10/18/23-ISLAND SCHOOL STUDENTS WATCH IN AWE AS ‘A‘O HEAD TO THE OPEN OCEANPosted on Oct 18, 2023 in Forestry & Wildlife, Main, Media, News Releases, slider
|JOSH GREEN, M.D.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 18, 2023
ISLAND SCHOOL STUDENTS WATCH IN AWE AS ‘A‘O HEAD TO THE OPEN OCEAN
To view video please click on photo
(LYDGATE PARK, KAUA’I) A trio of endangered Newell’s Shearwaters, or ‘a‘o was blessed and released this morning from Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi by a group of 40 Island School students and the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP). The practice has become an annual rite of passage, both for students and for the seabirds, rehabilitated by KESRP.
The students gathered this morning to learn more about ‘a‘o. Jonny Shepherd of KESRP previously visited their classrooms to educate them on the remarkable lives of these birds. Once they fledge, they head to the open ocean for as long as several years before returning to the mountains of Kaua‘i to nest and raise their young.
This morning, Jacqueline Nelson of Save Our Shearwaters (SOS) gave the students an up-close look at one of the birds and explained that all three ‘a‘o were prepared for release, after ‘falling out,’ mostly after being attracted to the urban light sources and exhausted flying around them. Fall-out season begins on September 15 and over the past two weeks approximately 90 birds have been rescued and taken to SOS for rehabilitation or health checks.
The students peppered Dilek Sahin, coordinator of KESRP and other experts and agency representatives, with more questions about ‘a‘o before releasing the birds. After their classroom presentations they were asked to share their thoughts.
Kalama Kealoha said, “It’s important to protect the ‘a‘o because they are in danger of going extinct and they’re only found on the Hawaiian Islands so if they’re extinct they will be gone forever.”
Luna Templeman highlighted that we don’t need to have a benefit to protect a species: “We should protect the ‘a‘o to release the ‘a‘o to its family, to grow up with its kind, and to release it to its home.”
Lucian Mokeddem said, “We should protect the history and native birds are part of the Hawaiian history.”
After leading the keiki in a chant, kumu Sabra Kauka was the first to cradle one of the small seabirds in her hands and then moments later from a platform, perched on the edge of the shoreline, released it. After each of the three open ocean flights the students clapped and cheered.
Also on hand for the yearly event was a former Island School student now working in the conservation field protecting native seabirds on Kaua‘i. She was able to stay on Kaua‘i after her schooling and emphasized the continuing need for passionate, dedicated people to care for ‘a‘o and other rare Hawaiian plant and animal species.
Ninety percent of the global population of ‘a‘o is found on Kauaʻi, and the annual blessings and releases are one way to imprint on young minds, the importance of protecting and saving rare and native island species for today and tomorrow.
This time of year, everyone is asked to keep an eye out for fallen birds. If found, they should be carefully collected and placed in one of the aid stations located at Kaua‘i County fire stations and other locations around the island. They’re then picked up by the Save Our Shearwaters staff. Fallout season continues until mid-December.
Among the partners involved in saving seabirds is the KESRP associated with the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, in association with DLNR/DOFAW, and SOS, initiated by DOFAW, as a nonprofit, funded predominantly by the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative
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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)
HD video – Kaua‘i ‘ao blessing and release (Oct. 18, 2023):
Photographs – Kaua‘i ‘ao blessing and release (Oct. 18, 2023):
Hawaii Dept.of Land and Natural Resources