KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai residents may see radar trucks along some of the roads around the island as seabird radar monitoring work gets underway for two types of endangered seabirds.
The Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project involves radar monitoring for ‘A'o – Newell's Shearwaters – and Ua'u – Hawaiian Petrels. Two radar trucks, one white and one red, will be used at 18 sites along Kaumualii and Kuhio Highways along with some county roads. These sites were chosen because these are areas where the seabirds are known to move between sea and montane breeding grounds.
The radar surveys will be conducted at night – during the first two hours after dark and two hours before dawn -- because both species are nocturnal.
“Radar is an important tool for tracking seabirds moving at night and is used around the world for this purpose”, said Dr. Andre Raine, KESRP project coordinator. “Because these two species of seabirds only fly back to their colonies at night it extremely hard to see and count them. Radar allows us to ‘see' the birds flying overhead in the darkness as a series of dots passing across the radar screen. By assessing the speed of movement, the direction of travel, and the time that the event is recorded, we can then identify the birds to species.”
Radar has been used to study the movement of nocturnal seabirds on Kauai – and other islands—for many years. The first radar surveys were conducted on the island in 1993 and have continued at the same sites on a near annual basis.
“By surveying the same sites every year, we can see how our endangered seabirds are doing by looking at the change in the number of birds passing by the same sites each year,” Dr. Raine said. “Because Kauai holds 90 percent of the world's population of ‘A'o and a significant proportion of the world's population of Ua'u, understanding how the populations are changing at an island level is critical to their conservation.”