Kauaians rally to save shearwaters

Thanks to a variety of new efforts on Kaua‘i to darken the night skies, many young seabirds were able to migrate safely to sea in 2005, state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials said in a press release.

They wanted to extend a thank you to the representatives of many agencies, organizations, and businesses who helped decrease outdoor lighting at night between mid-September and mid-December.

Young Newell’s shearwaters (a‘o), Hawaiian petrels (ua‘u) and other seabirds are attracted to bright, unshielded lights during migration from land nests to the sea to feed, and subsequently fall to the ground, where they are highly vulnerable to injury and mortality.

To minimize this impact, in 2005 Kaua‘i residents voluntarily took action by turning off lights, modifying existing lights, installing motion detectors, training employees, rescuing downed birds, and providing educational materials to the members of the public.

These efforts contributed to darker skies, and attracted fewer birds to harmful situations.

Kaua‘i residents and visitors once again rescued many of these native and rare seabirds by turning them in to the Save Our Shearwaters program.

As a result of efforts to decrease harmful lights and to increase search-and-rescue efforts, approximately 300 seabirds were rescued, compared to over 400 in 2004.

The governmental officials said they hope the decrease is due to the island-wide efforts of Kaua‘i’s residents and owners and operators of businesses.

Assisting the effort were representatives of the County of Kaua‘i Fire Department, for hosting seabird aid stations; County of Kaua‘i Department of Parks and Recreation, for allowing the placement of awareness signs at all parks, work on lighting “experiments,” and for enabling other governmental leaders to increase awareness and search for downed birds at evening football games; state Department of Transportation Harbors Division at Nawiliwili Harbor, for placing an aid station at their facility and training staff; and the state DOT Airports Division at Lihu‘e Airport for increasing staff awareness; Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste for featuring this topic on his show “Kuleana,” and for facilitating interagency discussion of this issue; state Rep. Mina Morita, D-Hanalei-Kapa‘a, for her interest in protecting rare native seabirds and facilitating discussions with business leaders; Princeville Resort, Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, and Sheraton Kauai Resort at Po‘ipu for making efforts to turn off lights, hosting shearwater- aid stations and providing outreach to their staff and guests; the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa at Po‘ipu for hosting an aid station and increasing staff awareness; the Aloha Beach Resort-Kauai in Wailua for increasing staff and guest awareness, and beginning to assess and address problematic lights; resorts and condominiums in Kapa‘a who provided SOS information to guests and employees; Chevron for turning off lights, hosting an aid station, and planning to renovate lights with “seabird safe” lighting styles; KIUC (Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative) for improving and turning off outdoor lights at their power plant in Pt. Allen and overall assistance with the expanded Save Our Shearwaters program; Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental Company for modifying outdoor lights at their Lihu‘e Airport location; Pioneer Hi-Bred International for shielding growing lights, turning off non-essential lights, and planning staff awareness training for 2006; The Home Depot for turning off lights, modifying outdoor lights, and increasing staff awareness; Gaylord’s Restaurant at Kilohana for beginning to work towards decreasing light attraction at their facilities; the Bullshed Restaurant and Brennecke’s Beach Broiler for toning down floodlights; Kukui Grove Center, Wailua Shopping Village and Princeville at Hanalei Corporation for beginning to assess and improve outdoor lights, and increasing staff awareness; Island Ace Hardware in Princeville for their eagerness to provide “seabird-safe” lighting fixtures; Pahio Resorts for inquiring about seabird safe lights for existing and future facilities as well as remodeling projects; Norwegian Cruise Line for their willingness to begin addressing light attraction on cruise ships, and for committing to increase guest and staff awareness; Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, the Poipu Beach Resort Association, the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association, the Kauai Architects Association, and the Kauai (Lihu‘e) and Hanalei Rotary Clubs for hosting presentations and spreading the word to members and the public; Save Our Seas; Dickie Chang and Bruce Smalling of “Wala‘au” for putting together an episode on Save Our Shearwaters and related conservation efforts; Jim Lucas of Ho‘ike Kaua‘i Community Television, Inc. for providing footage and editing of a public-service announcement; and all the radio stations who played public-service announcements so regularly.

DOFAW and the USFWS leaders encourage representatives of all businesses, agencies, and residents to permanently replace harmful lights with “seabird safe” lighting fixtures.

Visit DOFAW’s Web site at http://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/ fbrp/sos.htm for information on solutions to seabird light attraction, or contact Andrea Erichsen, Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan coordinator with DOFAW, P.O. Box 459 Waimea, HI 96796, or 346-3489.

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