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ʻUaʻu populations on Lānaʻi are on the rebound, conservationists say

Rachel Sprague
Pūlama Lānaʻi
Hawaiian petrel habitat on Lānaʻi.

Ever wonder what it would sound like if you wandered into your kitchen looking for a cup of coffee and were instead met with a hundred hungry seabirds?

The louder, the better. That's the motto of the Pūlama Lānaʻi conservation team working in habitats of Hawaiian petrel seabirds, or ʻuaʻu.

Researchers use bird calls per minute as one measure of a petrel colony's population health and growth. The recent cacophony has been cause for celebration.

Lānaʻi is home to one-third of the world’s population of ʻuaʻu. But high rates of predation by feral cats and rats have put petrel colonies on Lānaʻi in peril.

Rachel Sprague is the Director of Conservation for Pūlama Lānaʻi. Her team has been working to fight predation with traps and fencing around the ʻuaʻu's roughly 80-acre habitat.

Sprague says that effort is paying off.

"We've been able to see, just in a couple years, a really major improvement in reproductive success, from where about 80% of the chicks were getting killed each year, to now about 80% of the chicks are successfully fledging and leaving the island," Sprague said.

The 'ua'u belongs to the expansive Procellariidae family, which encompasses over 50 species of petrels.

This segment also aired on The Conversation on Jan. 5, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter.
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