HAWAIIAN SEABIRDS AND OCEAN ENERGY
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.