NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Anchialine Nightlife, Koa Redux, Milestones

posted in: April 2012 | 0

Anchialine Nightlife: The animals in Hawai`i’s anchialine ponds, to the extent they have been studied at all, have been studied mostly during daylight hours. But Troy Sakihara, a biologist with the Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources, recently surveyed 81 such pools at Manuka Natural Area Reserve, on the southwestern coast of the Big Island, during the night as well.

As he reports in the January issue of Pacific Science, Sakihara found “significant increases” in the abundance, distribution, and species richness of pool inhabitants during these nocturnal surveys. Not only did he find greater nighttime activity by six native anchialine shrimp, but he also documented two unidentified species as well as a caridean shrimp that had not been seen previously in Hawai`i.

“There is little doubt that the anchialine habitats at Manuka are extremely unique and valuable from a conservation perspective,” Sakihara observes. However, “several issues pose immediate and growing threats to the rarity and biological integrity of the anchialine habitats at Manuka,” he continues. The biggest threat comes from introduced poeciliids – mostly aquarium fish, such as guppies and swordtails. Also, “the entire coastline is frequently traversed by vehicles and campers,” he writes, with two such areas — `Awili Point and Keawaiki – “in special danger… Fecal coliform bacteria have also been recorded from a few habitats, thus indicating that some pools are directly affected by defecation.”

Koa Redux: Jeffrey Dunster, the CEO of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods, has registered objections to the cover article in the March issue of Environment Hawai`i. Most of them concern the numbers describing projected koa yields. The numbers used in the article with reference to koa growth projections (and numbers derived from them, including returns on investment and carbon offset volumes) were taken from a printed booklet HLH provided to potential investors and government agencies some two years ago.

As was stated in the article, these numbers have been updated. Current HLH projections are based on an assumed basal area for koa of 175 feet per acre, down from the 250 square feet per acre used in earlier projections. Tables describing three potential investment scenarios, using varying trends in the market for koa, may be found on the company’s website, Go to the drop-down menu for “Opportunity.” In the tab labeled “Projection Tables” are the company’s current projections. According to the website, “One could develop limitless tables just by varying this parameter [basal area] between the reasonable ranges of 150 to 475 square feet per acre.”

Dunster was invited to submit a letter to the editor. He had not done so by press time.

Milestones: With sadness we note the passing of two good friends of Environment Hawai`i: Kimo Campbell died in February. Don Swerdfeger passed on in March.

Through his Pohaku Fund, Kimo was unstinting in his support of our work. We like to think that, as a onetime journalist himself, he understood, more than many others, the nature of our enterprise and the unique obstacles we face.

Don, a retired Methodist minister, was a stalwart supporter of environmental and peace movements in Hawai`i. Until the last month of his 97 years, he also made near daily patrols of his Hilo neighborhood, where he would scrupulously pick up every scrap of litter that came within view.

Finally, we note the retirement of Orlando “Dan” Davidson as the executive director of the state Land Use Commission. Although he did not set policy, he helped the commission through some of its most trying cases – most notably, perhaps, that involving the `Aina Le`a development on the Big Island. We wish him well in his retirement.

Volume 22, Number 10 April 2012

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