About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Feb. 6, 2013

The topic of a program presented by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at Pahala Community Center this evening focuses on gases emitted by Kilauea volcano. Photo from USGS/HVO
A MONK SEAL that died last week after being airlifted for medical care from the Big Island to Honolulu most likely succumbed to injuries and complications from ingesting a fishing hook, according to wildlife biologists and veterinarians.
      According to a statement released by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, a necropsy conducted by NOAA Fisheries revealed that the young male seal, known by his ID tags as RK68, suffered fractured ribs earlier in life. However, ingestion of a fishing hook more recently is believed to be the cause of death.
      Results of the necropsy reveal that the seal may have been hooked for several weeks or months. Officials said that if they had received a detailed report of the hooking incident when it occurred, the chances of a life-saving response could have been much greater.
      “Early reporting of a monk seal hooking can possibly mean the difference between life and death for one of these critically endangered animals,” said DLNR chairperson William J. Aila, Jr. “We rely on the community to be active and mindful stewards of our oceans. Had someone come forward, even anonymously, to report this hooking when it occurred, we may have been able to save his life.”
      This was the first monk seal death of 2013 and the first from Hawai`i Island according to available data. Hawai`i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has promised increased support from the county. “We are sad to learn that Hawai`i Island has had its first monk seal death resulting from a hooking,” said Kenoi. “We will be encouraging everyone to report any injured or distressed seals to DLNR, and the county will be adding more informational materials in all our parks to help alert residents and visitors to this situation.”
Monk seals often haul out onto the Ka`u Coast and wildlife biologists ask the public to call when seals are entangled or mistakenly hooked.  Photo by Julia Neal
      The DLNR chief said that “many people today use the term ‘kuleana,’ but we all must remember that kuleana is not just about our rights, it is also about our responsibilities. Our community has a responsibility to help manage and care for Hawaiian monk seals.” Aila said that “hooking a monk seal is often preventable, but we know sometimes things happen beyond a fisherman’s control. However, reporting is almost always within our control, and when someone observes a hooking and doesn’t call it in, it means an unfortunate incident can go from bad to worse and become fatal for the seal. We have an opportunity at this time to find solutions that will work for both the seals and the fishermen.”
      NOAA officials noted that monk seal hookings appear to be increasing. There were nine reported hookings in 2011, none of which resulted in deaths. There were 15 hookings reported in 2012, resulting in three deaths. This incident marks the first seal death of 2013. Another seal was reported with a hook in its tongue on Monday afternoon on Kaua`i. DLNR and NOAA Fisheries considers these numbers concerning.
      Charles Littnan, lead scientist with NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program, said, “It is certainly discouraging to see the number of hookings continue to increase, but it is alarming when monk seals lives are needlessly put at greater risk because people fail to report hookings as they occur.
      The scientist also said, “We remain strongly committed to studying monk seal behavior so we can find means of mitigating these interactions, but we depend on community members to provide us information on interactions. The more we receive public reportings of hookings and other interactions, the quicker we will be able develop solutions for mitigating these situations.”
      Littnan told The Ka`u Calendar that the hook probably came from a shore fisherman who was casting a fishing line out to sea. The hook apparently became lodged in the seal’s trachea and perforated his esophagus. Over time, scar tissue covered over the hook, which kept breaking through the tissue, further injuring the seal, who was about a year and a half old. The injury led to further complications, including difficulty in breathing, said Littman.
      A Coast Guard helicopter airlifted the failing seal to Honolulu, where he died.
      The toll-free, 24/7 reporting hotline for all fishery interactions and other marine mammal incidents is 1-888-256-9840. DLNR and NOAA Fisheries urge all fishermen and other ocean users to write down this hotline and/or save it in their mobile phones for timely use whenever a seal is hooked or entangled.

Tomorrow's meeting about Volcano School of Arts of Sciences takes place
at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano Village.
USGS HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY brings a program to Pahala Community Center this evening at 6:30 p.m. Geochemists Tamar Elias and Jeff Sutton explain how vog forms and what has been learned about its effects on our island environment. Depending on interest from local communities, HVO hopes to bring more programs to the area. 

VOLCANO SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES holds a public meeting tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Cooper Center in Volcano Village. Architects will present renderings of Keakealani, and community fundraising efforts will be discussed.

FUNDRAISING FOR KA`U HOSPITAL’S emergency room continues when Red Hat Ladies of Ka`u and Ka Lae Quilters hold a bake and craft sale Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. at Punalu`u. Contributions are welcome. Call Barbara Beatty at 929-9072.

Janice Lee Baehr
PAHALA QUILTING HOSTS Hawaiian quilters, teachers and applique specialists Nancy Lee Chong and Janice Lee Baehr Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sisters show their quilts and stories behind each one and demonstrate various aspects of Hawaiian quilting. Baehr also presents her hand-dyed fabrics, with suggestions for creative ways to use them in quilts. 
      Chong and Baehr will be available all day to autograph copies of their book, Design Your Personal Hawaiian Quilt, as well as their DVDs and patterns.
      Call 238-0505 for more information.

ST. JUDE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH in Ocean View holds its Mardi Gras celebration Friday at 6:30 p.m. with food, music and dancing. Tickets are $12 for one or $20 for two, with proceeds going to renew the Philippines Mission. Call 939-7555 for more information and tickets.

TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE For Boys & Girls Clubs’ Youth of the Year banquet Friday at 5:30 p.m. at `Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. The event features inspirational speakers, awards, food and auction items. Individual tickets are $70 each. To purchase tickets in Ka`u, call Boys & Girls Club board member Julia Neal at 928-9811. 

IN SPORTS, Kamehameha’s high school boys basketball team travels to Ka`u for a game this evening at 6 p.m.