Was Justice Served?

Laysan Albatross ChickA week ago, I flew to Honolulu to cover the sentencing hearing of Christian Gutierrez, 19, who, along with two other young men, drove to the remote western tip of O`ahu in December 2015 to camp out in a state park. They packed a machete, air rifle, baseball bat, and photographic gear.

The three set up camp and set out hiking to a natural area reserve that only a few years before had been fenced to protect native flora and fauna from predators. Late in the year, when these three young men pushed open the gates to the reserve, they found their intended targets–charismatic Laysan albatross, a seabird highly respected by the Hawaiian culture and long studied by scientists, sitting quietly on their eggs, as if in meditation, as they do during the 65 days of incubation it takes for their growing chicks to develop and enter the air breathing world.

These young men used their weapons to bash, shoot, and mutilate a minimum of 15 adults. They crushed or left to die 17 eggs. And they photographed it all. When they were finished with their slaughter, they weren’t finished with their crimes, bragging in the days to come to friends, even posting photos of their gruesome acts to social media. Read more

On Endangered Species Day: Open Letter to Judge Castagnetti

The Honorable Jeannette Castagnetti
First Circuit Court of Hawai‘i
Ka‘ahumanu Hale
777 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Dear Judge Castagnetti:

Christian Gutierrez and the two juveniles involved in the massacre of Hawai‘i’s native Laysan albatross deserve to be sentenced to the fullest extent of the law.

Allow me to explain.

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Politics Aside: We Must All Be Mothers of Nature

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
-Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead

Albatross DepartureLate last year, at the same time the Presidential election results shook the nation, the majestic Laysan albatross started returning to Kaua‘i. They dropped their spatula-like feet and touched land after months of knowing only air and wind and a wet, watery world. As of November 8th, six had returned to the colony I monitor, here to meet up with their partners and start the creation of another generation of majestic flyers. I knew a bit of history about five of them. I knew this because of the bands around their legs. Read more

My First Photography Show

My first photography show opened on Kauai’s North Shore at Kilauea Bakery, and it’s dedicated to the majestic Laysan Albatross, a seabird with chicks popping out of eggs as I write this. The show will hang for the month of February. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. If not, here are the images hanging in the show. Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it. And if you are inspired to see these birds in the wild, a great place to catch them this time of year is Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge where they often circle the historic lighthouse en route to their breeding grounds on the refuge.

Scroll down for details and purchasing information.

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My Intersection of Science and Writing

The text came through one recent afternoon. It read:

Got stinky whale to necropsy. 10’ pilot whale on rocks, fairly stinky. Looking for a couple folks to help carry/bury carcass. It’s def rocky, slippery and steep. No worries if busy tho.

I responded that, yes, I was available to help.

Do you WANT to tho? Seriously no pressure, just thought you may be interested.

Short-finned pilot whale? Of course, I was interested. How often do you get to see the inner workings of a member of the dolphin group that usually spends its life far offshore? Animals that as adults range in length from 12 to 18 feet and weigh 2,200 to 6,600 pounds. Animals that do not reach maturity until they are about 10 and live up to 60 years of age. Females of this species gestate some 15 months and nurse their young for two years, waiting five to eight years before giving birth to their next calf. The last calf born to a mother may be nursed for as long as 15 years. Read more