Monday, July 27, 2009

More Baby Turtles

Dasha was away at hockey training last week so no one was around to publish my blog. Now that she's back, I'll catch you up on what we've been doing. Thank you Dasha!
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.
Here's a picture of them from a few weeks ago with a decent sized tiger shark. The seal crew happened to be passing by when they were tagging it. Thanks to Monica Bond for the picture. The sharks are usually pretty docile when they are flipped over on their backs.
It's time to start digging out hatched turtle nests. After the nest hatches, we give them a few days and then dig into the nest to make sure there are none stuck under big hunks of coral. Here you see Therese, Sarah, Whitney, and Adam with another 2 feet or so to go to get down to the nest.
There are a lot of nests hatching now, so between lost turtles on the runway and in the weeds, and digging out the stuck turtles, there are a lot to be saved.
I didn't get a picture of the seal today, but Derek Lee from the seal crew had this nice picture and said I could use it. So that's about what I was seeing except the water wasn't as clear today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baby Turtles

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

A Normal Week

It was a “normal” week on Tern Island. At least for us. The usual projects are still going on; seal monitoring, shark tagging, bird banding, and a lot of other smaller projects. We had an extra day off this week for the 4th of July holiday. That was nice, but for most weeks, 2 days off is too much. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but we work 6 days a week here. Any more than one day off and people usually end up doing work projects anyway. Besides, there's really nowhere to go.

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”.

Here's a fat little monk seal pup born this year. This little guy came swimming by while I was behind the seawall, so he couldn't see me. We always try to stay 150 ft from all of the seals, to minimize disturbance to them, but it would have been more of a disturbance for me to jump up and run away, than to sit and let it go by. This is one of the times that I was glad I still had my good zoom lens.

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.