It’s BAT APPRECIATION DAY!!!
Celebrate with us with more than 40 bat species across all of our national parks for this special day. These bats contribute greatly to our natural world by eating insects, spreading seeds, and most especially pollinating plants.
The National Park of American Samoa has two fruit bats that are especially distinctive: they are renowned for being large (with a wing span up to 3 feet wide) and active both day and night. Pteropus samoensis (pe’a vao) is commonly called the Samoan fruit bat. It is presently found only in the Samoan Archipelago and Fiji. It once occurred in Tonga but is now extinct there. The other fruit bat, Pteropus tonganus (pe’a fanua), has several common names such as the Insular, White-naped, White-necked or Tongan fruit bat. It has a wider distribution in the Pacific, ranging from islands near Papua New Guinea to the Cook Islands.
In American Samoa, fruit bats can be seen flying, soaring, feeding, or just hanging in trees. Although individuals of the two species overlap in size (adults weigh 300-600 grams), there are ways to differentiate them from a distance. When silhouetted against the sky, the pe’a vao has a more triangular shape, with wings that are slightly scalloped and relatively dark and opaque. Their flight appears more relaxed, usually with slower wing beats and deeper wing strokes. It is not unusual to observe them soaring in the air in the day, taking advantage of rising currents of warm air (thermals) to seemingly float up and about without flapping their wings.
Join in the efforts to help #SaveTheBats! Visit bat conservation.org or their Facebook page, Save The Bats to learn more.
Have you ever visited Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at night?
While National Park Service biological technician, Anne Farahi, surveyed for freshwater animals in a stream in War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam, she came across an unexpected sight. A Tahitian prawn (Macrobrachium lar), presumed to be native to Guam, in the midst of eating an invasive brown tree snake (Boiga irregulars) which must have fallen into the water. These extremely invasive snakes are notorious for decimating the native birds of Guam. Watch this aggressive prawn defending its meal against other hungry prawns.
Hawaiian hoary bats, Kamehameheha butterflies, feral pua‘a, ‘ōhi‘a & koa trees, and other cool creatures emerged from the Hawaiian rainforest and marched the streets of Hilo this past Sunday, April 12 in the annual Merrie Monarch Parade. About 50 Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park rangers, staff, and volunteers joined the forest dwellers, along with park partners, supporters and staff from Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park to encourage spectators to “Find Your Park” and raise awareness of the National Park Service and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park centennial anniversaries in 2016. Here are a few photos from the fun-filled day, enjoyed by thousands of local residents and visitors. Enjoy!
Climate and Weather Affect Everything the NPS Monitors Climate and weather touch coral reefs through warmer ocean temperatures which affect coral growth; and permutations can affect whole reef ecosystems. Precipitation directly affects stream animals, plants, and water quality. Bird breeding cycles can be affected by the changes in seasons, and the list goes on. One of the primary goals of climate and weather monitoring is to determine the status and trends of weather patterns and long-term climate regimes so managers can make informed decisions about the conditions existing in each national park. Similarly, monitoring of weather and climate may provide an early warning of abnormal conditions. It is therefore very important to get accurate and consistent data from our weather stations. To be useful for statistical analysis, this generally means collecting data more than 85% of the days of the year (300 days or more). The importance of the permanent location of an individual weather station can’t be overemphasized either. All long-term (climate change) data is only of value if the station never moves. Climate/Weather Stations The Pacific Island Network Inventory & Monitoring Program (PACN) primarily relies on two kinds of weather stations, COOP (Cooperative Observer Program) and RAWS (Remote Automated Weather Stations). COOP stations are checked by specific personnel and gauges need to be read daily. We are grateful for the folks that do this work at the parks. RAWS stations send data via the GOES (NOAA geostationary server) satellite network to WRCC (Western Regional Climate Center) for validation and are then downloaded to the web, where we can retrieve it for specific analyses. Currently, all 10 PACN climate stations (RAWS) are operational and transmitting data every hour to WRCC. These data are then distributed via the internet to various agencies, and also to the public. RAWS data: http://www.raws.dri.edu/index.html COOP data: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/wfo-rfcmap.htm
Overview of Island Climate Climate is generally mild at our monitored national park sites in the Pacific islands. Weather patterns are largely controlled by island geomorphology and the surrounding Pacific Ocean. The ocean temperatures vary only about six degrees throughout the year, from lows near 73° in March to 80° in August. Because there are no continents nearby, weather systems are moderated by the ocean. Seasons are not strongly differentiated either. Two seasons prevail in Hawaii; summer (April through October) and winter (November through March). Dry and wet seasons somewhat correlate with summer and winter, respectively. The wet season in American Samoa is from October through April, and from July through November in the Marianas Islands (Saipan and Guam). Interestingly, in Hawaii, the coldest months are not December and January as they are in the continental United States, but February and March. Cold winds come from the Arctic but the lower temperatures arrive one to two months later due to the lag in the Pacific Ocean’s temperature. –S. Kichman, NPS GIS Specialist (I&M)
Fee-free weekend April 18-19 kicks off with Junior Ranger Day and International Day on Monuments and Sites
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park encourages keiki to connect with their national park and World Heritage Site by becoming a Junior Ranger on Sat., April 18 – Junior Ranger Day and International Day on Monuments and Sites.
The fee-free weekend and programs kick off National Park Week, April 18-26, 2015. This year’s theme, Find Your Park, celebrates the milestone centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park also celebrates is centennial in 2016.
A Junior Ranger station with handbooks and park information will be set up at Kīlauea Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Jaggar Museum observation deck. Keiki who complete an interactive junior ranger handbook will earn a Junior Ranger badge, a Junior Ranger certificate, and will be sworn in as a National Park Junior Ranger.
Saturday is also International Monuments and Sites Day, which marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and was the first World Heritage Site in Hawai‘i. The state’s other World Heritage Site, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, was inscribed in 2010, and representatives from both sites will share information at the Junior Ranger station.
“Our Junior Ranger programs are a perfect way for families to discover their World Heritage Site and national park together,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “As the park approaches its centennial anniversary in 2016, our most important goal is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. Every keiki who becomes a junior ranger helps ensure the future of their national parks, which serve as the model for heritage sites worldwide,” she said.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes is one of five national park units on the island of Hawai‘i. Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is also free of charge April 18 and 19. Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail do not charge entrance fees.