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!
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.