Wonderful work is done through partnerships with Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument!

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“Fifty-three Bonin petrel and twenty-five Tristam’s storm-petrel chicks arrived at their new home at the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge after a six day boat ride, traveling from Tern Island and Midway Atoll, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. These chicks will join a cohort of twenty-two Black-footed albatross chicks inside a predator-proof fence, in hopes of founding a new seabird colony.

“These species have never before been translocated to a new home by boat,” said Matt Brown, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent for Papahānaumokuākea. “Knowing we can move these rare seabirds long distances by sea will enable us to adapt to an ever-changing environment and help prevent the potential loss of a species.”

Approximately 95% of the Bonin petrel and 75% Tristram’s storm-petrel in the world nest on low-lying islands in Papahānaumokuākea and currently, a significant portion of both species’ population nests within six feet of the ocean’s edge.

“Sea level rise and surge from storms and tsunamis put these nests at risk of flooding and chicks drowning,” said Lindsay Young, Pacific Rim Conservation Executive Director. “By translocating small cohorts of Bonin petrel and Tristram’s Storm-petrel chicks to the high island of O’ahu we are not only saving the chicks on the perimeter of the low islands from drowning, but we are founding a new colony to create a more resilient population.”

At both Midway Atoll and Tern Island, the translocation team, made up of staff from Pacific Rim Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, surveyed nests to identify those most at risk. Then, healthy chicks were carefully assessed, then picked up and placed in a special pet carrier by a member of the animal care team. The chicks were carefully transported to a custom-made bird hospital on the vessel where they were cared for and fed each day, throughout the duration of the voyage.

After making port on Wednesday, April 18, the chicks were shuttled to the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge and placed in their new artificial burrow homes. Bonin petrels and Tristram’s Storm-petrels nest in underground burrows where the chicks reside until early May when they will emerge from their burrows and imprint on the nesting site. By moving the chicks before this critical imprinting stage, these chicks will imprint on the site within the predator proof fence at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. They should then return as adults to breed and nest at this safe site, free of invasive mammalian predators. Until they fledge, a team of biologists will care for the chicks and hand feed them a daily slurry of fish, squid and vitamins.

“James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is home to native and endangered species, some of the last freshwater wetlands in Hawaii, and now, the newest members of our seabird colony,” said Acting Refuge Manager Jeff Burgett. “This predator-proof fence and translocation project and partnership demonstrate how we can work together to make a difference for the future of wildlife.”

This innovative conservation effort is an on-going partnership involving Pacific Rim Conservation, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the American Bird Conservancy.

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