Friday, July 31, 2009

New Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Poster

In order to promote understanding of rare, threatened and endangered plants in Hawaii, DOFAW outreach staff recently created a rare plant poster for the Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program.

The Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program’s mission is to protect Hawaii’s rarest native plants from extinction. PEP is committed to reverse the trend toward extinction by managing wild plants, collecting seeds and establishing new populations. PEP focuses on species that have fewer than 50 plants remaining, collaborating with conservation partners who have a shared interest in preserving Hawaii’s unique biodiversity.

If you'd like a copy of the poster, please leave a comment below. Supplies are limited.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This Week in Nature: The 5th week in July

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

Earth's only woody geraniums, native to Hawai'i, are blooming on the upper slopes of Haleakalā on Maui.

Photo: Forest & Kim Starr

 'Apapane, 'i'iwi, and other honeycreepers visit the flowers to feed and, in doing so, cross-pollinate them. The shape of the blossom encourages birds to sip nectar from below, bringing their heads into contact with the flower's reproductive organs.

Photos: DOFAW

As they move from plant to plant, the honeycreepers pick up the pollen from one flower and leave it at another.

Haleakalā offers diverse environments, and its geraniums have evolved in remarkably different ways. They range from trees 20 or 30 feet tall to shrubs no bigger than 18 inches. The smallest is called hinahina and, like the silversword, takes its name from the silvery color of its leaves.

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Native Species of the Week - Hawaiian Stilt; Ae'o

Hawaiian name: Āe'o
English name: Hawaiian Stilt
Scientific name: Himantopus mexicanus knudseni

A stilt with a chick.
Photo: DOFAW

The Hawaiian Stilt is an endangered and endemic bird that lives in Hawaii. In fact, it lives only in Hawaii. Species endemic to Hawai'i are found nowhere else on earth. This is their only home.
What a great reason to protect these special plants and animals!
The Hawaiian stilt is a subspecies of the Black-necked Stilt of the Americas. But the two birds look almost identical. Here is the Hawaiian Stilt:

Himantopus mexicanus knudseni
Photo: C. Tucker

And here is the Black-Necked Stilt:

Himantopus himantopus mexicanus
Photo: DOFAW 

The stilt is a waterbird that enjoys hanging around wetlands like marshes and ponds. Stilts have loooong pink legs.
In fact, they have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird, exceeded only by flamingos. They prefer water that is shallow, under 24 cm or 9 in. deep. It likes to keep its body out of the water and dip down and pick little critters out of the mud.

Hawaiian Stilt dipping into the mud for a snack.
Photo: C. Tucker

The stilt is black and white, and has a long thin beak, perfect for pinching the worms, fish, crustaceans and insects that it loves to eat. The stilt moves between two different habitats each day, one is for foraging and eating, the other is for breeding and nesting.

To find out more about the Āe'o, visit the bird's fact sheet on the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy webpage.

Monday, July 20, 2009

This Week in Nature: The 4th week in July

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

"Ka i'a a ka wai nui i lawe mai ai.
The fish borne along by the flood."

'O'opu nākea (Awaous guamensis), a freshwater goby, grows to maturity in mountain steams and pools, where it clings to boulders with a sucker in its belly and eats fallen blossoms of the 'ōhi'a lehua. About this time, it comes downstream to spawn, often riding the run-off of a heavy rain known as ua ho'opala 'ōhi'a, "the rain that ripens the mountain apples."

Traditionally, 'o'opu were trapped in nets as they washed past, or a stream was temporarily diverted into adjacent lowlands, where fish could be gathered easily or stocked for future consumption. Unfortunately, overfishing and human interference with streams have made 'o'opu scarce, and today state regulations prohibit catching them with traps or weirs.

These small fish have been a Hawaiian delicacy for centuries, and among freshwater varieties, o'opu nākea are considered outstanding in both taste and size (as large as twelve inches). Chubby cheeks and bulging eyes make o'opu nākea resemble lizards, and thus they were kapu to families having the mo'o, a legandary giant reptile as their 'aumākua.

For more info about o'opu nākea, visit the Bishop Museum's Waipi'o Valley Stream Restoration Study page. While you're there, check out the other creatures that call Hawaiian streams home.

*The above information was correct as of 1989. For more information about state regulations on fishing, including permitting and licenses, please visit DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources.

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

Monday, July 13, 2009

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in July

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

"Pala ka hala,
momona ka hā'uke'uke.

When the pandanus fruit ripens,

the hā'uke'uke sea urchin is fat."

Hala (pandanus) fruit

Hawaiians used the orange fruit of the hala tree (pandanus) as a signal to search for sea urchins that are fat with eggs at this time of year.

Hā'uke'uke is a type of sea urchin with blunt or very short spines. A common purple variety (see below) clings to rocks in surging inshore waters, while the one depicted above, hā'uke'uke 'ula'ula, is a reef-dweller.

Purple sea urchins at Kaena Point
Photo: C. Tucker

In another proverb, ripe hala fruit is given as a cue to look for uhu, the parrot fish, which feeds on sea urchins and may be fatter or more accessible now than at other times.  

Hala fruit are not eaten, but may be strung in lei or, when dry, used for brushes. Other parts of the plant also have traditional uses. Lau hala, the leaves, are the raw material used for mats, baskets, and other woven goods. Flowers from male trees were used to scent kapa, while aerial roots were sometimes taken as medicine.

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

The 7th Annual Ulupo Heiau Hoike Festival

On Saturday, July 11th 2009, Division of Forestry and Wildlife outreach staff participated in the 7th Annual Ulupo Heiau Hoike Festival.

In the morning, before the event began.

The heiau in the foreground; it is one of the largest on Oahu.

This heiau is on the way to Kailua, above Kawainui marsh, an area managed by DOFAW.

The arrival of the hula halau.

The ceremony and protocol for beginning the day and celebrating this heiau.

All around the grounds there were places to learn how to pound poi, make kapa cloth and paint it using traditional techniques, learn about native plants and their uses, and many more educational opportunities. 

They even had an imu, where they roast pig underground to make Kalua pork.

Working on the imu.

Festival participants could learn how to make a ti leaf lei, and also how to string a flower lei from an auntie named Ethel. She tried to teach me how to make a rose out of a ti leaf too, but after a few attempts, she just gave me one of the six that she made while I was struggling and told me (while laughing) to "go home and practice."

Crown flower and bouganvillia lei and ti leaf lei.

 These are the gourds that are dried and carved to make Ipu, an instrument used in hula. These range in size from a little over a foot tall to the size of a big pear. The brown ones are already hollow and hard, the white and green ones are fresher...

The keiki performed a hula (with a little help)

It was definitely a successful day with lots of visitors, delicious food, fun crafts, educational booths and lovely music and beautiful dance.

All photos: C. Tucker

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Volunteer Opportunities

This page will be updated as volunteer opportunity info becomes available. Stay tuned!

On Oahu:

Makiki Watershed Awareness Initiative needs volunteers to help clean up and care for Makiki stream.
When: Every last Saturday of the month from 9am to 2pm. (No November and December workdays due to holidays)
Join the Oahu Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program and Hawaii Nature Center in removing invasive plants, building trails and bridges, planting native plants and working as a team to improve Makiki Valley. Click here for more info.
Help keep Ka'ena beautiful!
Ka'ena State Park
Groups: Friends of Ka'ena
Activities: Volunteer activities such as trash cleanups, vegetation restoration, cultural site protection, interpretation, and education. 
Contact: Josh Heimowitz, (808) 637-4615,
Care for Kawai Nui marsh!
Location: Na Pohaku, Kawai Nui State Park Reserve
Groups: ‘Ahahui Malama I Ka Lokahi
Activities: Workdays for site maintenance, tours, educational groups, restoration of the cultural landscape.
Contact: Chuck Burrows, (808) 595-3922,

If you know about other volunteer opportunities, we'd love to hear about them. Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This week in Nature: The 2nd week in July

What's Happening in Nature during
the 2nd week in July: 

 Hīhīmanu, the sting ray, can be seen in Kane'ohe Bay during mid-summer.
Hīhīmanu means "hissing bird," and its large "wings" sometimes break the surface as it swims. Usually it lives on the bottom, using its wings to raise a cloud of sand and then lying still while the sand settles on its back. Hidden this way, it sleeps and feeds, consuming a variety of worms, crabs, mollusks, and small fish. The camouflage is so effective that prey approach quite close, and in some cases, all that a hīhīmanu has to do is open its mouth and swallow!

Hīhīmanu uses its "stinger" only in self-defense. When threatened or seized by a shark or other predator - or when accidentally stepped on - it whips its long tail, jabbing and slashing with the tail's barbed spines. In the process, venom is released from glands around the spines, with painful but rarely fatal results.

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