Sunday, June 27, 2010

More Albatross Banding

We got another seven hundred plus albatrosses banded this week. It's still our main job, although the masked boobies are needing bands too. We only have about 10 of those ready for banding at the moment and we only have just over 100 of them to do, so that's a bit easier to keep up with. We're getting settled into a routine for the most part, with a turtle to rescue here and there, but birds (and of course cleaning) are taking the majority of the time right now.
The turtles are still digging up all of the sand on the island for their nests and the seals are still having pups. So business as usual for those guys.
The new volunteers are spending most of their off time taking pictures or swimming/snorkeling. I think they all like it here so far. I can't think of a whole lot more to say this week so I'll just give you some pictures.

This black-footed albatross is freshly banded and is almost ready to fledge.

Since we're doing so much banding these days, here's another picture. Although Ruth just left, Keith will be here for a few more months.

A green sea turtle, great frigatebird, and a couple of albatross chicks with LaPerouse Pinnacle in the background.

A few jellyfish washed up on the beach last month. Here's one of them. At least the tentacles were missing or this would hurt.

This is a school of Hawaiian flagtails above a school of yellow-fin goatfish. This is next to the rocks that protect the north side of Tern Island.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Albatross Banding

This week we had another visit from the Kahana to pick up our trash, supplies, and personnel for return to Honolulu. The turtle techs as well as Paula, Ruth, and Sarah went back, and right now we have 5 volunteers, 3 seal crew and 1 manager. The new volunteers are learning quickly how we do things here (expecially how to keep the place clean). We also got almost 600 albatross chicks banded this week, and only another 2000 (or so) to go. We won't be able to slow down until we get that done though.
The turtles have been active around here lately, finding ways around our fences and getting stuck in various places on the island. We've had to help a few back to the beaches or back into the water in the last couple of weeks. We don't like them crawling over the entire island because they'll just crawl over anything in their way, so birds can get crushed by them.
This week has been busy, as usual, but of course it's also beautiful here as usual.
We have a vagrant bird visiting. It looks like a short-eared owl. It hides all day long in the rocks because the brown noddies harrass it non-stop when it isn't hiding. It'll probably stay around a little while longer.
Many of the sooty tern chicks have hatched and are growing quickly. They still have to watch out for the frigatebirds, which have eaten quite a few of them so far this summer.

The small boat from the Kahana had some engine trouble, so we helped them bring the last load of supplies to the ship.

Keith and Paula are helping to take down the turtle camp tent on East Island.

Here is a picture I got from Caitie. I think a good title for it is "Another Day at the Office"
(that's me looking at the coral near Disappearing Island). It would be nicer if I got to do that every day, but I get to do it more often than a lot of people, so I can't complain too much.

Monday, June 14, 2010

2 Ships and a lot of Visitors

This week was pretty busy with 2 ships. On Monday, the Robert C. Seamans, part of the Sea Education Assoc. (SEA) from Woods Hole, MA, came to visit with 26 students and faculty from the University of Hawaii and 14 crew. They were here for 3 days to learn about French Frigate Shoals and some of the biology and management issues we have here. They got the chance to count various types of coral, do some water sampling and see some of the marine debris and plastic that affects the seabirds. It seemed like they all had a great time. We even took the whole island population over for dinner and a tour on Tuesday evening. It was a good visit. They left Wednesday afternoon.
The Kahana came to bring our summer food and supplies on Wednesday morning. It was a pretty smooth offload and we should be able to make it a few more months with what we've got. They also brought 4 new volunteers, Keith, Pablo, Phillip, and another Sarah. So far, I've had a Sarah in every group except one. Caitie left on the Kahana and Sarah, Ruth, Paula, and the turtle techs (Tammy and Kristen) will be heading back on the return trip to Honolulu. The ship is coming back Thursday, so we're getting all of our trash ready to put on the ship. It will be a little less busy next week, logistically speaking, but we're still busy banding albatross chicks so don't worry about us getting bored around here.

The Robert C. Seamans is a 134', brigantine rigged ship. It was really nice, as you can see.

Here's a view of the Kahana. It's nice too, but a little more utilitarian.

This is a crazy nest. The red-footed booby adopted this frigatebird chick. We see the frigatebird parent coming back to feed it, but the booby chases it away. It's apparently getting food from someone though.

This is Pablo getting his banding practice for the albatrosses, with Dasha holding it for him.

This sooty tern was bothering the Laysan albatross as it was trying to feed its chick. The albatross didn't end up catching it, but almost.

These are some more fish on the roof. It's 2 Hawaiian whitespotted tobies (I put them next to each other so I could get by with one picture instead of two). The terns probably dropped them there.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


This week there wasn't a lot that was new, although we have a few new seal pups born, and a few more turtles nesting. We are mainly preparing for this week when we have a University of Hawaii class visiting. They will be coming Monday morning on the Woods Hole research vessel Robert C Seamans. They'll be here for a couple of days learning about coral and management issues at French Frigate Shoals. The day after they leave, we'll be getting our supplies on the Kahana. We'll also be getting 4 new volunteers and losing one volunteer, see you later, Caitie. We'll have a week or so of turnover time, and then the other volunteers and Paula (asst. mgr) will be heading back to Honolulu.
I've got a lot of prep work, so I'm keeping this week's entry relatively short.

Here's one of the issues with our seawall. Turtles get in and can't get out. They aren't any good at backing up, especially when they get wedged in somewhere. I had to first dig, then pull this female out today with help from Dasha. I'm guessing it was about 175 lbs.

Here's a sooty tern family with a brand new chick under wing.

I haven't shown you a red-tailed tropicbird flying for a while, so here's one.

The brown boobies nest on LaPerouse Pinnacle. The chicks look a lot like the masked booby chicks.

Dasha got a chance to go out with the seal crew last week. She got the rare chance to see our resident spinner dolphins. They don't like the boats much, I think mainly because we can't go fast enough to make a good wake for them to play in. On Midway they liked playing around the boats.