Posted on Sep 5, 2023 in Forestry & Wildlife, Main, Media, News Releases, slider


September 4, 2023


The film airs locally September 7th on PBS 

To view video please click on photo

(HONOLULU) – Despite being some of the rarest, slowest-moving creatures on Earth, our kāhuli (Hawaiian land snails) are popping up in living rooms across the country. Their sudden appearance is thanks to a new episode of the Pacific Heartbeat series produced by local nonprofit Pacific Islanders in Communication and broadcast nationally by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The hour-long episode, titled “Hawaiʻi’s Precious Resources,” combines three short documentary films that feature natural and cultural resources in Hawaiʻi. Most of that runtime is comprised of Kāhuli, a half-hour film by director Chris A. Johns that explores the efforts of the Snail Extinction Prevention Program at the DLNR and the Bishop Museum Malacology Program.

“I think people look to the mountains and they think our native snails are up there,” says DLNR biologist Dr. David Sischo in the film Kāhuli. “But the animals aren’t there. They’re being erased.”

The film follows snail experts from DLNR and Bishop Museum across the mountains of Hawaiʻi as they search, sometimes in vain, for remaining populations of native Hawaiian land snails. Of roughly 750 species to evolve here in Hawaiʻi, an estimated 60% have already gone extinct due to predation and changing climates. When the team does find snails, they are sometimes brought into a laboratory to provide a predator-free, climate-controlled environment in which they can reproduce. In 2020, more than 7,000 snails raised in captivity were released back into forests.

In addition to highlighting the technical work done to keep these species from extinction, the film explores the emotional toll of working with endangered species in Hawaiʻi. Team members describe their reluctance to give up the search for potentially extinct snails, as well as the feeling of cultural loss associated with the decline of a species that features heavily in oli, mele, and hula. As DLNR biologist Kūpaʻa Hee says in the film, “It’s heavy. It’s heavy for a Hawaiian.”

The hour-long episode “Hawaiʻi’s Precious Resources” also features two shorter films: Kumu Niu, highlighting the role of niu (coconut) as an indigenous food source, and After the Endling, a mixed-media story of the last Achatinella apexfulva snail. The films are directed by Alex Cantatorre and the National Association of State Foresters, and by Daniel A. Kelin II, respectively. The episode is available for streaming now on the PBS website, and is slated for more than 600 broadcasts nationwide. The episode was first broadcast locally on PBS Hawaiʻi on Saturday, and is slated to air again on September 7 at 10:00 P.M.

The release of the film is part of the Year of the Kāhuli celebrations kicked off by Governor Josh Green, M.D., in February 2023. Snail enthusiasts can find links to stream Kāhuli and the rest of the “Hawaiʻi Precious Resources” episode on our Year of the Kāhuli webpage, along with other educational opportunities and information about Hawaiʻi’s snails.

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD video – Hawai‘i State Snail Lab (Feb. 14, 2023): https://vimeo.com/798947091

HD video – Endangered snail enclosure, Poamoho Natural Area Reserve (Nov. 7, 2018): https://vimeo.com/179760822 

Photographs – Year of the Kāhuli proclamation (Feb. 23, 2023):


Photographs – Hawai‘i State Snail Lab (Feb. 14, 2023): https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/mqxoh1s1443uzupfvmffc/h?dl=0&rlkey=1nermv2193fs839a266hf4rnn 

Year of the Kāhuli webpage:


Media Contact:

AJ McWhorter
Communications Specialist
Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources
[email protected]