Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rain, Wind, and Flies - Go Away!!

As the title says, we're getting really tired of rainy and windy days and millions of flies. We can at least work through rain, although being on the boat in the rain can be miserable and driving fast means the rain feels like needles on your skin. However, wind makes the water choppy with high swells, which makes anchoring the boat, if not driving it, dangerous. Big waves also mean I collide more often with the bottom while trying to work, so I have scratches and bruises everywhere! The rain and wind also are making everyone else on land unhappy and cold. The huge puddles make the roads even more of an obstacle course than the albatross chicks already do!

The Laysan ducks seem to like splashing around in the puddles everywhere, and the adult albatross use the wind to fly, so they appreciate it. The albatross chicks appreciate some rain because then they don't overheat and dehydrate, but they're looking pretty miserable in this much rain. You can really tell in rainy weather which ones are doing well, because they have the energy to preen and groom themselves and keep themselves waterproof. Kate's been so cold out on the water (22-23 deg C = 71-73 deg F :(!!!) that she's rigged up a hot tub at the boathouse!

No one, however, appreciates the millions of flies everywhere. We're having to vacuum our rooms nearly every day so we don't have to step on fly corpses, keep all our windows closed, not stand around talking outside, make sure all food is securely packaged, etc. Everyone says the flies are much worse right now than they should be this time of year. It's only early June - the chicks aren't even out on the beaches yet. July is the height of "fly-or-die" or "dead bird" season around here, although our landscaper Sittisak is already acting as undertaker - he rides around the island on an ATV pulling a cart full of albatross chick carcasses and carrying a pitchfork! Being out on the water is a relief because there are rarely flies that far from land!

Anyway, the weather has been good enough to get lots of work done, even if not warm or calm enough to really enjoy it. We finished our second round of bivalve recruitment checks early last week and have been continuing bivalve distribution surveys. We're finding very few bivalves, but we're seeing many locations I've never seen before. We've now completed 32 surveys, mostly throughout the backreef, patches, and sand of the inside of the atoll. We still need to do nearly all of the forereef and northwestern and deep portions of the stoll, which is where I expect to find the most bivalves. The photo of me above to the left is just after finishing a survey on the southeast backreef, which was mostly sand! Both photos below were taken on the eastern backreef of the atoll. The photo on the left is of a large Porites evermanni bommie - we don't see large bommies like this often, but we've seen several at a few sites now! The photo on the right is of Pocillopora meandrina heads with Hawaiian Dascyllus (Dascyllus albisella) juveniles.

Last week, Midway hosted the board meeting of the Friends of Midway Atoll organization, which runs the souvenir store on the island, finds funding, and lobbies for Midway in Washington, D.C. I really enjoyed hearing of their previous experiences at Midway long before I came to Midway and meeting all of them. Unfortunately, they weren't able to go out snorkeling on the reef, but they did go over to pull Verbesina (an abundant invasive plant) at Eastern Island twice. On their last night, the refuge manager Matt Brown and his wife Merissa hosted a reception for them at Midway House and the Thai band performed at the All Hands Club. They continued the tradition of decorating a ceiling tile for All Hands Club, as in the photo to the right with Hawaii state biologist Dr. Fern Duvall acting as primary artist.

1 comment:

Nellie Northern said...

The ceiling tile art collection is really something.

Don't forget to leave your mark!

Thanks for the update...
Mona & Nelson ( John's folks)