Two of Kauai’s endangered seabird species are in peril, according to a study released Wednesday by the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project. The study shows between 1993 and 2013, populations of the ‘a’o (Newell’s Shearwater (Puffinus newelli)) declined by 94 percent and ua’u (Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis)) declined by 78 percent. “The results of this study demonstrate just how poorly these two iconic birds have fared on Kauai over that time period,” said Andre Raine, lead author of the paper. And the fate of these bird species indicates a more systemic problem, said kumu Sabra Kauka. “To me it’s an indicator of the health of Earth both on land and on sea,” she said. “Is the sea able to produce the food that these birds need to live? Is the land safe for them to raise their young?”
“The decline is significant because they (‘a’o and ua’u) have always been an indicator of the condition of our environment,” Kauka said. “Traditionally, they’ve directed the fishermen to schools of fish.”
The majority of the radar sites showed massive decreases in numbers of the birds over the years, adding up to a “rapid downward trajectory” Raine said, particularly in the south and east of the island. “Kauai holds 90 percent of the world’s population of ‘a‘o and a significant proportion of the world’s population of ua‘u, so it is vital that we protect these birds,” Raine said.
Source: The Garden Island, June 1, 2017