A nunulu (Bonin petrel) flies above James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Pacific Rim Conservation.

Nunulu Chicks Fledge at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

After Six Years of Translocation and Social Attraction Efforts

By Jordan Akiyama, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The first wild nunulu (Bonin petrels) have successfully fledged from nests at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge in Kahuku, Oʻahu. They are part of a larger translocation success story for multiple seabird species including mōlī and kaʻupu (Laysan and black-footed albatrosses), nunulu (Bonin petrels), and ʻakihikeʻehiʻale (Tristram’s storm petrels). Pacific Rim Conservation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in partnership with the U.S. Navy and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, have translocated more than 500 seabird chicks from the monument and Pacific Rim Missile Facility on Kauaʻi to the refuge since 2015.

A predator-free site was created by removing invasive kiawe and installing a predator-proof fence around 16-acres of coastal dunes. It provides a climate-resilient nesting habitat for species threatened by sea level rise in the low-lying islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. In addition to the return of all four species as wild adults, two additional seabirds, koaʻe ʻula (red-tailed tropicbirds) and ʻuaʻu kani (wedge-tailed shearwaters), have also begun nesting at the refuge.

Night footage of a nunulu (Bonin petrel) fledging at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Pacific Rim Conservation.

“Sea level rise and surge from storms and tsunamis put these nests at risk of flooding and chicks drowning,” said Lindsay Young, Pacific Rim Conservation executive director. “By translocating these seabird chicks to the high island of Oʻahu we are not only saving the chicks on the perimeter of the low islands from drowning, but we are founding a new colony to create a more resilient population.”

This innovative conservation effort is an on-going partnership involving Pacific Rim Conservation, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Atherton Family Foundation, and the Harold Castle Foundation.

“James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is home to native and endangered species, some of the last freshwater wetlands in Hawaiʻi, and now, the newest members of our seabird colony,” said Laura Beauregard, acting refuge manager. “This partnership demonstrates how working together can make a difference for the future of wildlife.”

Night footage of a nunulu (Bonin petrel) fledging at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Pacific Rim Conservation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, connect with us through any of these social media channels at https://www.facebook.com/PacificIslandsFWS, www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/, or www.twitter.com/USFWSPacific.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Pacific Islands

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Pacific Islands

Conserving fish, wildlife, and plants from the Marianas Trench to Maunakea.