Friday, July 08, 2011

Sharks, Feathers, Batfish and Jack

Not too much exciting happening lately.  The weather’s been better the last few days, so we’ve gotten a lot of bivalve surveys done.  One survey was a little stimulating because two gray reef sharks hung around watching us.  They were pretty small, but it’s a bit unnerving to be concentrating on searching for tiny things on the bottom when you know sharks are swimming around you!  I also posted several photos of Anne and I doing the surveys and a few of the other interesting things we’ve seen (octopus, nudibranches, dolphins, etc.).

Five visitors to Midway in the last week have been collecting breast feathers from dead albatross chicks in order to restore and create native Hawaiian kahilis (royal Hawaiian staffs that are covered in feathers).  Their knowledge of Hawaiian culture and contemporary politics was fascinating.  They performed an oli (chant) that one of them had written in honor of Midway and created a small kahili to show us why they were collecting these feathers. 

One of them was a photographer and videographer (actually law student) to whom I gave a tour of the island and took snorkeling at the Cargo Pier.  I was very excited to find there a species that has only been reported a few times in Hawaii (only under this Cargo Pier in 1980 and 2009) – Boer’s Spadefish (Platax boersii), which I know from Australia as "batfish".  We also saw one shark and lots of jacks.  This was the first time I’ve snorkeled there this year, and it’s always very different from the reef because it’s dark, deep, and murky – always a bit scary!

My SCWIBLES teacher partner, Jack Horner, who teaches biology and integrated science at Watsonville High School, arrived last night, so we spent the day getting him oriented and touring Sand Island.  We saw many of the historical landmarks that I rarely have reason to see (Pillbox, Cemetery, Power Plant, Sea Plane Warehouse, Cable Houses, etc.), as well as lots of chicks of various species and native and invasive plants.  His [one-sided] conversations with the albatross chicks are very entertaining – urging them to fly, move out of the way, or move into the shade!

Also, a sailboat with a couple heading for British Columbia arrived today.  They were struck by lightning yesterday and came here to do some repairs.  Also, a plane is coming in late tonight for fuel on the way from Maui to Japan. 

Hmm . . . maybe there actually has been lots of excitement lately!

2 comments: said...

Thanks for posting info about your research, but also about the goings-on at Midway. Makes me feel connected!

Admin said...

Glad to help! Thanks for your comments, Barbara - it's always good to know someone is reading!