and productive watershed.  Eventually we’d like to look at reintroducing some of the native birds here, but first the habitat for them has to recover.”

Smith pointed to the many benefits of both the Big Island and Maui restoration and carbon offset projects, saying, “We and our partners look forward to converting degraded pastureland or forests back to native forest, to store carbon, reduce erosion, increase water supply recharge, re-establish endangered species habitat, mitigate wildfire threats, and support many other natural and cultural benefits.”

Bills to Ban Coral-Killing Sunscreens Move Forward

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection today passed House Bill 600, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa), which would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone.

The bill was introduced in response to recent studies that have concluded that oxybenzone disrupts coral development and growth.

“Our reefs are an essential economic driver of our tourism industry, they sustain our fish populations for fishermen, and are home to many species found nowhere else in the world. Safe, effective, and affordable alternatives to oxybenzone are available already. How can we, in good conscience, continue to needlessly allow the use of this chemical that we know causes damage to coral?” said Rep. Lowen.

The committee also moved a bill forward that would allow continued sale of oxybenzone products, but impose new labelling requirements. HB 600 will next go to the House Floor and then to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Missing Fisherman Found Dead Off Maui

The Coast Guard and Maui Fire Department ended their search, Saturday, for a missing fisherman near the Pokowai Sea Arch, Maui.

Photo by Frank Kovalchek

After being located by a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Maui recovered the man unresponsive at 9:22 a.m. approximately one mile from Pokowai Sea Arch. He was then transported to shore where he was declared deceased by awaiting medical personnel.

On-scene Coast Guard assets conducted a total of 3 searches covering 41 square miles prior to locating the man.

Involved in the search were:

  • An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew
  • The crew of USCGC Ahi (WPB 87364)
  • Ground crews and a rescue boat with divers from Maui Fire Department

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received notification at 2 a.m., from Maui Fire, of a 49-year-old man who fell off the sea arch and was last seen floating on his back.

The Coast Guard issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast requesting the assistance of mariners in the area to keep a sharp look out and report any sightings to command center watch standers at ‪808-842-2600.

Hokulea Arrives at Galapagos Islands

Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea arrived yesterday at  Puerto Ayora, the capital city of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands. The crew will be joined by a contingent of teachers and students from Hawaii as well as representatives from The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International for an educational visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Site. During their stay, the crew and participating schools will engage in activities to further their understanding of the area’s fragile ecosystem and how its preservation aligns with the Worldwide Voyage’s Malama Honua mission.

Situated in the Pacific Ocean more than 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution.” Similar to Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands is an isolated volcanic archipelago known for its endemic species and rich biodiversity. The location became famous after naturalist Charles Darwin visited in 1835 to study the area’s rare animal species which led to his theory of evolution by natural selection.

This stop on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage will be an opportunity for the voyage mission crew to learn about the Galapagos Islands’ conservation management and environmental sustainability efforts while bringing attention to science, evolution and the importance of protecting the earth’s most fragile resources.

Educators and students from Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School, Kamehameha Schools, and James B. Castle High School will all be present throughout Hokulea’s stay in the Galapagos. Groups will engage in a series of land tours, dives, and a Hoike event, or final presentation, to showcase their scientific findings and share the potential impacts the learning from this visit could have on education in Hawaii.

The learning journey will include visits to the Charles Darwin Research Center and the Tomas de Berlanga School, which focuses on developing a sense of stewardship in its students for the society and environment in which they live.  The school was launched in 1994 by a group of Galapagos residents who believed that improved education was a prerequisite to a more sustainable Galapagos.  They sought to launch an educational model that could serve as a showcase of best practices and as a future training ground for educators from other schools on the islands.

After the Galapagos Islands, Hokulea will continue on her voyage to Rapa Nui and French Polynesia for further community outreach and opportunities to share the Malama Honua message. In June 2017, Hokulea will make her long-awaited return to the Hawaiian Islands with a historic homecoming ceremony at Magic Island

NASA to Observe Lava Flow Patterns on Big Island – Looking to Unlock Mysteries of Coral Reefs and Volcanoes

NASA is hosting a media day on Feb. 8 in O’ahu, Hawaii, to spotlight two field campaigns that seek to unlock some of the mysteries behind two of Hawaii’s treasured natural resources: coral reefs and volcanoes.

Starting Feb. 10, NASA will fly its Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN) on a Gulfstream III aircraft to observe lava flow patterns at Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island.

This month, scientists begin collecting data on coral reef health and volcanic emissions and eruptions with NASA’s Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) preparatory airborne mission onboard the high-altitude ER-2 aircraft. Starting Feb. 10, NASA will fly its Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN) on a Gulfstream III aircraft to observe lava flow patterns at Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The event will be held at Marine Corps Base Hawaii from 1 to 4 p.m. HST and will feature briefings by volcano and coral reef scientists and tours of the ER-2 aircraft. Mission personnel will discuss the HyspIRI science instruments and different data collection methods, including an autonomous kayak for coral reef research, and describe how NASA uses field research in developing future Earth-observing space missions.

ER-2 aircraft

This event is restricted to U.S. media. Reporters planning to attend must contact Kate Squires at 661-276-2020 or kate.k.squires@nasa.gov no later than noon PST on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

The data collected from the HyspIRI has the capacity to support a potential future satellite mission to study the world’s ecosystems and provide information on natural disasters. GLISTIN provides data critical to understanding and modeling ice sheets, how fast they are changing, and what are the driving processes controlling these changes. These field campaigns are examples of how NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science programs, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/earth