Monday, March 24, 2014

Nene - Hawaii's state bird

We were able to see Nene geese on Hawaii (the "Big Island") last summer, but this is just amazing:

Nene geese on Oahu for first time since 1700s - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

This bird refuge is not far from us--I am so happy there are wild Nene there and hope they continue to live there safely!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter weather on Mauna Kea

It would be fun to visit Mauna Kea on the Big Island and play in the snow for just a little while right now:

photo by Lynn Beittel/Visionary Video

From KHON2 news:
Mauna Kea winter conditions continue

You can see what's happening on the summit via this nice array of webcams:

Mauna Kea Weather Center

photo from UH Hilo webcam

I don't miss long winters, but a little winter from time to time would be fun!  Meanwhile, here on Oahu it looks like we're getting sun again, after several days of strong wind and rain--nice to have some warmth again!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Big swells hitting North Shore, Oahu

Via Hawaii News Now:

Largest swell in decades hits Hawaiian shores, 40-50 foot waves - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Photos from around the North Shore today:

Via Freesurf Magazine:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hawaiian Monk Seals

 Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawaii, and they are one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.  When we moved here, I didn't know if I would be able to see one in the wild.  Most Hawaiian monk seals (approximately 900) live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, while about 150-200 are estimated to live here in the Main Hawaiian Islands.

Luckily, I happened to see an article asking for volunteers to join the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team Oahu (now part of the Monk Seal Foundation) last year.  I attended a training meeting, and soon after was called for my first field training--to identify a seal that was sleeping on one of our local beaches.  We do not get a lot of monk seal sightings compared to other parts of Oahu, but there is one seal who comes to our beaches fairly regularly and is known by many of the locals, nicknamed "Honey Girl."  She is the first monk seal I saw in the wild, my first field experience as a volunteer.  Since then I have seen her a few more times in our area, and I have only seen one other seal on our local beaches.  Further north there are several seals that come ashore, and occasionally I will check on them too.

Monk seal "Kaikaina" sleeping on the North Shore

Honey Girl recently had a pup, and I was able to help monitor them earlier this week.  Luckily, we live in a less-congested part of Oahu, so seals are not as likely to be disturbed by people, but since they are endangered, there are still lots of precautions that have to be taken.  One of the most important things is to protect the mother and pup, so that the pup will not become accustomed to being around people--this could lead to several problems.  Often a "Seal Protection Zone" is put up to keep people and their pets away from the seals.  Yesterday the SPZ had to be taken down, however, because of storm surges that could endanger the seals if there were ropes and fences nearby.  The pup and mother both seem to be doing very well, though, which is a big relief to all the seal volunteers and workers.  Honey Girl had recovered from life-threatening injuries the year before, and this is her first pup since her recovery.  We will continue to keep an eye on them both for a few more weeks until the pup is weaned, and then monitor them separately as often as they are seen on shore.

Sleeping monk seal mom and her pup

Monk seal pup nursing

Here is an article recently published on the Huffington Post, including a YouTube slide show of Honey Girl before, during, and after the birth.  There are two other seals that made appearances at the beach during this time, both older sisters to the new pup.

Mom and pup sleeping

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Banzai Pipeline

We're still here, and I plan to work on this blog a lot more this year--so many things to post about, and so little time, but I really want to dedicate some time every week to adding more content about life in Hawaii, especially now that we're so much more settled into our new lives on Oahu.

For now, here's some gorgeous aerial video taken by Eric Sterman of the Banzai Pipeline off the North Shore of Oahu.  The waves get huge, even dangerous, this time of year.  At the beach you have to be careful of rogue waves that come out of nowhere.  But for the really good surfers, this is the best time of year, and there are multiple surfing competitions on the North Shore.  Enjoy!

Pipeline Winter 2013 from Eric Sterman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Most of the time, we have beautiful, clean air here on Oahu.  But every once in a while the wind brings us vog--volcanic air pollution.  (See here or here.)  Luckily, none of us has asthma or other conditions that might make it dangerous.  Things just seem a little more gray and overcast for a while until the wind changes directions.

Health experts monitor Hawaii vog conditions

HYSPLIT animated GIF.
Animated GIF from UH at Manoa SOEST showing the source and movement of the vog

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helemano Farms

We were excited to find that there is a Christmas tree farm here on Oahu:  Helemano Farms.  While there are other trees shipped from the mainland at this time of year, they sell out quickly and often come with uninvited guests such as slugs and frogs from Oregon and Washington.

Helemano Farms grows two types of tree--Norfolk Pine, seen above, and Leyland Cypress, seen below:

I really love the shape of the Norfolk Pine.  We learned that when cut in a certain way, they are able to grow a new tree from the stump!  The kids chose a nice-looking tree, and one of Helemano's employees cut it for us and helped us strap it onto our car.

A new Norfolk Pine tree starting to grow from an older stump.

We set up the tree in our living room, and it looked so beautiful in its natural state I seriously considered not putting anything on it.  But of course no one else agreed with me about that.  We decided to wrap lights only around the trunk, since the branches are so spread out and can't carry a lot of weight.  My oldest took on the task of getting the lights on, and then the other kids helped put ornaments on.  I love how it turned out--it's probably my favorite Christmas tree we've ever had.