Friday, January 4, 2019

Last Hawaiian yellow-tipped tree snail dies.


 Achatinella apexfulva. Credit: DLNR
The tree snails of O`ahu were both common and famous.
So common that kids would walk into the hills above Honolulu and collect them to make leis. So famous that songs and legends referred to them.
Today, habitat change, predatory snails, rats, chameleons and other threats have made all of the many species rare. And now, another one, Achatinella apexfulva, has become extinct.
The last of his species, this guy was in captivity, and he made it into this year. He died New Year's Day 2019, at age 14.
This Achatinella was part of a gorgeous clan. The tree snail shells are just amazing, with whorls of gold and green, chocolate and café-au-lait, black and ivory. George himself was among the less stunning specimens, his palate limited to pales and browns.
Like his kin, he was famous. Hundreds of school kids have come to see him. He was named Lonesome George, after a lone tortoise from the Galapagos Island of Pinta. Tortoise George was also the last of his species, and he died in 2012. Read more about that George here
George was part of a small group of the last Achatinella apexfulva that were taken into captivity by the Snail Extinction Prevention Program. Researchers were able to get some to reproduce, but not enough to sustain the species. Their scientific name referred to the yellow tip on their shells.
George, a hermaphrodite like all of his species, could play both the male and female roles in reproduction, but apparently required a mate in order to reproduce. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced his demise.
More on the Snail program, along with some stunning imagery of the beautiful shells, is here
The tree snails and others in the Hawaiian native forest will be featured in an hour-long film, "Forests for Life," which looks at all the benefits of native forests and the threats they face. The film will be shown on KFVE-TV (K5), at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18th with a repeat on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.
© Jan TenBruggencate 2018

1 comment:

Kirsten Turner said...

Mahalo for sharing this sad news. Its important we all be made aware.