HomeOutdoorsNewsEndangered Seabird at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Caught on Camera for the First Time

Endangered Seabird at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Caught on Camera for the First Time

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

An endangered seabird, a ʻakēʻakē fledgling, otherwise known as a band-rumped storm petrel, was caught on camera at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for the first time.

On Tuesday, the national park posted a video of the first one documented in the region.

The National Park Service said the nocturnal seabird could be seen emerging from its high-elevation burrow on Mauna Loa. This occurred about a month before the volcano erupted. 

The burrow was located by Slater, one of the Hawaii detector dogs. Slater found the burrow under the guidance of trainer and handler Michelle Reynolds.

Once Slater discovered the nests, wildlife cameras were quickly installed to monitor the burrows.  

This is the first confirmed ʻakēʻakē nest identified in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, according to Charlotte Forbes Perry. Forbes Perry works as a biologist with the University of Hawaii Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.

“Biologists in the park have known of the presence of ʻakēʻakē on Mauna Loa since the 1990s. In 2019, ʻakēʻakē burrow calls were recorded during acoustic monitoring which indicated nesting. The lack of visual signs like guano at their nest sites make them extremely hard for humans to locate,” Forbes Perry said. 

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grants Forbes Perry and her team access to study seabirds in her park via a permit.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Contains Cat-Proof Fence for Seabirds

The nests at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area are the only documented ʻakēʻakē nests in all of Hawaii. 

The park service said the burrows were not threatened by the current eruption of Mauna Loa. They are also protected within the park’s 644-acre cat-proof fence. 

Threats in Hawaii include predation by non-native barn owls, mainly. However, cats and mongooses serve as threats, as well as confusion from artificial lights. 

The bird is also known as the band-rumped storm petrel because of the wide white band on its tail. They are small and are ash black.

They nest on isolated islands. However, they spend most of their time at sea.

The global population is estimated to be about 150,000 individuals. Around 240 pairs are known in Hawaii, according to the American Bird Conservancy. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains two active volcanoes within its borders: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

The park was originally established on August 1, 1916. It was called Hawaii National Park. It was split into Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakalā National Park.

Mauna Loa has been erupting for the past few weeks, and its spill is threatening a massive highway. The volcano’s volume is an estimated at 18,000 cubic miles. However, its peak is about 125 feet lower than its neighbor, Mauna Kea. 

Scientists believe that Mauna Loa has been erupting for at least 700,000 years. However, they believe it rose above sea level about 400,000 years ago.