Volunteers needed to protect new North Shore seabird colony from predators

There are 7 new Laysan albatross nests along Oahu's North Shore.
There are 7 new Laysan albatross nests along Oahu's North Shore.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jan. 1, 2019 at 2:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wildlife advocates are trying a different approach to help federally-protected seabirds start a new colony on Oahu’s North Shore.

The North Shore Community Land Trust is focused on restoring the sand dune ecosystem to help the albatross and other native birds colonize the area.

There are seven Laysan albatross nests from Kahuku Point to the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge.

“They tend to come back to the place they were born if they’re females so it’s kind of entrenched in them at an early age of where they want to nest,” said Tim Tybuszewski, the group’s director of conservation.

“It’s hard for them to break that habit.”

Experts consider this colony to be significant since it’s at a higher elevation.

Most Laysan albatrosses nest on atolls and low islands in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Last October, Hurricane Walaka wiped out much of East Island.

“These birds are losing ground as far as places to nest. As the sea level rises the islands they inhabit for their nesting are starting to be submerged,” said Tybuszewski.

The birds nest once a year and only lay one egg. Mongoose and cat traps are in place, but there are other potential threats. Humans killed at least 15 Laysan albatrosses at Kaena Point in 2015.

“That was definitely a tragic blow and hopefully instances like that won’t happen again,” said Tybuszewski.

Instead of moving the eggs, the goal is to have the colony become established. Volunteers are needed to help monitor the nests and educate anyone nearby.

“We’re taking observations at different points of time during the day to remind people of what they should do around the nests and we’re also doing education and reporting to (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife (Service) on any kind of activity that might not be beneficial for the birds,” said Jon Gelman, president of Hawaii Marine Animal Response.

The eggs are expected to hatch in February in a spot that could help boost the future survival of the species

“We’re going to be watching these animals as they hatch and get their feathers and start learning to fly,” said Gelman. “Eventually, we hope they’ll fly off.”

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, click here.

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