Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mokulua Islands, Lanikai

Mokulua (meaning, "the two islands") are two islets off the windward coast of O‘ahu.

They are also commonly known as "The Mokes" or the "Twin Islands." They are about a mile off Lanikai.

The larger island is also known as Moku Nui, Big Moke and Two Humps (13-acre land area.)

The smaller island is also known as Moku Iki, Baby Moke and One Hump (9-acre land area.)

The Mokulua islands are part of the summit caldera of the Ko‘olau shield volcano that slid into the ocean in one or a series of massive landslides more than a million years ago.

In what scientists call the Nu‘uanu Debris Avalanche, a landslide sheared off a third of O‘ahu and swept material more than 140 miles north of O’ahu and Moloka’i.

These old offshore islets (as well as many others off O‘ahu and around the Neighbor Islands) form the Hawai‘i State Seabird Sanctuary, created to protect the thousands of seabirds who seek refuge in and around the main Hawaiian Islands.

The sanctuary, administered by DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, exists to protect not only seabirds but also endangered native coastal vegetation.

Mokulua are primary nesting sites for ‘Ua‘u kani (Wedge-tailed Shearwater) and ‘Ou (Bulwer’s Petrel.)

The Wedge-tailed Shearwater is a dusky brown bird with white breast feathers, long and thin wings, a hooked bill and a wedge-shaped tail.

The wailing sound made by these birds at their burrows at night inspired the Hawaiian name, which means “calling or moaning petrel.”

The Bulwer’s Petrel has long pointed wings, a long pointed tail, a black bill and pale short legs.  Adult males and females are overall sooty-brown, with a pale bar across the proximal half of upper wings.

Access is restricted to areas below the high water mark, around the perimeter of the island to minimize disturbance to the birds.

You cannot go onto the island without a special permit; access is restricted to daylight hours, between sunrise and sunset.

Overnight camping, alcohol and dogs are prohibited on the Mokulua Islands

The sandy beach at Moku Nui is a destination for thousands of (resident and visitor) kayakers, surfers, and boaters every year.

Multiple commercial operations cater to the Mokulua-bound kayakers and provide equipment rental and guided eco-tours.

Because of growing public use and associated concern for water safety, last summer the city quietly set-up an undercover state-of-the-art camera surveillance system.  The city installed the camera on the smaller island.

The camera faced its sister island and monitored what was going on using a wireless satellite connection to transmit video back to the lifeguard headquarters.  Having monitored the situation, the City removed the camera to use at another undisclosed location.

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