Monday, May 31, 2010

Disappearing Island and Visitors

It was another fun week, as always. We're up to about 1,000 albatross chicks banded, and started the banding of the Bonin petrel chicks also. There's not many of them here though. We're also still banding red-tailed tropicbird chicks and will be for most of the year.
We also took a boat trip to the southern tip of the atoll, to Disappearing Island. It's there most of the time, but not always. The water is beautiful down there, so we had to have a look around. There are a few pictures below.
The Hi'ialakai stopped in again on its way back down to Honolulu. They're still doing reef surveys and more maritime archeological work on the shipwrecks around here. A few of the researchers and crew got to visit the island this time. They rarely get the chance to step on island, but the ocean swells were sort of high, making diving difficult, so they had a little extra time.
Other than that, we've got the usual stuff going on around here. Lots of chicks, lots of eggs of different species, and lots of noise from the sooty terns.

One of the small boats from the Hi'ialakai is dropping off a group of visitors to see the island.

Clockwise from left are Sarah, Dasha, me, Tammy, and Ruth with Disappearing Island above the waterspot on the left of the picture (photo courtesy of Caitie Kroeger).

Disappearing Island is relatively large right now but may be gone in a month or two, but then again, it may not.

An old lobster trap still sits on the bottom near the island. The black fish are Achille's tangs, and the yellow one is a relatively recent introduction to the Hawaiian Islands (1958). It is a bluestripe snapper. My underwater camera is off for repairs, so I borrowed Caitie's camera to take all of these pics.
Here's a chevron butterflyfish. These are very rare in the Hawaiian archipelago, but fairly common here because they only eat (genus) Acropora coral, commonly called table coral, seen here just behind the fish. Acropora coral is only common in Hawaii at French Frigate Shoals.

Here are a couple more Achille's tangs, yellow tangs, and ornate butterflyfish about 20 ft down.

Here's the reverse view that the volunteers see out their windows.

The wedge-tailed shearwaters really like to nest in the boat house. It's far nicer than their usual burrows. It makes the boat difficult to take out, and we frequently have to scoot the eggs out from under the trailer tires. At least these birds are pretty good at knowing they are supposed to move. The albatross chicks just sit and snap at the trailer, thinking that that'll scare it away or make it turn around.


Anonymous said...

Peter, some great underwater shots! Buzz

IrelandMan DM said...

Excellent update as always. Great underwater pics-- makes me feel like I'm there. How long do the visitors stay?

Pete Leary said...

Thanks for the compliments. They're always nice to hear. The volunteers stay for 6 months, but the visitors only get to stay for a couple of hours. They just get to visit from passing research or supply vessels.

KBLawson said...

Is Tern still open? No posts for 3 years.