LIHU‘E — The free Grab-and-Go Ocean Learning Kits coordinated by the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at the Kukui Grove Center was a sought-after commodity at several distribution points, including in front of the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery.
“We were sold out at the pop-up Nature Store at the Kong Lung Center who went through 20 kits,” said Jean Souza, the on-site Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery manager. “The Princeville Public Library had 40 kits that were gone by lunch. At the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery, we went through 125 kits — wow, that’s about a kit every minute! And, we still were able to bring some over to the Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i where the kits are passed out after we close.”
The Nature Store and the Princeville Public Library were two new sites for the learning kits that focused on Kaua‘i’s seabirds through the inclusion of inter-active sheets, coloring sheets, identification brochures and more.
“A lot of the people picking up kits at the Princeville Library said they heard about the kits through the local newspaper,” Souza said. “Seabird education is of special importance at this time of the year when young seabirds, including the Newell’s Shearwater, leave their nests in the mountains and fly out to sea for the first time.”
The fledging season starts Sept. 15 and runs through Dec. 15 when everyone becomes more aware of lights and its distraction to the birds making their way from the mountains where they nest, to the open ocean. Birds getting confused and often fall prey to animals, and automobiles.
“There is a lot that folks can do to help these rare seabirds, including controlling household lights at night that can confuse fledglings,” Souza said. “And, how to rescue a seabird in trouble.”
That was one of the pieces in the learning kit that was a result of partnerships among the seabird conservation programs on Kaua‘i, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kilauea Point Natural Wildlife Refuge, Friends of Kaua‘i Wildlife Refuges, Save Our Shearwaters, and the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project in the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery remains closed, and the Kilauea Point Natural Wildlife Refuge is still operating on a limited basis.
These limitations drew on the benefits of having volunteer help from Kupu Hawai‘i where Sam Haab, working at the Kilauea and Hanalei refuges, and Kathleen Viernes of the Friends of Kaua‘i Wildlife Refuges sparked the distribution efforts at the Kukui Shopping Center where a seabird learning station with some of the taxidermy mounts beckoned shoppers passing by.
Souza, who also serves as the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said the theme of the November Grab-and-Go Ocean Learning kit will focus on whales because November is when the early arrivals of humpback whales make their appearance in Hawaiian ocean waters.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.