DLNR News Release-46th Seabird Conference Begins With Hawaiian Cultural Centering, Feb. 28, 2019Posted on Feb 28, 2019 in Latest News
300 Scientists, Researchers and Resource Managers from 14 Nations Attending
(Lihue, Kaua‘i) – A pu, pule, hula and chants celebrating native Hawaiian seabirds opened the 46th annual meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group (PSG) at the Aqua Kaua‘i Beach Resort, Wednesday night. This is only the second time this large group of seabird experts from across the Pacific have gathered for their annual meeting in Kaua’i. In addition to the decidedly Hawaiian flair of the opening evening, 147 science presentations over the course of three days focus on the plight of native seabirds from across the Pacific and the impacts of introduced predators, habitat loss and other human-caused factors.
Kūpuna Sabra Kauka, a well-known Kaua‘i cultural practitioner and educator, opened the conference with three of her students blowing conch shells (pu) in all four directions. She then offered several chants or pule to help center attendees to focus on care for Pacific seabirds, some of which are now on the edge of extinction. 40 participants brought water from their home countries or states for a wai ceremony, with small amounts of water poured one after another into a koa bowl. A local hālau offered dance and song, before Kauka recited a chant penned by another famous cultural practitioner, Dr. Sam Gon III. Words were illustrated with photographs of Hawaiian seabirds and paid homage to the birds that are critical components of the overall ecosystem and continue to face increasingly daunting challenges.
Dr. André Raine, project coordinator for the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, is the Local Chair for this year’s annual meeting of seabird experts. He said, “We all have the common mission of protecting and enhancing seabird populations here in Hawai‘i and across the Pacific. This week is our opportunity to network, share our research and learn lessons that will help all of us better manage and preserve seabird populations at this critical time in which some species are so close to disappearing forever.”
As well as presentations from countries across the Pacific, there are a large number of Hawai‘i-focused presentations that will run today, tomorrow and Saturday. They include talks on seabirds ingesting plastics and the impacts of feral cats and other introduced predators on seabird populations, as well as discussions on methods and new technologies to prevent powerline collisions (a particularly serious issue on Kaua’i) and predator control.
Raine added, “There is a lot of focus on all the threats our seabirds face, but also a lot of success stories, including presentations on the progress we’re making in Kaua‘i’s mountainous regions to keep predators out of seabird colonies and successful petrel and shearwater restoration projects throughout the Hawaiian islands and beyond. Considering how important seabirds are to Hawaii and Hawaiian culture, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that they continue to exist on our islands for future generations”
The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is one of 17 government or commercial sponsors of the annual meeting.
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(All video/images courtesy: DLNR)
HD video – 46th annual Pacific Seabird Group meeting opening:
Photographs – 46th annual Pacific Seabird Group meeting opening:
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Senior Communications Manager