Makawao, Maui – Seabirds have helped traditional navigators find land and fish for centuries. Now young seabirds need us to give them back the dark night skies, so they may find their way out to sea. The Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, Maui branch of the DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife and The Friends of Haleakala is hosting a two-night program, “’Ua’u Nights”, April 26th and April 27th, open to everyone.
You can learn about `ua`u, or Hawaiian petrels, and see their amazing aerial acrobatics, listen to their unique calls, learn about their role in Polynesian navigation, and the simple ways everyone can help perpetuate this endangered species and cultural resource.
At the Maui Kamehameha School’s Charles Reed Bishop Learning Center on Friday, April 26th, at 7:00 p.m., former Hikianalia navigator Kala Baybayan-Tanaka of Hui O Waʻa Kaulua (a Hawaiian voyaging society) will share how seabirds help navigators. Modern light pollution confuses young seabirds. Lights on land can look like stars or moonlight on the water, so they circle over flood lights around condos, hotels and big store parking lots until they are exhausted and drop to the pavement where they fall prey to cats, dogs, and cars. For eons, both people and birds have used starlight to navigate. Now, over-lighting and wrong-lighting is ruining this centuries-old resource for all navigators, “When in the range of land birds help to clue us in to where land is. Out at sea our winged friends always reassure us that we are not alone,” said Baybayan-Tanaka. Light pollution affects modern astronomy as well. Jay Penniman of the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project will also speak about the bird’s biology and how we can all change our lighting to protect this endangered species.