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FIND the FISH !

October 23, 2014
hidden fish

Start your timer….. Can you find the fish !

Talk about good camouflage. NPS divers took this scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis oxycephala) photo on recent marine fish and benthic monitoring surveys in the waters of War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam.

Do you think that you would have seen it?

“End of the Road” will close during emergency route construction

October 21, 2014
Road closed

The park’s iconic “Road Closed” sign at the end of Chain of Craters Road. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi

Work begins Friday, October 24 on an emergency access route between Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Kalapana along the historic Chain of Craters Road-Kalapana alignment, from the park side.

The half-mile section of paved road that pedestrians use to access the lava that covered it in 2003 will be closed as of Friday. The popular “Road Closed” sign enrobed in lava will be removed to become part of park history. Other closures include the historic flows and coastal area alongside the construction.

Hōlei Sea Arch, the turnaround, bathrooms, and concession stand near the turnaround will remain open.

Motorists can expect traffic delays early Thursday and Friday mornings as large bulldozers and heavy equipment are transported from the summit of Kīlauea down the 19-mile stretch of Chain of Craters Road to the turnaround.

they're coming!

A bulldozer approaches the park boundary from the Kalapana side last week. NPS Photo/David Boyle

“We intend to reopen the closed area as soon as it is safe to do so and the bulldozers move closer to Kalapana,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “But now is the time to take those last photos of the iconic ‘Road Closed’ sign before it is removed on Friday,” she said.

Last week, bulldozers from the Kalapana side graded the 2.2-mile portion of Highway 130 covered in lava to where it meets the park boundary and becomes Chain of Craters Road. This week, crews start to grade the 5.4 miles through the park to the Kalapana boundary. The work is being done by the County of Hawai‘i, and overseen by the National Park Service and Federal Highways Administration.

Opened in 1965, Chain of Craters Road has been covered and blocked by lava for 37 years of its 49-year existence.

The emergency route is being built to assist residents of lower Puna, whose access to the rest of the island would be cut off if lava from Kīlauea Volcano’s June 27 flow reaches the ocean.

Aunty Leiffie Hao performs the blessing. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Aunty Leiffie Hao performs the blessing. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

blessing

Park staff, the road crew, and local residents gathered for a blessing on 10/14/14 at the end of Chain of Craters Road. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Kamapuaa?

An unexpected visitor showed up at the emergency route blessing. A sign? NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Haleakalā Mauka to Makai (Veg. Maps)

October 20, 2014
beautiful rare flower with people looking at it

The field crew takes in the exquisite beauty of Trematolobelia macrostachys.

Field work for the Accuracy Assessment stage of Haleakalā National Park’s vegetation mapping project commenced in January 2014. The purpose of Accuracy Assessment is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the draft vegetation map (see below). This is done by on-the-ground assessment of the vegetation and referencing an established vegetation classification. The field data is then compared to the draft map to determine if the satellite imagery of the park’s vegetation has been properly assigned into vegetation classification types. This process involves field crews navigating to randomly selected points throughout Haleakalā NP and assessing the site’s vegetation within a 40 meter radius circle or designated polygon, and assigning a vegetation type that has been previously described at the park. The project included over 600 target points with over 50 possible vegetation types. These vegetation types occur at designated elevational and climatic zones and are classified by the dominant plant species present. At Haleakalā NP, these types range from the semi-natural lowland dry forest, dominated by the non-native kiawe tree (Prosopis pallida), to the montane wet forest dominated by the native ōhia (Metrosideros polymorpha) and ōlapa trees (Cheirodendron trigynum). This project provided the opportunity for field crews to explore the amazingly diverse and unique landscapes of Haleakalā from mauka to makai, a Hawaiian phrase simply translated as ‘from the mountain to the ocean’.

man in wet forest giving shaka

Crew members had to be ready to endure many physical challenges, but were often blessed with the spectacular scenery of Maui and the rare beauty of its flora and fauna.

It is no small feat to map the vegetation of the 34,000+ acres that comprises Haleakalā NP. The process started over three years ago with the initial field classification plots and observations, and will be completed this spring when the final map and report are published. Once complete this comprehensive vegetation map will serve as a dynamic tool for park managers and research scientists. Accuracy Assessment is the final stage of the field work for the project and took no less than 15 Park staff, contractors, and volunteers to accomplish over a seven month period. Haleakalā has some of the most diverse and unique environments in the world. Habitats include the mosaic Subalpine Shrubland, the sparse cindery Crater, the Greensword Bogs of the Northeast Rift, the ephemeral grasslands of Nuʻu, and the Wet Forests of Kīpahulu Valley and ʻOʻheo Gulch.

Six hundred and one points were observed with many requiring camping in remote backcountry areas of the park. Reaching points often involved traversing through dense vegetation, across varied terrain, and in inclement weather.

map of veg at haleManawainui is an area on the south side of Haleakalā positioned between Kaupō Gap on the west and Kīpahulu Valley on the east. It sits at 5,000 feet elevation above a spectacular valley that often displays numerous ribbons of waterfalls streaming down its cliffs, inspiring the name Manawainui which translates as ‘powerful spirit water’. At the end of June, NPS Inventory and Monitoring crewmembers Meagan Selvig (University of Hawaii cooperator), Joey Latsha (volunteer), and I had the opportunity to stay at ʻŌhiʻa Camp, a backcountry shelter in Manawainui, to assess the vegetation types and explore this unique area. Misty clouds gusted by us as we navigated to target points through mossy gulches, narrow ridges, and dense thickets of the vining fern uluhe (Dicranopteris linearis). We would call out to each other as we passed by a rarely seen plant or caught a glimpse of a native bird fluttering by. In one gulch we were delighted to see a population of over 20 Lobelia gloria-montis, a rare plant that is truly the glory of the mountain. Later as we proceeded to cross another gulch and head up a steep slope of uluhe, we happened upon a fully blooming Trematolobelia macrostachys with its branching inflorescence of magenta flowers. A rare and wonderful sight we were fortunate to behold as one of the great highlights of our field season at Haleakalā National Park.

–Elizabeth Urbanski, NPS Biological technician

–Meagan Selvig, UH-Hilo Vegetation mapping coordinator

Tropical Storm Ana churns its way towards Hawaiian Islands

October 16, 2014

Tropical Storm Ana is moving closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

It’s centered at 11 a.m. HST / 5 p.m. EDT, about 465 miles southeast of Hilo and 665 miles southeast of Honolulu, moving toward the west. A turn toward the west-northwest is expected today, followed by a turn toward the northwest on Friday. On the forecast track, the center of Ana will pass near the Big Island Friday night and Saturday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph, with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next 36 hours, and Ana is forecast to become a hurricane on Friday.

A Tropical Storm Watch continues for Hawaii County, including the city of Hilo. Tropical storm conditions are possible there within 36 hours. Interests elsewhere in the main Hawaiian Islands should monitor the progress of Ana, as watches may be required later today or tonight for additional islands.

Tropical storm conditions are possible on the Big Island of Hawaii starting late Friday.

Large swells produced by Ana are expected to build over the eastern end of the main Hawaiian island chain tonight and Friday morning. These large swells will continue to spread up the island chain through the weekend. Surf produced by these swells could potentially be damaging along exposed shorelines beginning late Friday and Saturday, and persisting through the weekend in some areas.

Heavy rainfall associated with Ana may reach the Big Island of Hawaii Friday afternoon. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

Get the latest information, including graphics, at NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center website at: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/tcpages/?storm=ANA

1016-11am-NWS-5day-750x600

Big Island on Alert for Hurricane Ana

October 15, 2014

The Hawaiian Islands remain on alert for a potential Hurricane this weekend. Surf is expected to begin impacting Big Island shores Thursday night. By Friday evening, the island will start to experience strong winds, heavy rain fall and high surf.

The storm is currently located about 640 miles southeast of Hilo and moving toward the west around 9 mph. The storm as of 2 p.m. was packing 70 mph winds. Tropical storm force winds currently extend outward up to 60 miles.

- See more at: http://westhawaiitoday.com/hurricane-season-2014/ana-likely-hit-big-island-hurricane-friday#sthash.i6vacHHZ.dpuf

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Will Close Friday

October 15, 2014

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will be closed Friday, October 17 in anticipation of Tropical Storm Ana.

Satellite image of T.S. Ana at 11 a.m. Wednesday | Courtesy NOAA

According to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu, Tropical Storm Ana was located about 625 miles southeast of Hilo as of 2 p.m. Wednesday. At that time, the storm had maximum sustained winds at 70 mph, was moving west at nine miles per hour. It is expected to become a hurricane later today and will bring heavy rain, high wind speeds, and dangerous surf conditions.

No backcountry permits will be issued after 6 p.m. Thursday. The park’s Kahuku Unit will close the entire weekend, and International Archeology Day, previously scheduled for Saturday, is canceled and will be rescheduled at a later date.

If it is safe to do so, the park and its visitor centers will reopen at noon on Saturday, October 18.

“Our first priority is to keep our visitors, staff, and volunteers safe,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We will reassess Saturday, and will reopen by noon as long as it is safe,” she said.

Volcano House and Kīlauea Military Camp will remain open to registered guests.

For updates on Tropical Storm Ana, go to http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/cphc/.

For Civil Defense updates for the County of Hawai‘i, go to http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/.

Satellite image of T.S. Ana at 11 a.m. Wednesday | Courtesy NOAA

Satellite image of T.S. Ana at 11 a.m. Wednesday | Courtesy NOAA

Mountain Shrimp

October 15, 2014

A.K.A. :  ‘Ōpae kala’ole, spineless shrimp, mountain ‘ōpae, or Atyoida bisulcata

opae kalaole

Mountain Shrimp

Description:  These endemic Hawaiian freshwater shrimp can grow to a length of about 2 inches. They do not have claws like the invasive Tahitian prawn (Macrobrachium lar) but rather have pincers with bristle-like hairs, which can be extended to form a fan used to catch and filter food particles from the water column.

Habitat & diet: ‘Ōpae kalaole are superb climbers and can be found in the highest stream reaches in Hawaii. They prefer to be in and around rocks in the fastest flowing part of the stream. Here is the really cool part. They have two distinct feeding patterns. The first is used in strong currents. They position themselves in the direction of the current, then they spread out the bristle-like hairs on their front legs to form tiny baskets. These baskets allow them to catch particles coming toward them with the current. They then put the food particles directly into their mouths. The second feeding method is used in slow moving waters. This behavior is common among other crustaceans. It involves simply using their pincers to extract food items from the stream floor.

Reproduction: Breeding occurs all year round in Hawaiian streams. More often than not, when you come across a female of the species, she will be carrying eggs. She carries about 3,000 eggs attached to her swimmerets on the underside of her tail. The eggs hatch after about 2 months. As with other native Hawaiian stream animals ōpae kalaole are amphidromous. The newly hatched larvae wash down the stream and into the ocean where they develop for several months before returning back to a stream where they will spend the rest of their lives.

Tidbit: These ōpae are known as some of the best climbers in the whole Hawaiian stream community. They have been found upstream of 100 foot waterfalls. These resourceful little critters have also been found in storm drains, agricultural ditches, and taro fields. mountain shrimp up close

Threats: Habitat loss and degradation is one of the biggest threats to ōpae kalaole and other stream animals. An increasing human population on the Hawaiian islands is leading to changes in the way streams naturally flow. Streams have been diverted, channelized, and dammed to accommodate city infrastructure and agriculture. This results in reduced water flow, higher temperatures, and an abundance of harmful introduced species.

‘Ōpae kala‘ole in Pacific island national parks: The Inventory & Monitoring Program monitors stream animal populations annually as well as stream water quality parameters every quarter. These special shrimp are found in abundance in the upper reaches of Waikolu Stream in Kalaupapa NHP and Palikea Stream in Haleakalā NP. The upper reaches have the fast, cool, and clear waters that the ōpae prefer. They also have significantly fewer invasive species like the Tahitian prawn. Click here to see a simple video of this ōpae in a stream.

–Anne Farahi, NPS  Biological technician

Check out this U.S. Forest Service video about these cool little shrimp

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