Sunday, December 6, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Once the hurricane passes, the Coast Guard will fly over and survey any damage. So we'll have to wait and see, but at least everyone's fine.
Here's a link to the video of the Coast Guard plane landing on Tern.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
We had a plane on Friday. Another 10 minutes and we wouldn't have. It started pouring rain just after it landed. I'm sure they would have had to turn around like last week since the visibility would have been too bad. We don't have a full service airport here so pilots have to fly on visual flight rules. It's tough to land if you can't see the island. The runway got covered in water, but thanks to our high tech water removal equipment (the volunteers and a bunch of brooms), most of the water was swept off of the main takeoff path.
If all goes well, I'll be out on the plane tomorrow (Monday). On my time off, I'll be doing some first aid training in Bend, OR, working in the office in Honolulu, and hanging out in Cleveland, and whatever else looks good while I'm gone. I may or may not make any vacation posts, we'll see if there's anything interesting in the rest of the world. If not, then I'll probably post when I get back here in Dec. See ya!
This is Round Island. It comes and goes. I hope it stays around long enough for this pup to wean. You can see Tern Island on the horizon. I wish I could bring my nice camera in the boat, but I'm not taking the chance on it getting wet. This is about as good of a zoom as I can get with my little waterproof Olympus.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
We finally got some rain. The problem is that it came the day the plane was bringing more construction workers. They got here and the visibility was terrible and there were big lakes on the runway. They flew over, took a look, then flew back to Honolulu. It rained again the next night, so we got up early and took brooms and spread all of the puddles around to dry them out. It was a pretty big job to get that done. It ended up being pretty dry so at least the plane could land on Wednesday. It was a bit muddy though. I'm hoping it doesn't rain on the 21st, since that's when I'm supposed to be flying off.
I finally got a Sunday off today, so I went snorkeling with the new people, went for a run, and watched "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". So absolutely no work today. The construction guys worked a half day, and were glad they could get finally get off the hot roof for a bit.
Here comes some of our supplies and new volunteers. The Kahana is in the background.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
We'll have another plane the day after tomorrow with a few more construction workers. So we're well on our way to the 14 that'll be here when I leave. Things are really busy around here, but it feels good to see some results.
The plane is taking off for Honolulu.
Since I talked about the nice view I had while running my 10k's, I thought I'd show you. This picture shows the nice blue water, but it also makes it look like a desert island with all the dead vegetation. It has been really dry out here lately, but still beautiful.
I haven't shown you a baby turtle for a few weeks. Here's one that we let go early in the morning and is almost home.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
We've been busy, as usual, out here. This time we've been clearing out the warehouse so the construction work can start in a week or so. It's really difficult to find other places to store all that, since that's why we have the warehouse in the first place. They should be done with it by late Nov, so I'll just have to keep things cluttered until then.
I've still had time to continue with my jogging. I decided 5k wasn't enough excercise though, so I bumped it up to 10k. Now that's enough excercise, at least for the time being. That's 5 laps around the runway. The scenery is great, so it doesn't get old. And some of the meaner birds like to try to peck my head at certain spots on the loop. It keeps me paying attention at least.
We'll be starting our flights this weekend. Many of the sooty terns have gone and I hope even more leave by the weekend so none of them get hit. The Kahana will be coming up on Labor day to bring the rest of the construction gear and 3 new volunteers. Ty will also be coming out from Honolulu to act as manager while I get my time off the island in Oct/Nov. So there's only one more week of 5 people, then by next week, we'll be back up to about 13 people. It makes cooking night a little harder, but other than that, it should be alright.
I took a little time this week to go out with Whitney and band some Bulwer's petrel chicks. We have these nest boxes for them since it hard for them to dig burrows with all the coral chunks everywhere. They use them quite a bit. Here, there are 3 chicks out of 4 nest boxes.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Kahana came today to pick up all of our trash and recycling from the last 5 months. Elizabeth also went aboard and is headed back to Honolulu. We are now down to the usual island poplulation of 5. Four volunteers and me. It's more cooking nights, entrapment walks, and cleaning duties for each of us, but it's kind of nice to have it so low key. All of the people who come out here are great, but it's just nice to have it slow down sometimes. When the construction on the warehouse starts in a few weeks, we'll be back up to 15 again. So I'm enjoying it while I can.
We're getting all of our trash into pallet tubs to put on the Kahana this morning.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
No one left on the Kahana today, but Elizabeth came on island to work on our emergency planning and supplies. She'll catch the Kahana on its way back from Midway to get back to Honolulu.
The volunteers have been working extra hard, so after the ship left this morning, I took them out for a reef survey where we snorkel around and look for entanglement hazards. We only found one net, but saw a lot of nice coral and fish. We also watched "Jaws" two nights ago. I remember when I first saw that as a kid. I was even scared to jump into the deep end of a pool for a couple of years. The one white-tip shark I saw today didn't worry me, but I think I'll wait on letting new volunteers watch it until after they've seen a few sharks. Along those lines, I think it's probably good that we don't have a copy of "The Birds" on island.
This is the landing craft from the Kahana bringing our food and construction materials.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
We now have 2 fewer people on island. Jon, Austin, and Mike (shark catchers) left to catch the plane at Midway next week. Derek and Monica (monk seal biologists) also left to go to Laysan to do some seal work there for a week or so. We got 3 new visitors too. Charles, Bob, and Tenaya are here to also work with monk seals. They are going to relocate 6 weaned pups to Nihoa, where pups have a higher survival rate than French Frigate Shoals. A pup just got bit by a shark this week, the morning after it's mother left. This one had one of it's rear flippers bitten off, so it probably won't make it since even the perfectly healthy ones have a tough time. We were bummed that it was a pretty healthy female, since the population needs females more than males at this point. I hope the seals do well on Nihoa. They'll be satellite tagged so that NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) can keep track of them for a little while at least.
Therese and Whitney are banding a Christmas shearwater chick. These are some of the best mannered birds on the island. They don't try to bite while they are being banded.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
We've been finding more and more turtle hatchlings that are crawling around the island instead of finding their way into the water. They usually crawl toward light and with a bright, high moon like it is now, they sometimes go for the middle of the island instead of the surf.
The seal pups that have weaned also have been scooting up all over the island too. The runway isn't a good spot for them, so we have to put them back on the beach. I think they learn fairly quickly that there isn't much for them up here anyway.
We're getting ready for a couple of ships in the next couple of weeks. Next Sunday, the Sette will come and get the shark guys and 2 of the seal crew. They'll be dropping off 3 more people to help with some seal work that I'll tell you about next time. They'll also be bringing about 15 boxes of groceries for us, so we're kind of looking forward to that. A few days later, the Kahana will be bringing a lot of supplies and some construction materials to fix the warehouse up. We'll finally be getting some mail too. The last time we had that was in June. I hope people sent me some goodies!!
A baby green sea turtle is trying to get into the water. I put it in a bucket though and we let it go after sunset, since there are fewer fish and birds to eat them at night.
Monday, July 27, 2009
In the last couple of weeks I got out on the boat a couple of times. I went to Trig island with the seal crew to go pick up a young pup that just weaned. We like to get them away from Trig as soon as the mom leaves them, mainly because of shark predation. This one already had a bite and it was only on its own for less than a day. It wasn't a really serious bite and seals are pretty good at healing, so it shouldn't die from that.
I also went on the boat with the shark tagging crew. I guess the sharks had better stuff to do than get tagged that day, because we didn't get a single one. Usually they at least catch some kind of shark, like sandbar sharks, or gray reef sharks even if they don't tag them. I saw one shark earlier today when I went snorkeling. It was a white tipped reef shark so it wasn't one that gets tagged either. I don't know where all the Galapagos and Tiger sharks went. If they stay away at least a few more albatross chicks might make it out of here.
It was nice to get out and snorkel today too. It's been a while since I've gone. I saw a bunch of green sea turtles swimming around and a monk seal came over to see what I was up to. The water was a bit cloudy, but I'm sure none of you feel sorry for me.
Mike and Austin are pulling in the shark line.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
It was another beautiful week. Lots of sun and enough wind to keep it from getting too hot. We got enough rain to supply water for another half of a day. There hasn't been much out of the ordinary going on except that the turtle nests have started hatching. That means when we do our entrapment walks every morning, we have to look for confused baby turtles that crawled up toward the runway instead of down to the water. We collect them in buckets to get them out of the heat and wait until after sunset to let them go. They will die within a few hours of being in the direct sunlight if we don't pick them up. The adults are still nesting, so that means we'll have to be on the lookout for them for at least the next 3 months. Saving baby turtles is always a popular activity around here.
Here's the first 2 baby green sea turtles in the bucket. If they can escape from all the predators, they may be back to start breeding here sometime within the next 20-50 years.
This mom and pup monk seal are always right near the barracks building. We can take pictures of them through the window.
Here's another Great frigatebird picture. This is all the way at the east tip of the island looking west. I've shown a lot of frigatebirds lately, but this was a good shot of the whole island, so you get another one.
Adam, Sarah, Whitney, and Therese are looking for the Bulwer's petrel nests. I showed you what they look like last time. They like to nest in places like the broken concrete at the old Coast Guard dump. That bird in front of the camera is a sooty tern. Objects in lens may not be larger than they appear.
Monday, July 6, 2009
It's been fairly calm here this week, so we snorkeled on the outer side of the atoll. It's similar to the inside of the reef, but there's a lot more coral growing out there, and bigger schools of fish. I would show you a picture, but I had to send my little camera back for repair. The battery compartment won't register as closed, so it won't take any pictures. I also had other camera trouble. My lens for my nice camera went bad, (won't focus anymore). I had to send both off on the Sette with Dave, and he mailed them off. I hope I get them back when our next mail ship gets here in about 5 weeks. I still have my 100-300 mm zoom lens and an old 35-105 lens for my Canon. So I can still take some new pictures, and at least both things are still under warranty. I have enough pictures to keep showing new ones anyway, even if I couldn't take new ones for 5 more weeks.
Thanks for posting again, Dasha!
Here's a bird I haven't shown you before. It's a Bulwer's Petrel. It looks a lot like a Christmas Shearwater (which I've shown you), and a lot like a Tristram's Storm Petrel (which I haven't shown you). These birds are bigger than a Tristram's and smaller than a Christmas, but they all look pretty similar- nondescript, brown birds. Normally these birds live in holes or under things so you don't get pictures of them just sitting around in the daytime, but this little troublemaker was trying to nest under the tractor tire, so I have to keep putting him outside, until he finds somewhere better to nest. They have a weird call too. They sound like dogs off in the distance, “woof, woof, woof”.
I haven't shown you a Gray-backed tern chick yet either. Here's one with its parent. They like to nest out in the open on the rubble.
Here's what that little chick will look like in a few more weeks. This one is almost ready to fly.
Another 50,000 reasons that we don't fly in April-August. For some reason, the sooty terns really like the runway.
A little bunch of Masked boobies are holding their ground on the runway. They like it there too, but there are not that many of them.