Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

I was finally able to catch up on a little work this week.  No ships or major weather events.  We had a group of photographers here again, but they really just like to go take pictures and don't need a lot from me.  It's been nice and sunny and a bit cool.  That's good for the albatross chicks because they won't dehydrate so quickly.  We also got a chance to go look for nets on the reef and picked up a couple of small net peices.  It was beautiful.  The water is finally starting to warm up, and was nice and clear.  I forgot to add a fish picture before I started typing my text, and this blog program is difficult with a slow connection, so I'll just have to put up a pic next week.  Alright, I'll keep it short this week and give you some pictures.   

I had a request to show the cross on the eastern end of Sand Island.  I'm not sure when the last time that there were actually Easter services here.  Here is what the plaque says:

I showed you a picture of 3 people cleaning the Monument Seep a couple of weeks ago and not getting done.  We brought back some reinforcements and finished the job.

 We pumped out all of the water and scooped out pretty much all of the muck to reduce the anaerobic conditions in which bacteria that produce avian botulism like.

 A Laysan albatross feeds its chick some squid (and probably a little plastic too).

 The chicks in the old parade field are doing pretty well.

The Short-tailed albatross chick is getting its adult feathers.

I saw the dolphins again today when I was coming back from Eastern Island today.

One of our canaries sits on a twig.  No story, just a nice yellow bird.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Songkran

 Another slow internet day yesterday, so I'm a day late with the blog.  Our new Refuge Manager, Sue Schulmeister, came out to Midway last week.  It will be nice to have the extra person out here.  The person out doing the monk seal surveys found a couple of interesting things over on Eastern Island.  She found a small turtle buried in the sand on the beach.  Only its head and the tip of one flipper was out of the sand.  She thought it was dead, but dug it out anyway.  It actually was alive, and swam away.  It could have been there since the tsunami, or it could have been washed over later, but either way, it was probably there for a while and was good that she happened along.  Another thing she found was a bucket that was labelled "Laysan Island".  It was actually washed away from the camp on Laysan during the tsunami and washed up on the beach here about a month later.  Laysan is around 500 miles away, so it got here pretty quickly.  The Laysan seal crew had brought millet out for food, and it looks none the worse for wear.  I also found a message in a bottle on the beach (the second one I've found on Midway).  I opened it at a gathering we had one night, and let me just say, if you are planning on putting a message in a bottle, make sure it's sealed well, because paper doesn't last long in salt water.  Metal screwcaps don't seal that well so we could only make out a word or two, but it was written on Hawaii Outrigger Hotel stationery.

Last week we also celebrated Songkran, the Thai New Year.  Cleansing with water is part of the tradition, which means a lot of water balloons, squirt guns, and buckets.  At least it was a beautiful, sunny day, so a great day for a beach BBQ.
This is a recent photo of Eastern Island.  It's really easy to tell exactly where the tsunami water stopped.  The salt water killed most of the plants.
Here's John Klavitter giving a bike tour of the tsunami damage to our new manager, our head of Refuges for USFWS, and some visitors from Hawaii.
The tour also included the hydroponics garden, which has some good cherry tomatoes ripening.

Here's one of the more recent pics of the Short-tailed albatross chick.  We haven't seen the parents yet, but the chick is still doing fine.

I came across a masked booby nest over on Eastern Island too. 
Another interesting bird was this Laysan, Black-footed albatross hybrid.  I've never seen this guy (or girl) before.
This was the Songkran parade from the Chugach office up to Captain Brooks.
Captain Brooks Tavern was decorated nicely.

Here's one of the Songkran sand sculptures.  There was also a nice turtle and seal, but I can only show so many pictures.

John is getting a good hit on the ball.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

3 Ships

 Another exciting week as usual.  We've had 3 ships come this week.  The Robert C. Seamans is a Woods Hole Research vessel that does a semester at sea program where people learn to sail while learning oceanography, biology, or whatever the focus of the course is.  They visited us out on Tern Island last year with a University of Hawaii group.  The next ship that showed up was the Kahana, bringing us a load of fuel and will take back some of our waste.  The NOAA ship Oscar Elton Sette also stopped by.  They are putting out teams on most of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to monitor the Hawaiian monk seals. That's along with the photography visitor group, the NOAA marine debris crew, a group waiting to take the Sette to Kure Atoll, and a team working on removing some contaminants from the island.  I'm sure I'm leaving out some good stuff, but that's good for this week.

 This is the Robert C. Seamans.  A 134 ft. brigantine rigged ship.  The weather has been cloudy lately, otherwise I would have had a better photo.  There's a better one on my Tern Island blog, let me just say, it's much nicer having piers than having to run small boats out to these ships.

 Here's another shot of the Kahana.

The Oscar Elton Sette is back for the first time this season.  

Dennis, Penny, and Joanna are cleaning out the Monument seep on Eastern Island.  We pumped the water out and scooped out a lot of the muck that harbors bacteria that produces botulism toxin.  We didn't quite finish up, but at least we got rid of the anaerobic conditions that the bacteria likes.  It fills back up with groundwater pretty quickly.

Another dangerous sinkhole opened up near the seawall due to the waves crashing over.  I had to get 6 birds out of there.  We'll get it covered up this week.

I told you last week that I moved into my new (old) house.  It was recently renovated.  There are still no blinds on the windows, but it's not bad.

This is a Laysan albatross chick.  They are getting big.  I was going to show you a picture of the Short-tailed albatross chick that I took today, but this blog program is acting goofy.  It's something for you to look forward to next week, I guess.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting Back to Normal

Things were about back to normal around here. Normal being great, interesting, and busy. I moved out of Charlie barracks and into a house. A group of our contractors that were working on renovations to the old officer housing left. Four NOAA employees came to help pick up derelict fishing gear from the reef and shoreline. The NOAA ship "Oscar Elton Sette" will come soon to take all of that away from here as well as all of the other islands in the NW Hawaiian Islands. I'll put in another plug for Chris Jordan and his group. They are doing really good work out here and I'm sure their film will be great from their shots so far. It's been really intersting watching them work. I've been picking up a lot of good photo tips from them. As you've likely noticed, I write a lot more about the things that go on around here every week, and they do a lot more descriptive writing, poetry, and artistic photography to give you the feel of Midway. and Emily's latest post at One of Chris's crew was here before on the team of another movie called "Bag it". We watched it last night up at Capt. Brooks. It's a good documentary on plastic use. John Klavitter (our deputy refuge manager and former wildlife biologist) and Matt Brown (former manager here) are both in it. The weather was a bit windy last week. We were going to go over to Eastern Island to clean out the duck seeps to try to prevent another botulism outbreak in the Laysan ducks. When we get a chance, we'll pump all of the water out, scoop out the mud/muck at the bottom and let it refill from the freshwater lens in the island. Alright, enough writing for this week. Life goes on. The parade field birds don't seem to know that there was a tsunami.
I don't know if the NOAA marine debris collecting group will have a chance to get any of these nets and ropes that washed up into the middle of Eastern Island. At least they are less of a hazard to marine animals up in the middle of the island, but they can still be a bit of a hazard for birds getting entangled.

This is one of the few Bonin petrel chicks left on Eastern. There weren't that many to begin with over there. There is a lot more hard packed ground over there.

This young Great frigatebird probably didnt' die in the tsunami. Since the tree is still there. It either didn't get enough food or got entangled.

This whale spine washed up on North Beach a few weeks ago. It's about 7 ft long. The skull was found nearby a couple of days later. I haven't had a chance to identify it yet, but I will one of these days.

I'll end with another white tern.