By Darius and Delray
On Friday June 17, we visited Kalaeloa National Wildlife Refuge and met with Dr. Healani Chang (UH Manoa), Lorena "Tap" Wada (US Fish & Wildlife Service), and Molly Hagemann (Bishop Museum). Here, they taught us about the anchialine pools and the 'opae 'ula as well as the extinct Hawaiian birds that used to reside in this unique coastal ecosystem. The Kalaeloa/Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge provides a safe haven for birds that roamed this Earth before. Most are endangered or practically extinct. To name a few are the ae'o, alae ke'oke'o, and koloa maoli. The primary cause of lost birds are due to degradation of wetland habitats and introduced predators. Other than birds, there are native plants but not many are still around, like the 'Ewa Hinahina and 'Akoko. Underground water pools (anchialine pools) located at Kalaeloa are brackish, which is good for 'opae 'ula (red shrimp) to live in. Anchialine pools filled with Halocaridina rubra ('opae 'ula) are commonly found in Hawai'i. The Halocaridina genus of anchialine pool shrimp occurs only in Hawai'i with other species found on the islands of Hawai'i and Maui. There are at least 8 different lineages of 'opae 'ula that are found statewide. The 'opae 'ula can reach up to 10-15 years old and is 2-3 inches in size and their colors are red, pink, white, and light yellow.