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For Monday, July 18, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services


Dolphins follow eddies for foraging

A new study on a dolphin species shows the mammals use offshore eddies, or currents, in Hawaii waters as foraging areas.

The study, which appeared online in the journal Marine Mammal Science last week, showed three of 10 melon-headed whales tagged for the study spent much of their time along or near the center of eddies off Hawaii.

Eddies are currents that run counter to the main current. Off Hawaii they're created by wind and ocean currents that pass around the islands. Dolphin prey and animals including sea turtles, game fish and seabirds flock to them.

The study was authored by scientists from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Cascadia Research Collective, Wild Whale Research Foundation and University of Alaska.

Charter School Task Force to assemble

A new group reviewing management of Hawaii's charter schools is meeting for the first time this week.

The Charter School Task Force, which was created by a law signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie last week, will meet at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The law calls for the task force to develop lines of accountability between the charter school system and government education leaders.

The group also will outline oversight responsibilities, discuss funding levels and identify how charter schools' governance structure connects to the state education agency.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Jill Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Kailua) says she wants to ensure that accountability and monitoring systems are in place.

The task force has scheduled five meetings, and it will make recommendations to the Legislature before next year's session.

Panel suggests 2 as UH regent nominees

An advisory council has recommended two new nominees for Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill vacancies on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

Gregory Chun, vice president of Kamehameha Schools, and Barry Mizuno, an energy consultant and former managing director of Hawaii County, were recommended.

In April the state Senate Education Committee rejected two of Abercrombie's Hawaii County nominees to the board. Abercrombie withdrew the nominations rather than subject the nominees to full Senate votes.

State Sen. Jill Tokuda, the committee's chairman, criticized the advisory council's screening process at the time. She suggested lawmakers might make changes next session.

An Abercrombie spokeswoman said the selection process was "clearly not working."

Voters approved a constitutional amendment supporting an advisory council to screen regents, and state lawmakers established the council. Former Gov. Linda Lingle resisted but was eventually ordered by the state Supreme Court to chose nominees from lists recommended by the advisory council.

Guide helps Kauai visitors experience beaches safely

Kauai County is distributing a new Official Kauai Beach Guide with updated information on lifeguard stations, rip currents and important safety tips.

"The beach safety guide is part of a larger effort to continue to educate our visitors on how to stay safe while visiting our beautiful beaches," Kalani Vierra, head of the Ocean Safety Bureau, said in an announcement Friday. "We urge any individual or organization that deals with visitors regularly to have these ocean safety brochures on hand."

The free guide, now in its fifth edition, is available through the Kauai Fire Department, the Office of Economic Development and the Kauai Visitors Bureau. It is already on stands at the Lihue airport and several hotels.

Organizers estimate that more than 1 million copies of the brochure have been printed since its original version in 1999.

Access to beaches restricted after shark sightings

Shark sightings closed two West Hawaii beaches Friday, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Access was limited at Kahaluu and Laaloa beach parks after two sharks were spotted Thursday and Friday.

A 15-foot tiger shark was spotted near Kahaluu by a Hawaii Fire Department crew in a helicopter at about 9 a.m. Friday. Lifeguards at Laaloa, or Magic Sands, were letting some beachgoers sand-skim near shore but weren't letting swimmers venture into deeper water after a shark was spotted at 12:30 p.m. Friday about 100 feet offshore.

Lifeguards also saw a shark Thursday morning at Laaloa.

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