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Maui remembers beloved biologist, known for saving Native Hawaiian species

Maui’s conservation community is remembering a beloved biologist, Dr. Fern Duvall, who left a legacy of saving Native Hawaiian species.
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 6:27 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2022 at 7:14 PM HST
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MAKAWAO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui’s conservation community is remembering a beloved biologist, Dr. Fern Duvall, who left a legacy of saving Native Hawaiian species.

The 68-year-old died unexpectedly last Wednesday from heart problems.

Duvall retired about two months ago after nearly four decades of conservation work in Hawaii.

“It’s been around the world that I’ve heard from people,” said his wife Mary Santa Marie. “His roots are everywhere. It’s amazing to me.”

Duvall, a dedicated biologist, is best known for his passion for birds. He drew them, studied them, and cared for them even at an early age.

“He raised two Canadian geese and we used to walk them around our neighborhood like it was just like our two pets,” said his sister Abbie Magnell. “We taught them how to fly and every time my friends came over, I kinda had to explain what was happening in my household.”

Duvall came to Maui in 1984 to help protect Hawaii’s endangered birds. He helped repopulate the Hawaiian crow, the ʻalalā, which was on the brink of extinction.

“His work will live on beyond him,” said Duvall’s sister Cheryl. “When I think that he actually saved the Hawaiian Crow, that is just … I honestly believe that’s what he was born to do.”

Duvall was also a founding member of the Maui Invasive Species Committee. Last month, he won the 2022 Maui Nui MVP award.

“Fern is one of the most dedicated conservationists that I’ve ever met,” said longtime friend and colleague Teya Penniman. “He really did have a way of making everyone feel special … they came to him for his extraordinary knowledge of living things. He had just an encyclopedic memory.”

Those who knew Duvall best say his presence will be missed, but they find comfort knowing Hawaii is a better place because of his work.

“A mentor to a lot of people,” said Duvall’s sister Collette Hodges. “He made an impression on a lot of people’s lives.”

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