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Honolulu Alum Relocates Birds to Dodge Rising Sea Levels

Posted on Monday, January 30, 2023

1996 ARCS Scholar Eric VanderWerf is relocating seabirds whose habitat lies just six feet above current sea level in a race against climate change. "Tern Island is washing away" as sea levels rise, the biologist told the Associated Press. Pacific Rim Conservation, the non-profit VanderWerf founded with his wife and fellow ARCS Scholar Lindsey Young, is relocating 40 Tristram's storm petrel chicks. The birds normally nest in ground burrows on the low-lying 26-acre atoll in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. VanderWerf hopes they will return to their new home in artifical burrows on O‘ahu to nest as adults.

Tristram's Storm Petrel chick in palm of a hand"In 30 years, these birds will certainly be rare if we don't do something about it," he said.

The effort is cited in AP's article about new conservation strategies as climate change accelerates faster than species' ability to adapt. Relocation has been used to restore species to previous habitats; now the Biden Administration is proposing a change to lthe U.S. Endangered Species Act that would make it easier use relocation to areas where species have not been previously recorded.

Read the Associated Press article.
Visit the Pacific Rim Conservation website to learn about other translocation projects.


Eric VanderWerf holding bird