You are here

Error message

  • Deprecated function: Methods with the same name as their class will not be constructors in a future version of PHP; ctools_context has a deprecated constructor in require_once() (line 113 of /var/www/kaupulehu/sites/all/modules/ctools/ctools.module).
  • Deprecated function: Methods with the same name as their class will not be constructors in a future version of PHP; ctools_context_required has a deprecated constructor in require_once() (line 113 of /var/www/kaupulehu/sites/all/modules/ctools/ctools.module).
  • Deprecated function: Methods with the same name as their class will not be constructors in a future version of PHP; ctools_context_optional has a deprecated constructor in require_once() (line 113 of /var/www/kaupulehu/sites/all/modules/ctools/ctools.module).
  • Deprecated function: Methods with the same name as their class will not be constructors in a future version of PHP; panels_cache_object has a deprecated constructor in require_once() (line 113 of /var/www/kaupulehu/sites/all/modules/ctools/ctools.module).

Local Observations of Environmental Change in Kekaha

Place-based and traditional ecological knowledge informed observations of change can identify environmental changes, including those associated with climate change. These insights can complement those of scientists and managers by helping to ground-truth and refine regional climate models and  improve the utility of climate change predictions and the confidence in climate change analyses.  See examples here.  They can also inform natural-cultural resource management in the face of change. As the effects of climate change are and will be interwoven with other drivers of change, they are observed and discussed together.  The observations below are from interviews, focus groups, and community meetings (from 2012-2014) with people who have in-depth and long term experience in Kekaha. They include lineal descedents and kama‘aina of Ka‘ūpūlehu, and land and resource managers working in both mauka and makai environments in Kekaha.

The poem, The Readers, by Ku‘ulei Keakealani asks us to reflect on who the skillful readers and observers of change are. She encourages those who are not yet readers to accept their kuleana of engaging with and observing place.

Less Rain 

For about the last 20 years, kama‘āina have been observing a decreased frequency, amount, and regularity of rain in Kekaha. November through April used to be “the season” for rain, but now it is unpredictable. There is much less rain and fewer rain events. Wiliwili has been drying up, ‘ōhi’a are falling down, and mamane and eucalyptus are dying.   Into the 1990s, it rained regularly at 3pm at Kahuwai, but not anymore.  Short, high-intensity rainfall events now create erosion and landslides up mauka. The lack of ua lili (gentle mist rain) at the shoreline is associated with decreased limu pahe‘e.   There is concern that the lack of fresh water will affect the reproductive cycles for fish in the nearshore environment and for limu at the shoreline.  Trees are seen as critical for attracting clouds and rain, and  keeping moisture in the soil and prevent erosion. Development up mauka that has removed trees is one of the factors thought to negatively affect rain, in addition to changing weather patterns. 

Unpredictable Winds

Trade winds are less frequent than in the past. Kona winds do not bring the rains as before.  This has meant hotter, drier weather.  Robert “Sonny” Keakealani describes the changes in winds and rains here. (Recorded December 2013.)

Warmer Air

The wintertime is shorter and warmer with temperatures that feel more like summertime. Summer months are now much hotter and last longer.  Mango now fruits in different cycles, ones that are not predictable. Some plants have been observed to have much longer blooming seasons than normal and are flowering early.  Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualālai all used to have snow on their peaks for two to three months during “the season” but that has not been the case for decades.  Aunty Lei Keakealani describes changes in the landscape due to weather, development, and human use activities from mauka to makai (recorded February 2014). 

Fewer Swells and Changed Current

Winter swells are fewer and do not last as long as in the past. The current is weaker and the north current that has been the dominant current along Kekaha has been less reliable than in the past, which makes fishing more difficult.

Variable Ocean Temperatures

Water temperature goes up and down from year to year.  In 2013, the waters were warmer and fishing for tunas and opelu was good.  Pelagic fish came early and in large numbers. Kona crabs spawned earlier than usual. The previous year when waters were cooler, they spawned later and fishing for tunas was not as good.  Although no clear trend in ocean temperatures has been observed locally, it is clear that ocean temperature is observed to affect marine life and local observations of change will continue to be important as ocean temperatures are projected to increase.

Fires Increased

With more invasive grasses and fewer cattle to keep the grass down, there is more fuel load to burn and more intense fires.  During the cowboy days, fire management was more localized and efficient in responding.

Plant and Animal Populations Shifting

Native plant populations are declining. Wiliwili, ‘ōhi’a lehua, and māmane were given as examples. Food and medicine plants such as guava, pōpolo, koali, kukui, jovi, and panini populations are also declining. In the case of the panini, its decline is due to the introdction of a betel as a biocontrol. Panini was fed to cattle during the dry times for water, and now that is not an option.  Its fruit was also a local treat.  More invasive plants such as fireweed and fountaingrass are covering a larger areas.  

Because there is less forest, there are fewer pigs, which means hunters have to go outside of Kekaha.   Similarly, there has been a decline in native forest birds such as the alalā (Hawaiian crow), which has not been seen in Ka‘ūpūlehu forests for decades. At the shoreline, migratory birds now follow different patterns. The kōlea is now seen in summer as well as the usual winter months.  Ducks and Canada geese used to migrate to the ponds in the back of Kīholo, but since hau has overtaken the ponds they do not come.  Ducks also used to come to Honokoōkau, but no more.  Invasive pests such as flies and insects have increased at the shoreline, making it difficult to dry fish as was practiced in the past. Goat populations are out of control from mauka to makai and they continue to eat trees and grasses.

Marine plants follow similar patterns as land-based plants with fewer natives and more non-natives.  Native limu such as pahe‘e, kala, and kohu are less abundant than in the past. This is said to be due to lack of rain, uprooting the limu rather than cutting it when harvesting, and increased honu populations that eat the limu.   Non-native limu is seen more than in the past. Disturbances such as El Niño in the late 1900s and the last tsunami in 2009, brought growth of non-native limu. Limu kala was also abundant during that  El Niño year with hundreds of pounds having washed up on shore at Kahuwai.  With the moratorium on honu harvesting, their populations are seen as out of balance. Some people have observed that the honu eat too much limu and attract more sharks to the nearshore envirnoment.  In most areas of Kekaha, Hā‘uke‘uke are smaller and fewer than in the past because there is less limu for them and due to run-off; however, at Kalaemanō, their populations seem to be increasing, possible due to decreases in mū. The introduction of taape, roi, and taau have has come with decreases in native fish, such as mempache. The Marquesian sardine (introduced) competes with the native iau.

Increasing fishing pressure (from all types of fishing from seiners, to net fishing, to aquarium fishing) is seen as a strong influence on declining populations.  Generally, the avaialble reef fish are smaller now and are fewer.

Anchialine Ponds

Over time the salt water wells at Hualālai have become less saline, but the salinity in natural ponds has remained the same. In two of the larger ponds, raising the salinity from 4ppt to 7ppt was a management strategy to control non-native dragon fly nymphs and Bufo tadpoles, both of which prey upon or displace native shrimp species. Subsequently, these species have responded by becoming more salt adapted and survive in salinities of up to 10ppt. Visual observation over the last 15 years indicate minnows (Gambusia affinis) are attaining larger sizes than in the past. The 2011 tsunami caused a decrease the beneficial representative cyanobacteria crusts in ponds. Filamentous chain diatoms and Chlorophytes have increased.  (These observations are from David Chai, Consultant for Hualālai Development and Director of Natural Resources at Hualālai Resort for the last 24 years.) 

Restored fish ponds affected by tsunami

Sea level rise and Waiakauhi Fish Pond and nearby sand burm

Sea level rise may increase some habitat for ʻōpae ʻula

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer