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From Holaniku To Crab Bank: Saving Seabird Sanctuaries (and Ourselves)

Charleston Museum event will explore connections between the work of the Kure Atoll Conservancy in Hawaii and efforts to restore South Carolina's own Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary.


From Holaniku To Crab Bank: Saving Seabird Sanctuaries (and Ourselves)

(CHARLESTON, S.C. — September 6, 2018) On October 23, Audubon South Carolina and partners are hosting a free event to raise awareness about the plight of seabirds and the sanctuaries on which they rely—as well as actions each of us can take to make a difference.

During the program, which will be held at the Charleston Museum Auditorium, Mt. Pleasant resident Virginie Ternisien will share stories and stunning photographs from her year working to restore Albatross habitat in the remote wildlife sanctuary Holaniku. Commonly known as Kure Atoll, Holaniku is the northwesternmost atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago.

Afterward, Chris Crolley, owner of Coastal Expeditions, will discuss the peril facing Crab Bank, our closest bird sanctuary and a once-productive seabird nesting site, and the extraordinary opportunity we have before us to restore this vital habitat—followed by a Q & A with presenters.

Before the program begins, guests are invited to enjoy complimentary refreshments and visit the display tables of participating organizations to learn more about their missions and ways to get involved with many local initiatives. Guests are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups and bags to this zero-waste event.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required to secure a spot: https://act.audubon.org/onlineactions/PfWE0yPty0igwAEZAd9feg2

Donations are encouraged to benefit Kure Atoll Conservancy and Crab Bank restoration efforts; and raffle tickets will be sold for an opportunity to win one of many great prizes.

What:         From Holaniku To Crab Bank: Saving Seabird Sanctuaries (and Ourselves)

When:       Tuesday, October 23

                   Doors open at 6 p.m. and presentations begin at 7 p.m. 

Where:      Charleston Museum Auditorium

                    360 Meeting St

                    Charleston, SC 29403

About Virginie Ternisien

 A native of France, Virginie originally moved to Charleston to conserve and restore the submarine H. L. Hunley (1864) and its artifacts at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. In 2017, she began focusing her career on conservation wildlife habitat restoration and, as a first experience, volunteered for the Forestry Division of Hawai'i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources on an ongoing project to restore the ecosystem of the remote Holaniku atole, which suffered damage caused by a history of human activities.

The island is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a critical breeding site for wildlife. The atoll is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds and shorebirds, the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk seals and Laysan ducks, green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, sharks, and countless of other marine species.

In 1960, the United Stated Coast Guard installed a long range navigation radio station (LORAN-C) on Kure, and built several concrete housing and various facilities, a tennis court, an active runway and a landfill, to say the least. With no implementation of biosecurity policies, invasive alien plants and animals were introduced and negatively altered the wildlife habitat and their reproductive success. Native plant species were displaced or went extinct due, in part, to the invasive nature of weeds, mammals, and arthropods, such as the golden crownbeard sunflower, rats, and the big-headed ants.

In 1990, efforts to restore the ecosystem of the 200-acre island started after the closure of the Coast Guard station and the island became a State Wildlife Sanctuary. Since 2010, year-round crews have conducted pest and invasive plant control and eradication, propagated native flora, and removed hazardous marine debris from the beaches and lagoon. But the current budget crisis has impacted funding for environmental projects. Year-round field camps aren't cheap (seasonal field station, vessel transportation) but they are proving valuable services and restoration. As a result, the island’s wildlife habitat is improving from its degraded state. The hope is that the island will remain productive in the face of continued challenges of plastic pollution, invasive species, sea level rise and climate change.

After more than a year of living off-grid, Virginie returned to Charleston in April 2018. It soon became clear that the same themes she witnessed on the extremely remote island were present in Charleston, particularly as it relates to the current issues with restoring Crab Bank, and efforts to curb plastic pollution.

About Chris Crolley

Chris Crolley started with the Charleston-based outfitter Coastal Expeditions in 1994 as the company's first employee. Now, almost 20 years later, he owns the outfit and maintains his passion for its mission of environmental education and stewardship. Coastal Expeditions reaches thousands of South Carolina residents and visitors each year, cultivating environmental awareness and appreciation for natural systems. Under Chris' leadership, Coastal Expeditions works hard to ensure that all residents have access to opportunities to enjoy nature. He partners with the conservation community through his advocacy efforts, philanthropy, and by directly collaborating on conservation projects. He has offered camp counselor positions to Audubon's summer interns for the last two years, guided trips for visiting Audubon speakers and sponsors, and works closely with other nonprofit groups like the Coastal Conservation League, Lowcountry Land Trust, Friends of Coastal South Carolina, and The Nature Conservancy to help facilitate their missions.

Chris will speak about Crab Bank, one of five critical rookeries for seabirds along the South Carolina coast. Located in Charleston Harbor near the Old Village of Mount Pleasant and the mouth of Shem Creek, the island was created by deposition of spoil material on the location decades ago. Pelicans, oystercatchers, skimmers, terns and gulls, turned the island into a rookery. Decades of shipping traffic, storms and sea level rise, however, has decimated the island.

About Audubon South Carolina

Audubon South Carolina protects birds and the places they need, right here in South Carolina. We’re the state office of the National Audubon Society, which has more than one million members and a century-long track record of success. In South Carolina, we represent nearly 20,000 Audubon members and supporters, nine Audubon chapters and bird club partners, two Audubon centers and 22,000 acres of land that we own and manage. Learn more about what we do and how to help at sc.audubon.org and follow us on Facebook at @ScAudubon, Twitter at @AudubonSc, and Instagram at @audubon_sc.

Note: This press release has been updated to reflect the new time for the event following Hurricane Florence.


Media Contact
Angelina Ricci Eisenhauer

Photos available upon request