Hawai‘i’s Last Dunes Are Home To Species Found Nowhere Else on the Planet
by Josh Silberg/Hakai Magazine/Smithsonianmag.com
This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.
This is not the Hawai‘i from the airplane magazine spread. No palm trees, beach chairs, umbrellaed cocktails, or perfect surf breaks. I’ve come to the island of Moloka‘i, tucked between O‘ahu, Maui, and Lāna‘i, to see a slice of Hawai‘i few tourists choose to see—a stretch of coastline covered with dunes, hardy plants, and rare species found nowhere else on the planet.
From mountaintop forests to coral reefs, the Hawaiian Islands, like most isolated island groups, are an evolutionary playground for plants and animals. A whole suite of species evolved into new forms after arriving on these volcanic landmasses. Some of the most interesting is on display on Moloka‘i’s windswept northwestern shore in the Mo‘omomi Preserve, the site of one of Hawai‘i’s last intact sand dune ecosystems.
To get to Mo‘omomi, I drive down a heavily rutted old pineapple plantation road until an empty grass-covered parking lot overlooking the ocean comes into view. As I hop out of the truck, a frigatebird overhead catches the wind and soars west over kilometers of cliffs, beaches, and dunes…
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.
She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with her husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescues.
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