Monday, November 3, 2008

Tern Island Blog

I finally started my Tern Island blog. If you are interested in Midway, stay on this blog, but for my new adventures on another Northwestern Hawaiian Island, go to:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Job

Here's the update you've been waiting for. I got a new job. It might actually be blog worthy (I can maybe do one once a week or so because daily is way too much work). I've accepted a job at French Frigate shoals. It's also an atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago and is about 700 miles closer to Hawaii than Midway. There's a little island called Tern Island in the atoll. There is a very small runway there, but most of the traffic is by boat. Midway is a big city compared to Tern. There is only 4 to 10 people there at any given time. I will be a Refuge Specialist (Asst. Manager). I don't have a set start date yet, but when I get there I'll update the blog with new info.
Today I went to Case Western Reserve University where Dasha is teaching a group of high school kids about plastic. I brought some albatross boluses (undigested stomach contents) and the kids dissected them and measured the squid beaks, plastic, fishing line, etc. Yesterday I gave them a presentation about the wildlife on Midway and the plastic issues. She showed them the BBC footage also. I went with them while they did a debris pick-up on the beach at Lake Erie last week, so it was almost like being on Midway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back Home

Well, after 1 year and over 57,000 pictures later, I'm back home. It was a wonderful experience in every aspect. The work was hard, but not stressful, the people were great, and the island and wildlife were amazing. I don't think I have to go into the details, because there's a couple hundred days of details on this blog. If you ever have a chance to get out there, do it!
I'm not sure what's next on my agenda, but I doubt it will be blog-worthy. I will leave this blog up for people searching for Midway, but probably won't add to it unless I start to do something that's worth writing about.
Thanks to all of you who have commented and kept reading. I still can be emailed through my profile. I'm not posting any new pictures today, just a few representative pics.

Green sea turtle underwater near the fuel pier.

Laysan albatross with chick.

Black-footed albatross with chick.

Old WWII Command Post.
One of the four cable houses.

Laysan albatross in flight.

Spinner Dolphin in the lagoon.

Native morning glory on the seawall with the fuel pier in the background.

Turtle Beach.

The WWII pillbox on South Beach.

Great frigatebirds fighting over a fish at sunset.

A Laysan Teal is stretches in the sun.

Red-footed boobies near South Beach.

Red-tailed tropic bird and chick.

White tern chick.

Look through the older posts for more details.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Last Day

I'm too busy packing and getting ready to go to make a post. I'll write one up when I get back to Cleveland in 2 days, so check back then. Sorry!

One More Day

Today I filled out my paperwork for leaving Midway. It was funny because I had to verify that I had turned in my transportation pass, parking pass, and keys, which was easy since I didn't have any of that. I still haven't finished packing, but what I can't fit in my bag will be sent, so I will still have time for my last snorkel trip in the morning.

My plane came in tonight and will stay until tomorrow night. There were quite a few familiar faces. One of the fire fighters that was here a couple years ago came back (Dave O.), one of the Nuclear Test Ban guys came back to work on his monitoring equipment (Bo), my timekeeper from Honolulu (Pat) who also brought me a very nice going away lei, and John H's wife Mali and grandaughter Angela (who flew out with me when I came out last June). I also got to meet Murray's girlfriend, Sarah, who has made a few blog comments lately. There were also a few other people on board who I will get to know a little better tomorrow. We were also supposed to have a medevac for another Japanese fisherman, but apparently he got better. It's going to be a busy day tomorrow, so goodnight.

I was a little too busy to take pictures today, so here's one of a white tern from a while ago.

I finally got a flying black-footed albatross picture that I like.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eastern Island

This morning Greg, Forest, Kim, and I went to Eastern Island to survey the plant situation over there. We found pretty much the plants we expected over there. This afternoon was an inside day. We went over some more plant information, too bad I didn't get all of this a year ago.
I've only got 2 days left on Midway. So I hope all of you daily blog readers will find something else that can keep you busy for 2 minutes a day.

Brown noddies are on an old ironwood stump.

I haven't put a picture of a frigatebird chick yet, so here it is with its mom.

Here's a Laysan albatross on the south side of Eastern Island.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Battle of Midway Commemoration

We had 109 visitors today to commemorate the Battle of Midway which was fought June 4-7, 1942. It was a nice ceremony and people had a great time even though they were only here for about 8 hours. We thought that we might have overnight visitors after an albatross went through the engine during landing, but after cleanup and inspection, they determined that there was no damage and the plane could leave. After the ceremony, the visitors had a walking tour of the major island sites such as the seaplane hangar, command post, cable houses, and memorials. They ended up getting some beach time and had some food and drinks at Capt. Brooks' Tavern. I'm glad I got to take part in this before I'm gone.

We had the ceremony under the hangar.

Our main speaker was Lieutenant Colonel H.C. (Hank) Stackpole, USMC (Ret.).

Chuck Wheeler was on the USS Enterprise during The Battle of Midway. He's pointing to his group.

A group is listenening to the story of George Cannon at the command post.

The Japanese Consul General came from Honolulu to honor the Japanese losses during the battle.

Some of the visitors are enjoying the beach just before sunset.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Spit Island

Today we took Forest and Kim Starr over to Spit Island to look at the plants there. They couldnt believe how much the naupaka and heliotrope have taken over the island. They also were happy to see the popolo (solanum nelsonii) and sea purslane were doing so well. Greg and I pulled the verbesina that has sprouted since the last time (about 2 months ago).
Tomorrow is our big day so I'm going to quit writing and get to bed.

Forest and Kim are checking out one of the popolo plants.

A red-footed booby chick seeing what's going on from its nest in a heliotrope tree.

There were 9 seals on Spit Island today. Here are 5 of the seals. There are 2 mothers with pups and another seal resting nearby. You can see a dark speck on the beach on Eastern Island near the top of the picture that is another mom and pup pair.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Plant Work

I had my last Monday morning meeting today. The new volunteers introduced themselves; Susie, Anne, and Dan are looking forward to helping out. Barbara came to coordinate the June 4th celebration. Forest and Kim Starr are out here to do a plant survey and tell us which plants need controlling immediately and which aren't that bad. This afternoon Greg and I took them around the island and asked them to identify a few plants that we wondered about. They had found a few plants that could become big problems that weren't here the last time they were out here in 1999. They were volunteers out here and did the plant surveys in their off time. They did a lot of work! They are also the only people I've met that have taken as many pictures as me. They have all their pictures (most of the plants all across the Hawaiian chain) on a website called (Hawaiian Ecosystems At Risk). I've been looking at their pictures to identify plants around here every couple of weeks since I've been here, so it's great to finally meet them.

This is one of our native plants, Sesuvium portulacastrum, or sea purslane (Akulikuli in Hawaii) out at Bulky Dump.

This albatross chick has lost all of its down and looks like it's ready to fledge already. It was out on Bulky Dump also.

It was a good day for getting flying albatross pictures today.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Boat Ride

This afternoon we took a boat ride around the outside of the atoll. It was actually official business since the boat will be driven to Kure Atoll (about 60 miles away) next month and we had to figure out how much gas it would use and how fast it would go with 5 people and gear. It took us an hour and 10 minutes to go 26 miles around the outside of the atoll, so it probably take about 2 1/2 hours to Kure, depending on the conditions. We saw quite a few birds and some flying fish, but mostly it was just a nice ride around the atoll.

This is the Safeboat that they'll take to Kure Atoll.

This is what Sand Island looks like from the north. It was pretty humid today so you can't see the island that well over the exposed reef.

This is from the south. The edge of the reef is a lot closer on this side of the island. This is the pillbox, old hangar, and water tower.

Beach Day

Today was a beautiful day. The beach was pretty busy. There were 16 people there at once. Brent, Dana, and I were out swimming pretty far from the beach when the dolphins came by. We could hear them squeaking underwater before we could see them. They swam around us for about 10 minutes and then followed us for a little while we swam toward shore. It would have been nice to have a camera since they came within about 8 feet of us.

The Walnut took off today and the visitors left also. That's the last group until sometime after the birds come back. It'll be fairly quiet around here, but I'll be busy getting ready to leave. Just 1 week from tonight!

I'm going to miss this beach. It doesn't get much better than this.

The Walnut is on its way out with our marine debris.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Busy Day

The Walnut came today and took most of our nets. They couldn't quite fit them all in the shipping container, so we've got a little pile left. They'll pick them up some other time I guess. This afternoon we did some more chainsawing and then had a BBQ at the Walnut. The island residents and even some of the visitors came out to have some food and drinks and meet the crew. It was a good time and we also got a tour. The plane came in tonight and 3 new volunteers came in for the summer, a few other people came in too so I'll meet them over the next few days.
Here's the Walnut. All of the Coast Guard buoy tenders are named after trees.

This was the scene at the BBQ.

Greg and I found this albatross about to drown in the harbor so we pulled it out. It probably won't make it, but at least it has a chance.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Busy Day

It was a busy day today. We started out with a weed pull at the field where the Pan Am Hotel was. The visitors and volunteers came out and we got it all done. We then tried to get a big net off of the rocks by the fuel farm, but it was too heavy and it looks like we'll need some of the heavy equipment to pick it up. We wanted to get it out because a Coast Guard ship is coming in tomorrow morning to pick up all of our marine debris nets and ropes. The "Walnut", which is a buoy tender, is coming in for a day and will take the nets back to Honolulu.
And speaking of the Coast Guard, a medevac plane (C-130) is coming in tonight. A person was sick on a cargo ship and we went out and picked him up outside of the atoll a couple of hours ago. They'll take him to Honolulu tonight.
We also went through our big marine debris pile and separated out all of the ropes and lines, glass, metal, and plastic. It was sort of fun to go through all that junk and see what has washed up over the last 2 years.

The visitors are pulling the verbesina.

We needed the big telehandler forklift to sort through the net pile.

Here's me, Greg, Brent, and Dana.

This is the cargo ship waiting outside of the atoll for the Safeboat to get there. I took this picture next to the power plant looking south over the runway.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

66th Preparation

We are starting to get ready for the 66th aniversary of the Battle of Midway. We'll have a ceremony a week from today (Wednesday). There will be a Continental charter flight bringing out a bunch of people for the day. They will only be here about 8 hours, but it should be nice. I just missed it last year when they had about 2,000 people out here. A cruise ship pulled in as well as the flights. Greg and I have really been concentrating on spraying the town area to make it look good. We'll do a lot of hand pulling the weeds in the visible places too.

It was a perfect day today. I went for a swim at lunch and took this picture of Capt. Brooks' Tavern on the left and the Clipper House on the right.

A monk seal swam by just after I got out of the water.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The patanque tournament went until 11:00 last night. Willie and "E" won. Next time we'll have to start early in the morning.

Two of the visitors here now are sisters and attended school on Midway between 1976 and 1978 so it's been fun to talk to them. We have a yearbook from 1976 that has pictures of them in 3rd and 10th grades. They have some great stories and have a lot of information about where things were. They are really glad to be back and they said they have been reading my blog, which prepared them for things like the school being torn down. They are also disappointed that there aren't seashells all over North Beach like there were back then. They are happy they have the chance to bring their families to the place that they have such great memories of.

This white tern was sitting near the harbor waiting to feed its chick.

I left for about 30 minutes and found another tern (or maybe the same one) in the same spot with another meal for its chick. This is a little cuttlefish or squid.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

This morning we had a little Memorial Day ceremony at the Navy Memorial. Barry read a message from The President, Darlene read a poem she wrote, and we had a moment of silence. Bob and Pong made a beautiful wreath and some leis for for the George Cannon memorial.
At 1:00 we started a patanque (pronounced patak) tournement. It is pretty much the same as bocce ball. It's 10:15 and still going on. Dave (airport manager) and I were partners and got knocked out at 8:30 so it was a good activity for the day.

Here is the wreath at the Navy memorial made from plumeria, hibiscus, spider lillies, and even a couple of verbesina flowers and castor bean seeds.

This is the George Cannon memorial. As I've said before, he was the first Marine in WWII to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He was killed Dec. 7, 1941 when a bomb bounced off another roof and came through the window (I've heard it's the one on the left in the picture). The 4 ft. thick roof probably would have stopped the bomb, but it was a lucky shot.

Barry is looking for his next shot at patanque.

The game is still going on with work lights and golf carts.