New kind of litter

Gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment are accumulating on Kaua‘i shorelines, as well as places around the world. Surfrider Foundation’s local Hawai‘i chapters have joined the nationwide organization in a campaign to bring awareness to the fact that discarded PPE is adding to the plastic pollution on the world’s shorelines.

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Internationally studying seals

Understanding fertility is paramount to understanding the real status of the endangered Hawaiian monk seals, researchers say. And new research out of Scotland could help inform ongoing projects in Hawaii.

Led by the Seal Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews, the newly released study was done on two populations of gray seals in the United Kingdom, one near North Rona and one at the Isle of May.

Basically, it helped fill in missing data on breeding patterns by tracking body-mass changes in captured pup-and-mother pairs.

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Kauai’s Koloa going strong

Strong wetland management on Kauai has led to a preserved population of pureblood Koloa maoli ducks, according to new research.

These little brown ducks are unique in that they only exist in Hawaii, but the ducks have been crossbreeding with introduced or feral mallard ducks, resulting in hybrids on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii Island.

Kim Uyehara, a biologist who works with the ducks at the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was worried the Koloa ducks on Kauai were starting to intermingle as well.

So she teamed up with Caitlin Wells, postdoctoral fellow and researcher at Colorado State University, to investigate. Recently, the duo published a study using two decades of research and detailing their findings — that the population is still pure.

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crumbling coastlines

Kauai’s multi-use path, Ke Ala Hele Makalae, is being threatened by coastal erosion, triggering community concern and some government action.

In the area in front of Pono Kai Resort in Kapaa, the ocean is creeping closer and closer, eating away the shoreline and creating sharp drop-offs just feet away from the path that is popular for seaside walks and bike rides.

Now, caution tape and orange cones block off that area next to the path, courtesy of the County of Kauai, which is working with the state on a sand-replenishment project in the area.

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Ha’ena State Park

Taro fields have grown in around a boardwalk that stretches from a new parking lot to Ke’e Beach at Ha’ena State Park on Kauai. Ancient caves still stand near the highway to get to the park and the views are still breathtaking.
But, the park has changed since 2018, when a massive flood wiped out a majority of the parking lot and caused devastation on the Kauai North Shore. Now, the state partners with a community group to manage the Ha’ena State Park and surrounding areas, and entry and parking fees are in place.

In 2017, Ha’ena State Park played host to the Hawaii House of Representatives finance committee, the first time members have returned since 2017. I tagged along for an interview and to see progress on the park. The following is the result:

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