The diminutive ʻElepaio (pronounced “el-a-pie-o”) had remarkable powers, according to native Hawaiians. Canoe-builders considered the bird an incarnation of their patron goddess Lea: If the bird pecked at a fallen koa tree, it was a sign that the tree was riddled with insects and unusable for boat-building. Farmers believed that this insectivorous bird was the incarnation of Lea’s sister goddess, Hina-pukuʻai, a patron of agriculture.
This bold and adaptable bird may indeed follow people when they enter its forest habitat, and quickly learns to exploit feeding opportunities created by human activity. Unfortunately, the Oʻahu ‘Elepaio—an Old World monarch flycatcher—is in serious decline on its native island, where it was once among the most common land birds. Declines have been so severe that the species is listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is also a U.S. WatchList species…
Fourth-graders from Kauai’s Island School will release fledging endangered Newell Shearwaters on Oct. 28.
The birds had been rehabilitated by the Save Our Shearwaters Program, which is a Department of Land and Natural Resources’s forestry and wildlife project, administered by the Pacific Co-operative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaii. The Save Our Shearwaters Program is housed at the Kauai Humane Society.
On Thursday, students from Wilcox Elementary School released five fledgling ‘A’o or Newell’s Shearwaters(Puffinus newelli) as part of the annual E Ho’opomaika’i ‘ia na Manu ‘A’o (A Cultural Release of the Native Newell’s Shearwater) event.
The ‘A’o is an endangered seabird found only on the Hawaiian Islands. Kauai is the last main refuge of the species with an estimated 90 percent of the world population found on the island…
Monachus schauinslandi is the only true seal to live in tropical waters all year round. It is usually found around uninhabited islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago. To cope with this, it have some adaptations to living in a warm climate. These include being active mainly at night, and spending the day hauled out on beaches. It feeds on a variety of different prey items, such as fish, eels, and octopus.
Numbers of M. schauinslandi have been declining for a long time, and it was hunted intensively during the 1800s. Pollution causes the seals to become entangled in fishing nets, and a lack of food are believed to be the main threats to this species.
M. schauinslandi has been protected under the United States Endangered Species List since 1976. It is also monitored by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which surveys breeding colonies to find out the size of the population. In 2000, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve was created to try to protect this species further.
The Hawaiian monk seal, known as “Ilioholoikauaua” or “dog that runs in rough water”, is found primarily on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They’re one of the most endangered marine mammals on the earth today, with fewer than 1,300 left. Their populations are declining at a rate of 4% a year. Living on the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, they spend most of their time in coral reefs foraging for lobster, fish and octopus.
Today, these precious creatures are dying of starvation and many are sick, injured and orphaned. They’re threatened by fishing gear, disease and shark predation. But global warming is the biggest harm to Hawaiian monk seals; sea levels are rising and erosion on Hawaii’s Northwest Islands is making their habitat vulnerable.
In the next five years, it’s estimated their population will plummet to less than 1,000. Stand with organizations like The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance in urging the U.S. government to protect the Hawaiian monk seal from extinction…
Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge has announced the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project on Kaua’i. The refuge proposes to create a seven-acre protected area for native plants and animals, such as the endangered Hawaiian Goose aka Nene, and to enhance existing seabird colonies by using the latest technology in predator-proof fencing…
Eighteen species of odontocetes—the toothed whales and dolphins, which include sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins—call the Hawaiian Islands home. But until now, little was known about where most of these 18 species dwell in these waters, what depths they prefer, and their population numbers.
A team of scientists has helped fill in the blanks via a unique, 13-year survey made in small boats, ranging in size from 5.5 to 18 meters. Over the years, they covered 84,758 kilometers of survey lines, spotted 2018 odotocetes, and photographed as many of them as possible to ensure that each species was correctly identified. The slideshow (linked) shows some of the rarer species. The team reports its findings online today in Aquatic Mammals…
ABC Bird of the Week: Akohekohe aka Crested Honeycreeper
Known in English as the Crested Honeycreeper, the Ākohekohe is a brightly colored and boisterous bird whose raspy, guttural calls make it easy to locate. It is highly aggressive and territorial.
Its habitat is estimated to be only five percent of its original range; the species was formerly found elsewhere on Maui and on Molokaʻi, where it is now considered extinct. The Ākohekohe feeds mostly on nectar of native flowering trees, including the ʻohiʻa and koa, but it will also consume insects.
Threats to this unique bird include deforestation and the introduction of exotic species such as feral ungulates, which destroy native forests, as well as introduced Barn Owls, cats, rats, and mongoose. As elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands, introduced mosquito-borne disease has virtually eliminated this native species from elevations below 5,000 feet…
Lucky visitors to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii may catch a glimpse of the endangered nene, the state bird also known as the Hawaiian goose.
* Beware though, when I encountered some on Kauai, a vicious gang of them attacked a boy trying to photo graph them. I had to escape onto a picnic table. The boy ran screaming back to his parent’s car.
(1) The last documented sighting of China’s baiji dolphin, or Yangtze River dolphin, was in 2002, and while the species is listed as critically endangered, scientists say it may already be extinct. In 2006, scientists from the Baiji Foundation traveled up the Yangtze River for more than 2,000 miles equipped with optical instruments and underwater microphones, but were unable to detect any surviving dolphins. The foundation published a report on the expedition and declared the animal functionally extinct, meaning too few potential breeding pairs remained to ensure the species’ survival.
(2) The golden toad, which is sometimes referred to as the Monteverde toad or the orange toad, was a species that lived only in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in Costa Rica. It was once a common species, but no specimen has been seen since 1989. The toad’s breeding sites were well-known and closely watched — in 1988, only eight males and two females could be found, and in 1989, only a single male could be located. Extensive searches for the golden toad since then have failed to locate another specimen, and the species was declared extinct in August 2007. The amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, airborne pollution and global warming probably contributed to the species’ demise.
(3) Hawaiian Crow. This native Hawaiian bird was declared “extinct in the wild” in 2002 when the last two known wild individuals disappeared. Some birds remain in captivity, and between 1993 and 1999, more than 40 birds were hatched in a captive breeding program. The birds were released into a lightly managed habitat and closely monitored, but releases were abandoned in 1999 because of increasing mortality. A reintroduction plan is being developed, but about 75 Hawaiian crows would be needed for the plan to work. The reasons for the bird’s extinction is not fully understood, but researchers speculate that an introduced disease, such as avian malaria, might have played a significant role in the species’ decline.
(4) The Pyrenean ibex is one of two extinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex. The species was once numerous and roamed across France and Spain, but by the early 1900s its numbers had fallen to fewer than 100. The last Pyrenean ibex, a female nicknamed Celia, was found dead in northern Spain on Jan. 6, 2000, killed by a falling tree. Scientists took skin cells from the animal’s ear and preserved them in liquid nitrogen, and in 2009 an ibex was cloned, making it the first species to become “unextinct.” However, the clone died just seven minutes later due to lung defects.
(5) The rarest of the black rhino subspecies, the West African black rhinoceros is currently recognized as “critically endangered,” but researchers fear it may be extinct. The species was once widespread in central Africa, but the population has been in decline due to poaching. By 1980, the population was in the hundreds, and by 2000 only an estimated 10 rhinos remained. A survey of the animal’s last remaining habitat in northern Cameroon failed to find any of the rhinos, but search efforts continue. No West African black rhinos are known to be held in captivity.
(6) Although 71 Spix’s macaws exist in captivity, the last known bird in the wild disappeared in 2000 and no others are known to remain. The species is currently listed as “critically endangered” instead of “extinct in the wild” because not all areas of potential habitat have been thoroughly surveyed. The bird is native to northern Brazil and in 1987 the three known remaining birds were captured for trade. However, a single male bird was discovered in 1990 and paired with a female bird in captivity, but seven weeks after the female’s release, she collided with a power line and died.
…Also known locally as the blind spider, the Kaua’i cave wolf spider is a species of wolf spider endemic to several caves in the Kōloa–Poʻipū region of the Hawaiian Island of Kaua’i. Like other troglobites this spider has completely lost its eyes as an adaptation to living in darkness. A.anopsusually inhabits lava tubes where they feed primarily on S.koloana, a cave amphipod.
Unlike other wolf spiders this species only produces 15-30 eggs per clutch which are held in the mothers mouth until they hatch. Currently the Kaua’i cave wolf spider is listed as endangered as it has a very small range, it is threatened most by habitat destruction.