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Protecting Seabird Habitat on Lehua Island

The Lehua Island Restoration Project aims to protect Hawai’i’s native seabirds, such as the Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrel and Bulwer’s Petrel, and support island biodiversity.

Islands are home to 20% of all bird, reptile, and plant species, but invasive species threaten the biodiversity of many islands around the world. Lehua Island is no exception and is vital to the health of many native seabirds as it provides important nesting habitat. That’s why conservationists have plans to remove invasive rats from the island.

Attempts by the ESA Threatened (IUCN Endangered) Newell’s Shearwater to establish a breeding colony on Lehua have failed since the introduction of non-native, damaging (invasive) predators. Following the removal of invasive rats, Lehua can become a key breeding site and the largest invasive mammal-free habitat for this highly imperiled seabird.

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Newell’s Shearwater chick in burrow. Credit: André Raine

Another species found on Lehua is the Bulwer’s Petrel. This small seabird, about the size of your hand, makes funny bark-like vocalizations and is unable to defend itself against invasive rats while nesting. The Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrel is also expected to benefit from restoration efforts.

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A Bulwer’s Petrel soaring over the ocean. Credit: Peter Flood

Removing the invasive rats from Lehua would be a critical step in making the island safe and inviting for seabirds and protecting island biodiversity.

Featured Photo: Juvenile Red-tailed Tropicbird. Credit: Island Conservation

About Island Conservation

Island Conservation prevents extinctions by removing invasive species from islands. To date, we have successfully restored 60 islands worldwide, benefiting 1090 populations of 399 species and subspecies. Working together with local communities, government management agencies, and conservation organizations, we select islands that have the greatest potential for preventing the extinction of globally threatened species.

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