The team works with partners and other managers to do everything they can to “keep a lookout” on all wildlife and species on Kure. In lieu of balancing the overall workload, some of these monitoring surveys are conducted alongside larger work objectives. These species include Spinner dolphins, honu, shorebirds, vagrant birds, and pest monitoring.
Hawaiʻi shorebird species, respectively, are important environmental indicators as they tend to migrate seasonally with the weather. Surveys are usually conducted on the beach strand, on the runway, around camp, and two thoroughfares on the interior of the island (road to the Monument and road to the runway). Shorebird surveys are conducted opportunistically to monitor 5 primary shorebird species that utilize Kure as an over-wintering ground.
VAGRANT BIRD MONITORING
Staying vigilant for rare species sightings are especially valuable as most birds have traveled a considerable distance to land on Kure shores. Monitoring the frequency, the quantity, the season a vagrant bird arrives, lingers, and departs can contribute to a better understanding of weather, seasons, ocean activities, migrations, and the bird itself.
In the 1800s, captainsʻ journals recorded the numerous turtles consumed on Kure by shipwrecked sailors. Today, honu are a rare sighting on Kure. The first documented nest was in 2009 and since then there have been no recorded hatchings. Ongoing monitoring focuses on understanding nesting populations.
Nesting populations rely on the environmental integrity of shorelines for safekeeping and the protection of habitat through low human disturbance. One of the ways to improve conditions for nesting populations is through removing the invasive plants, such as Tournefortia argentea, that destabilize beaches with its aggressive root structure.
SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS MONITORING
From 2000-2020, there have been several sightings of the endangered Short-tailed albatross. In 2010, there were two infertile eggs suspected to be from a female-female pair. With alarmingly low population numbers for this species, PMNM continues to work with international recovery teams to facilitate an increase in the total breeding populations that reside outside of its final vestiges on volcanic islands off the coasts of Japan.
For more information on Shore-tailed Albatross recovery effort, please visit [insert conservation website]
SPINNER DOLPHIN MONITORING
Monitoring happens during monthly lagoon surveys or as necessary with marine debris, or emergencies. The State is in constant collaboration with NOAA as the field camps conduct and support photo recaptures ID surveys, cetacean population research, marine debris removal as well as respond to any suspected disease or unusual mortality.
PREVIOUS RESEARCH: From 2001 to 2011, researchers collected long-term data on population structure, ecology, and socio-behavioral dynamics study on the population of spinner dolphins at Kure Atoll. The research was conducted as a collaborative effort between DLNR/DOFAW personnel and Prof. Leszek Karczmarski of the University of Hong Kong. The project ended in 2011.
The eradication of rats on Kure in the 90s was a positive turn for seabird nesting populations. As habitat restoration efforts respond to a variety of survival factors, pest monitoring is vital in maintaining the integrity of an ecosystem by mitigating problem species. There are two species of particular interest—Big-headed ants and avian ticks. Both are disruption nesting success in their own ways.