Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quiet again, not really

Our visitors from Duke University left last night.  They were a good group and helped out a lot with outplanting native plants and getting rid of non-native plants.  They also helped out with marine debris pickup and Laysan duck surveys.  Our regional office/Washington D.C. office visitors left on Monday, so it was a short, but good visit.
We had a medevac today also.  We had to go pick up a person from a passing cargo ship.  The US Coast Guard will be picking that person up tonight. 
I'll be going back to Honolulu for the next couple of weeks to attend the Pacific Seabird Group meeting on Oahu.  I'm not sure if I'll do a blog or not from there.  I guess that depends on if I find anything interesting to talk about, or if I get enough Midway photos before I leave.

 A Black-footed albatross chick is working its way out of the egg.

 Here's a chick that's a little older.  The Black-footed chicks are usually whiter than the Laysan albatross chicks.

 I tried to get another photo of the Short-tailed albatross chick, but the mom never got up.

Here's one of our indoor soccer games in the gym.  

There have been a lot of turtles on Turtle Beach lately.  This day there were 48 of them out basking.  There were a few nets that had washed up on the beach and the Duke students took one of their mornings to do a big cleanup there. 

The Duke students also got to see the spinner dolphins.

 Another spinner dolphin pic.  I hope you aren't getting tired of them yet.

A few brown boobies are hanging out on a buoy as the cargo ship passes by.

The swells were a bit big out there today.

The waves were smashing the old water barge that is grounded near the channel.  It's been getting beat up for decades, but is still there.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Short-tailed albatross Chick

You may have already heard, or maybe not, but our Short-tailed albatross egg hatched and we have a new chick.  This is the only known breeding pair outside of Japan.  And if you remember, last years chick was washed away from its nesting area twice, once by storm surge and once by the tsunami.  It survived and flew off.  I hope this chick doesn't have to go through that too.  It hatched last week, on Jan 12, so if all goes well, it should be out of here in July.
Here's a (long) link to the press release:

Here's a link to a couple of my photos on Flickr:

We've got a couple other groups here right now too.  We have a group of USFWS people from the regional office and a few from the D.C. office.  They are only here for a couple of days, but it's important that the people who make decisions for us out here, to have been here.

We also have a group from Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment.  They come out here as part of a class to learn about marine conservation biology.  This is the 5th year that they've been here, so as I've done in the past, I'll link to their blog:

I highly suggest reading their entries.  They take turns writing the blog and they write a lot more than I do.

This is the female Short-tailed albatross on the chick the day after it hatched.
The male came back a few days later to take his turn incubating the chick.  The parents will continue to trade incubation stints for a few more weeks before they both leave and go out foraging.

We had a nice little shindig at the All Hands Club tonight.  The band played for the Duke Students and our other visitors.  It was a good time as usual.

The team ping pong was getting pretty crazy tonight.

 A Laysan albatross takes off.

This is a sailfin tang from my snorkel trip last week.  There's also a spectacled parrotfish in the background.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Wyland/Sylvia Earle Photos

It took quite a few hours to go through all the photos I took this week.  I usually don't like to post so much, otherwise you have to sit at your computer too long, but it was an interesting week.  If you get really bored, you're allowed to quit before the end.  It was great getting a chance to talk with Dr. Sylvia Earle.  She's an inspiring person who's done a lot in her life.  Look her up if you haven't heard of her before.  Aside from conservation issues, we talked a bit about submarines, but she gets to go exploring on the fun kind (the kind with windows).  It was also fun to spend some time with Wyland and get his artist's perspective on things.  They did a press conference with Honolulu TV if you'd like to watch it:

(good, but they gave Andy Collins from NOAA credit for my photo)

I'll quit with the text right now, since I put up so many pics.

 This is the same shot of Charlie Barracks that I posted a few days ago.

Here's a better view of the lower albatross.

Wyland got the monk seal outline and general coloring done in about 10 minutes.  I took this photo about 3 minutes after he started.

 Wyland is just finishing up the seal.

Sylvia likes algae, so Wyland painted some really big algae under the turtles, since they like to eat that.  He used Susan Middleton's Archipelago book for an example.  Here's a photo break from painting with Michelle Jones (works for the State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife), Sylvia Earle, Wyland, and Susan Middleton.

Wyland sits on the bench outside of Charlie Barracks deciding what to paint.

 Sylvia is ready to dive.

After I took the group out diving, I took them to Reef Hotel for snorkeling.  Wyland had a really nice underwater camera and lighting system.  I'm sure he has a better picture of me than I have of him.

 I wish I was a little closer, but Wyland is getting a decent shot of a turtle swimming by.

I wish I was a little farther away.  It's really difficult to get a perfect underwater shot.  I guess I could just tell you that I was trying for a closeup of the front half of a surge wrasse.

This is Amanda Meyer.  She's the manager of Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.  She's also the Dive Safety Officer so she came out to assist with the SCUBA.  You can barely see Sylvia in the background taking a photo of Amanda.

The Chugach Band played on Saturday night.  Susan M., John Hannah, and Sylvia E. had a good time.

It's kind of a tradition for groups that are here to sign ceiling tiles for the All Hands Club.  This is the one that Wyland and Sylvia Earle made.

I took Sylvia, Amanda, and Susan to see the Short-tailed albatross on Sand Island.  As we were watching, it chased this Black-footed albatross off its nest and stole its egg.  It's kind of a bully sometimes and has done this before.  It loses interest in the nest after a while and goes away.  If the Black-footed albatross hangs around long enough, it can have its egg back.  Amanda saw this one back on the egg when she went jogging later in the evening.

I really liked how gold this one came out (without any photoshop work).  I showed up a little early for the dive boat last Saturday, so I got some sunrise photos.  Double click the pictures for a bit larger size.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dr. Sylvia Earle/Wyland Visit

You can usually tell when I've had a busy week, because I skip my blog.  It's been fun though.  This week we had a visit from the artist, Wyland, whom most of you probably know from his marine paintings on buildings all over the world.  Dr. Sylvia Earle also came to Midway.  She has a very long resume, but she is one of the premier ocean explorers of the last century and was a major influence on the creation of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.  I had a good time snorkeling, driving the dive boat, and showing them around.  Here is a link to an article about their visit on the USFWS Midway Atoll NWR website:

If you want to find out more about Wyland, here is his website:

And if you want to find out more about Dr. Sylvia Earle, here's a link to one of her sites with a nice slideshow of their visit:

Here is a link to a few more photos on Flickr, some that I took, most that others took.

I'll write a bit more on Sunday, but here's a few photos for now.

This is the wall of Charlie Barracks before the painting began.

 This is the finished product.  Wyland didn't do his usual undersea scene because he wanted to highlight just a few animals (and algae under the turtle).

Here are Wyland and Sylvia Earle about to go on their first dive together.  I'll show some more photos of their visit on my next entry, but here's a few other photos I took this week.

 This is a large Hawaiian spiny lobster under an overhang.  We found a spot with about 5 or 6 of them hiding in the holes.

 This is a Hawaiian green lionfish.  I used to see them a lot at French Frigate Shoals, but the only other one I saw at Midway was in the duck seep after the tsunami.

 Dan celebrates a strike at Sunday night bowling.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  It's been an eventful year out here, as usual, but I'm not going to recap, since you can just scroll down the page and do that anyway.  I was planning on starting out the year with a snorkel trip, but it was a bit too windy and a little gray today, so it was just a nice day off.  We swapped out a few of the albatross counters on the plane, and Dasha's vacation time was up, so she left on the last flight, too.  I hope it won't be too long before I can get back to D.C. to visit.  We also got 5 new Thai employees on the island.  Three of them will be helping out with the verbesina removal on Eastern Island, so it's nice to have them here.  They've got their work cut out for them.
We also did a Christmas Bird Count for the Audubon Society.  They do the count annually all across the mainland to get an idea of what birds are around.  It's nice that some of our albatross counters took their only day off from counting albatrosses to count all of the other species of birds on the island. 

Here's our Christmas tree complete with gifts underneath for our gift exchange on Christmas Eve.

 Here's Santa and his elves.  They look an awful lot like Dan, Richard, Nik, and Darlene.

One of my few artistic photos.  This is A2 playing the harmonica with the band, and a bit of messing with the camera zoom and a slow shutter speed.

 Dasha finally got to see the dolphins here at Midway on her fourth visit.  She took this photo on our way back from Eastern Island since I was driving the boat.

 Another shot of the spinner dolphins following us back to the harbor.

Just another sunset.

We finally got out to put Dasha's kayak training into use.  It was kind of windy, so we used the 2 seater so we could paddle into the wind a little easier.

This is a tagged Bristle-thighed curlew.  A group of them was tagged at their breeding grounds in Alaska.  This is the only one we've seen on Midway that's marked.