Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Acting Manager

Well, I'm acting Refuge Manager for the time being now that the NOAA ship “Oscar Elton Sette” showed up on Thursday and picked up Dave, Jim, Irene, and Sheri. The ship is doing lobster research on this cruise, and since they were coming by anyway, they were nice enough to give those 4 a ride. They also gave us a little fresh fruit and some much needed coffee. We had about 3 weeks of coffee left and our next supply ship isn't for almost 6 weeks. Even if you don't have great math skills, you can see that that's not good. We're doing canned and frozen food for 6 more weeks, but some people get pretty creative on their cooking nights and make great dinners.
The volunteers are finally done banding the albatross chicks. I didn't count exactly how many there were, but over 3,100. Although some of them have died, since the most of the parents have stopped feeding them. It's up to them now to learn to fly and find their own food. The Masked and Red-footed boobies are next on the list for banding. They bite a lot harder than the albatross chicks, but at least their bills aren't quite as sharp. So more bruises, but fewer scars.
The weather is getting a little less windy here so Jon, Mike, and Austin (the shark crew) can finally get back to their tagging. Their project is to tag tiger, Galapagos, and blacktip sharks and monitor where they go. Shark predation is a major cause of death for monk seal pups here. They've already got a few this year, so the more they understand the sharks movements, the more they can figure out how to minimize the loss. Most of the other islands rarely lose pups to sharks. French Frigate Shoals is a good example of a “predator dominated ecosystem”. So far they've caught over 100 different sharks (some too small to tag, or a kind that doesn't really eat pups), but it hasn't slowed down anyone's snorkel trips. It seems they prefer seal pups and albatross chicks.
Thanks for posting Dasha!

Since I didn't talk about turtles this time, you at least get a picture of one. Here's a male green sea turtle swimming by while I was snorkeling.
We've been collecting a lot of marine debris lately. The seals love to play with this stuff and sometimes get stuck in it. Most of this is just from the last few weeks. Sometimes it washes up on this island, but the seal crew picks up a lot of it on their boat trips across the atoll.

I thought this was kind of funny. Here's two different species of birds (red-tailed tropicbird chick and sooty tern adult) both with eggs from red-footed boobies. I'm sure the tern has an egg of it's own to worry about and the chick just doesn't care that it's there.
A Greater frigatebird is perched on one of our plot markers with sooty terns flying over.

1 comment:

calinga said...

At any rate, I liked some of the vadlo science cartoons!