USGS Western Ecological Research Center

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Hawai'i provides substantial breeding habitats for more than a dozen bird species. WERC is providing scientific data to evaluate potential effects to these seabirds from renewable energy projects planned for Hawaiian waters.

  • News
    Project updates and field photos
  • Project Maps
    Maps of study sites on Main Hawai'ian Islands and sample tracking data for select species.
  • Personnel
    Personnel and collaborators
Laysan Albatross  --Photographer: J. Felis, USGS



The Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and associated offshore islets (i.e., Moku Manu, Lehua, and Molokini) provide substantial breeding habitat for more than 19 seabird species. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State of Hawai'i have received proposals to develop offshore renewable energy related projects within waters surrounding the MHI that have the potential to negatively impact seabirds which have been documented to interact with wind-turbine structures, lighted facilities, elevated power lines on land, and lighted ships off Hawai'i. In 2013, USGS-Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) initiated collaborative at-sea tracking studies of MHI seabirds to provide information needed by BOEM to assess potential risks that proposed offshore energy developments have to MHI seabirds. 

Studies in 2013 focused on intra-seasonal and inter-colony differences in the foraging behaviors among relatively abundant Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) and
Federally Endangered Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis).  In 2014, we will continue collaborative tracking efforts during April through October and include greater representation in the at-sea distribution and ranging behaviors among Red-tailed Tropicbirds (
Phaethon rubricauda), Red-footed Boobies (Sula sula), and Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) on Kaua'i and Oahu. In addition, we will continue to track Wedge-tailed Shearwaters at multiple sites throughout the MHI in order to gain a better understanding of inter-annual and inter-colony variability in at sea habitat use and ranging behaviors.


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