First placed on the candidate list: 1984
|The oceanic Hawaiian damselfly is one of many Hawaiian
animals suffering from lengthy bureaucratic listing delays.
There are 20 Hawaiian animals on the current candidate
list and on average they have been waiting there for 14
Years waiting for protection: 20
Habitat: streams and marshes
The oceanic Hawaiian damselfly has beautiful, translucent
wings and a black body interspersed with red or green depending
on its gender. It was placed on the federal candidate list
for Endangered Species Act protection in 1984. Twenty years
later it is still on the list, still unprotected, and still
sliding toward extinction. Today there are just seven populations
remaining and a total population of less than 1,000 damselflies.
This animal begins life as an egg, hatches into a predacious
naiad which stalks streambanks for other aquatic invertebrates
or swims after small fish, then molts into the mature form.
In this last embodiment, the falcon-like damselfly swoops
down on other flying insects such as midges. When the damselfly
itself is disturbed, it takes refuge in the forest canopy
overhanging the stream; when seized, it plays dead.
Hawaiian animals paid the ultimate price for bureaucratic
listing delays. Achatinella taeniolata, Achatinella
viridans, Achatinella pupukanioe, and Achatinella
bellula were all petitioned to be listed as endangered
species in 1976, but disappeared before they were
put on the endangered species list in 1981.
Almost all the streams and marshes on Oahu, the most heavily
populated Hawaiian island and home to the oceanic Hawaiian
damselfly, have been severely altered and degraded by agricultural
diversions and urban development. Even some whose morphology
remains intact have been rendered inhospitable by the introduction
of non-Hawaiian animals. Over 2,500 species of alien invertebrates
are now established in the islands, with more arriving in
cargo holds every year. Dozens of fish species have also
been introduced. Several of the new insects and fish prey