Sunday, June 24, 2012

Google, Animal Planet, NOAA

We've got quite a bit going on around here this week.  The NOAA research ship "Oscar Elton Sette" showed up on Saturday.  They've been setting up camps to monitor Hawaiian monk seals on most of the islands up the chain.  They stayed around for a day and left for Kure Atoll this morning to bring some seal monitoring people, as well as a couple of other Kure workers.  We still have one person here taking pictures for Google maps.  They'll be uploading pictures and soon you'll be able to get the street views of Midway.  We have a film crew here too.  They are filming a show for Animal Planet, so I'll let you know when that will be coming up.  I took them out on the boat the other day to get them some spinner dolphin footage.  There are chicks of all kinds hatching everywhere, so I'll give you a couple of photos of those.
The "Oscar Elton Sette" is parked next to the cargo pier.  They brought us a bit of extra food in their freezer, and they will be taking away a load of marine debris.  Thanks!

The NOAA group that was here picking up marine debris for the last few weeks loaded all of their nets onto the ship.  They'll be at Kure Atoll picking up nets and things for a few days, then pick up more at the islands and atolls on their way back to Honolulu.
While filming some underwater shots, a Black-footed albatross fledgling started chasing around one of the crew for a few minutes.  

 This White tern chick was keeping low, trying to not get blown off of the log.

 This Sooty tern chick hatched within the last hour.

Here is another Sooty tern chick that just hatched.

The Brown noddy chicks have started hatching this week too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Short-tailed Albatross

We had another big newsworthy event this week.  Our Short-tailed albatross chick fledged.  This was only the second time one has been raised outside of Japan in recorded history, so we're glad that our rare pair of albatrosses were successful at raising another chick.  Here's a link to the news release and a couple of photos and videos that John Klavitter took.

We're just about back to normal after the 70th Battle of Midway Commemoration.  All of our extra visitors and volunteers have gone back home.  Thanks to everyone who came to make it a great event, especially Col. John F. Miniclier and Sgt. Ed Fox. Thanks to Dallas Nagata White for passing along a link to her photos and writeup of her visit that day. It's very good and worth taking the time to see her great photos.

One interesting project going on here right now is a Google project.  They've been taking a lot of photos so soon you'll be able to get a street view on Google maps and be able to see our historic sites. Even Eastern and Spit Islands will be online.  I'll let you know when I hear that the project is done.

Here's one of John Klavitter's photos of the Short-tailed albatross chick on the last day that it was seen on Eastern Island.

 I'm posting a couple more photos from the Battle of Midway Commemoration.  Here is Sgt. Fox getting thanked by some of our Navy visitors.  Note the albatross chick at the bottom of the picture holding a plumeria flower.  I wish I had noticed that when I was taking the photos.

Admiral Cecil Haney visits with Col. Miniclier at the Canon Memorial.  Col. Miniclier is wearing the helmet he wore during the Battle of Midway, which he left with us for our Visitor Center.

Col. Miniclier tells the story of being in the tower as the Japanese planes attacked (see last week's post).

This is a view of Spit Island out toward the old water barge wreck on the horizon.  Since very few people get to visit Spit Island, it will be nice to be able to see it on Google maps.

 Gray-backed Terns like to nest on Spit Island. 

 This is a Red-tailed tropicbird chick.  As I was taking this picture, one of the parents showed up to feed it.

 The chick was really wobbly and could barely keep upright enough to get its food.

 There are still thousands of White terns on eggs.

 The volunteers: Ryan, Jennifer, and Liz are sorting through plastic collected from their marine debris plot on Eastern Island.

This is a Spotted boxfish (female).  I like these little fish.  They can't bend their bodies, so they just move their fins and tail really fast to swim.  The males are very colorful, but they hide more than the females do, and I almost never see them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

70th Battle of Midway Commemoration

As you probably know, on Monday we had our 70th Commemoration of the Battle of Midway, which was June 4-6, 1942.  It was a great day and went really smoothly.  Everybody on the island worked really hard to pull it off.  We had 2 US Navy flights which brought about 150 visitors.  They had a very long day.  They flew in about 3:30 a.m. and left about 9 p.m. We're still having our flights only in the dark, to minimize the chances of hitting any birds.  We had 2 veterans who were actually on Midway during the Battle of Midway, and 2 vets who were here later in the war.  It was amazing to hear their recollections.  Both Battle of Midway vets were 20 year old Privates First Class at the time. 
Here's a quick writeup of one of our guests, Col John F. Miniclier-USMC (retired):

Our other Battle of Midway vet, Sgt Ed Fox-USMC (retired) was stationed in a pillbox on the south beach.  He thinks that the one that you've seen in my earlier posts, is likely the one he was stationed in.  Here's a link to his accounts of joining the marines with a link to the battle story below the text:

Here are more photos that I took of the commemoration:

If you search on Flickr for Battle of Midway 70th, you'll find a lot of photos from other press & photographers that were here.

Here's a good article written up by the Navy reporters that were here with a link to their photos:

The current Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Cecil Haney, spoke at the ceremony.  He and I were both on the same submarine, USS Honolulu (SSN-718) at different times.  I left the sub in 1992 and he didn't become the commanding officer until 1996, but it was great to meet him and talk about the shared experience, although it was separated by a few years. 

 This is Refuge Manager Sue Schulmeister with the four WWII vets.  The next photo is a closeup of the albatross chick biting one of the veterans' shoe. Sgt Fox on the left and Col Miniclier all the way to the right.

Col. Miniclier actually lived in this building for a while. He told his story to the visitors.  This was the power plant/command center that I've showed in earlier blog posts.

 This photo was taken from the building in the previous photo during the battle.  Col. Miniclier is in the tower in the center of this photo.  He says you can see his helmet in the original photo.  He left that helmet on Midway for our newly remodeled museum in the Visitor's Center.

Visitors stopping by the Ave Maria chapel saw a White tern on its egg in one of the little candle holders.

 Other things are still going on here.  NOAA has sent out a crew to remove marine debris from the atoll.  They've been going out in boats and getting nets that were stuck on the reef.  This pile is what they've collected so far.

We took a group of volunteers out snorkeling to thank them for all of the help with the commemoration preparation.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Battle of Midway

We're still getting ready for our 70th Battle of Midway commemoration.  There's been a lot of weeding, trimming, painting, sweeping, etc.  The Battle of Midway was fought from June 4-6, 1942 and we'll be having the ceremony on Jun 4th (tomorrow, as I write this).  We'll be getting 2 planes with visitors for the day.  They have to fly in before sunrise and fly out after sunset to minimize the chance for bird strikes, so it will be a very long day for the visitors.  There has been a veteran visiting us this week who was on Midway from 1941-1943, and it's been great to hear his stories about how things used to be here.  He even remembers the Laysan rail (picture below), which is now extinct.  We have another person coming tomorrow who was also here during the Battle of Midway.  I'll give a few more details next week.

 Jennifer and Christine are cleaning up "gun battery C", which is right behind the cemetery.

Here is the Laysan Rail that used to be on Midway, but became extinct when rats showed up.  The image is from Rothschild (1893-1900).  I got it from the Bishop Museum site.  Wikipedia also has some great info.

 We had a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday.  Most of the island people showed up so it was nice.

Here is a close up of the Memorial Day wreath made by one of our Thai workers named Kittipong.