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For Thursday, October 21, 2010

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:55 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2010

$11M grant to aid center's research

An $11 million federal grant will enable the University of Hawaii's Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research to continue work on dengue and other diseases.

The center's director, Richard Yanagihara, said the five-year grant will enable the center to focus on emerging and re-emerging microbial threats.

A dengue outbreak in Hawaii in 2001 helped lead to the establishment of the center in 2003.

One of the center's main research targets is West Nile virus. It hasn't yet reached Hawaii or Alaska but has affected people in the other 48 states and Puerto Rico. 

First whale seen off Maui

The first humpback whale sighting of the season was reported yesterday morning 2.3 miles off the west coast of Maui.

Megan Haertling, spokeswoman for the Pacific Whale Foundation, said Capt. Chris Howard, skipper of the catamaran Alii Nui, reported seeing a single young male whale at 9:35 a.m.

She said humpback whales migrate nearly 3,000 miles from Alaska, where they feed during the summer, to Hawaii, where they breed and deliver calves during the winter.

For more information, go to or call 808-249-8811.

Big Island areas closed

The state land department is closing several more areas on the Big Island because of extreme fire-hazard conditions caused by the drought.

All public activities, including hunting, hiking and off-road vehicle use, will be affected in the closed areas, said the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The closures are necessary to protect the sensitive and unique natural resources in the area, DLNR said. Closures will last from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 or until sufficient rainfall reduces the fire risk.

Areas to be closed are: Kaohe Lease Cooperative Game Management Area, Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve, Puuanahulu Game Management Area, Kapapala Ranch Cooperative Game Management Area, Kapapala Forest Reserve, and Kahua/Ponoholo Ranch Special Permit Area.

Mauna Kea Forest Reserve and Kaohe Game Management Area will remain closed until Dec. 31.

Mauna Kea State Recreation Area is still open.

For more information on closures, call the Division of Forestry and Wildlife office at 974-4221.

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