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Monday, January 29, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 29, 2024

Results are in for the first of three volunteer humpback whale counts in 2024. Photo by Ed Lyman

MORE THAN 400 VOLUNTEERS ON THE SHORES OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS took part in the first 2024 Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Count on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Locations on this island were Punalu'u Black Sand Beach on the Kaʻū Coast; Ho'okena Beach Park, Honaunau, Keahole Point and Hualalai on the Kona Coast; Pu'ukohola Heiau National Park and Mile Marker 7, Kapa'a Beach Park and Old Coast Guard Road on the Kohala Coast; Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo and Hawaiian Paradise Park in Puna.
    Total count for Hawai'i Island was 324. Statewide it was 2,124. The remaining whale volunteer whale count days this year will be Saturdays, Feb. 24 and March 30. Register and learn more at https://oceancount.org/.
    The Hawaiian word for humpback whales is koholā. The whales come to Hawai'i to give birth, nurse their young and breed before heading north to summer waters.
    Last Saturday, volunteers also gathered data on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Molokaʻi. They also searched shores of Maui and Lana'i during the Great Whale Count by Pacific Whale Foundation. This is the sixth year that both counts are coordinated on the same days, ensuring data from all the main Hawaiian Islands are collected simultaneously.
National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA recently released this poster
of koholā, honoring Hawaiian Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary.
Art by Matt McIntosh of NOAA
    The time when most whales were observed at all sites was from 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
    On Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Molokaʻi and Hawai‘i Island, Ocean Count volunteers collected data from 32 sites. A total of 174 whales were observed from 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
    On Maui and Lānaʻi, Great Whale Count volunteers collected data from 12 sites during 15-minute intervals between 8:30 a.m. and 11:50 a.m. A total of 141 whales were observed  from 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Total number for the Great Whale Count on Maui was 821 and on Lānaʻi it was 53.
    "Data collected during the Sanctuary Ocean Count and Great Whale Count combined with other research efforts can help reveal trends in humpback whale occurrence within and amongst whale seasons," says the announcement from the organizers.
   Across the main Hawaiian Islands, weather conditions were primarily mostly sunny with winds varying from light to moderate throughout the day. Several sites did experience rain and gusty winds which was not ideal for observing whales. A variety of other species were also spotted during the count including honu (green sea turtles), ʻilioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seals), naiʻa (spinner dolphins), mālolo (Hawaiian flying fish) and multiple bird species such as aeʻo (Hawaiian stilts), ʻiwa (great frigatebird), mōlī (Laysan albatross), kōlea (Pacific golden plover), Nēnē (Hawaiian goose), and more.
    Ocean Count promotes public awareness about humpback whales, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale
Humpback whale and calf in Hawaiian waters. NOAA photo by J. Moore

National Marine Sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities. Site leaders tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey, which provides a snapshot of humpback whales’ activity from the shorelines of Kaua‘i, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi and Hawai‘i islands. Ocean Count is supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
    The Great Whale Count by Pacific Whale Foundation had site leaders count whales from shore as part of a long-term survey of humpback whales in Hawai’i, with 12 survey sites along the shoreline of Maui and a new site on the shoreline of Lānaʻi. This event provides a snapshot of trends in relative abundance of whales and is one of the world’s longest-running community science projects.
    Both counts take place three times during peak whale season annually on the last Saturday in January, February, and March.

    NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries recently released the latest sanctuary poster featuring the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The artwork by Matthew McIntosh features the iconic Humpback Whale (koholā) for which the sanctuary is named.
    Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1992 to protect humpback whales (koholā) and their habitat in Hawai’i. The sanctuary safeguards koholā breeding, calving and nursing grounds in waters around the main Hawaiian Islands.
    Encompassing 1,370 square miles (3,548 square kilometers) of federal and state waters, the sanctuary extends from the shoreline to the 600-foot/183-meter depth contour and is composed of five separate marine protected areas, accessible from six of the main Hawaiian Islands.

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Mauna Loa's eruption, as seen on Nov. 29, 2022 between Pāhala and Volcano. Photo by Tanya Ibarra

THE LAST VOLCANO AWARENESS MONTH PRESENTATION IN KAʻŪ this January happens Tuesday at After Dark in the Park with a USGS presentation by geologist Frank Trusdell and geophysicist Ingrid Johanson. They will discuss the unrest before the 12-day Mauna Loa eruption in 2022. They will compare the eruption in the crater and the Northeast Rift Zone to earlier Mauna Loa eruptions and report on its recent activity. The presentation is at 7 p.m. in  Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Park entrance fees may apply.

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  Kaʻū Future Farmers raising money to go to the state convention include Vladimir Fedoruk (Secretary), Ezekiel Kaawa-Kamimura (Treasurer), Jacelyn Jara (President), Lily Dacalio (Vice President), Alajshae Barrios (Reporter), and
 Triton Blanco (Sentinel). Photo by Kaweni Ibarra

FUTURE FARMERS AT KAʻŪ HIGH is raising money to attend Future Farmers of America statewide convention on Kaua‘i to be held Feb. 27 to March 1.
    Jacelyn Jara, President of Kaʻū Chapter of FFA, said, "This year 15 of our members qualified for States, which is the first time for our chapter in nearly 20 years. In order to travel to States, we are looking toraise $14,000 to cover our necessary expenses." Almost a third has been raised. Those who donated so far include Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation, Olson Trust, Punalu'u Bakeshop and 4K Ranch. A donation jar is located at Shave Ice Shack in Na'alehu.
    "FFA has been beneficial to students like us because it helps and provides for our community and gives us students more knowledge about agriculture life and how it works," said Jara. "We would like to use this National FFA Week to prove to our school how involved and generous our local community members, organizations, and alumni are. Any amount of donation is welcome."
    According to FAA mentor Kaweni Ibarra, modest accommodations on Kaua'i and ground transportation are very expensive and there are registration fees for the 15 students and four adult leaders. Food will be out of pocket for the students.
    The convention will be based at Kapa'a High School and Kaua'i High School in Lihu'e. It will also involve educational sessions at working farms around the island, and competitions among FFA members from around the state.
    To donate to Kaʻū FFF, email kaweni.ibarra@k12.hi.us or send donations to Kaʻū FFA, P.O. Box 100, Pāhala, HI 967677.

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KAʻŪ'S REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS Jill Tokuda has released results of her first quarter issues survey for 2024, with her summary of input and her responses. Tokuda said that "Top of mind for local
Rep. Jill Tokuda

families were gun violence, housing, and women's reproductive rights." In her own words, here are her responses to those issues: 
    Preventing Gun Violence: "Across the country we hear about more gun violence in our schools, stores, and workplaces, and even with some of the toughest gun laws in the country we're seeing an uptick in violent crimes in Hawaiʻi. Enough is enough! We don't need another tragedy for Congress to act on gun reform. I won't rest until we pass more laws to ensure every gun purchaser has a completed background check, the gun industry is held accountable, and assault weapons are banned."
    Increasing Housing: "Everyone deserves a place to call home and housing that is affordable is crucial for our local families and communities. I am working in Congress to secure more housing tax credits, expand rental housing and rural housing programs, and develop workforce housing solutions."
    Protecting Reproductive Rights: "Right-wing politicians are doing everything in their power to interfere with women's personal healthcare choices as they work towards a nationwide abortion ban. I will keep fighting to pass the Women's Healthcare Protection Act and every single piece of legislation that helps ensure women in every state can access safe abortion care. I will not rest until every person has the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies and futures."

NO LABELS HAWAI'I, A POLITICAL GROUP LAUNCHING A THIRD PARTY TICKET for the U.S. Presidency here and elsewhere is subject of a complaint to the Hawai'i Attorney General from End Citizens United.
    End Citizens United submitted a complaint to the Hawaii AG alleging No Labels fraudulently misuses its nonprofit status. The complaint was originally filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
    "In its attempt to run a third-party presidential ticket, No Labels is abusing its nonprofit status in Hawaii and we believe Attorney General Anne Lopez should investigate and hold them accountable," said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. "No Labels is a shadowy dark money political group that is grossly exploiting Hawaii laws which are designed to benefit legitimate social welfare organizations. If No Labels' corrupt charade continues unchecked, it will set a dangerous precedent for future elections."
    The IRS complaint, first reported by the Associated Press, alleges that No Labels cannot be considered a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization as its work primarily benefits the No Labels Party, and does not meet the minimum 50 percent threshold of promoting social welfare. It claims that instead, it appears that nearly the entirety of No Labels' spending is on political activity. End Citizens United announced that it is submitting copies of the IRS complaint to the 27 states where No Labels is registered to solicit charitable contributions.

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2,500 on the streets.