by Patricia Elena Villegas -- January 26th, 2012
Spray before Waffle, Marine Debris, Short-tailed Albatross, and Tetanus Shots
Another excellent and gorgeous day on Midway and I’ve been assigned the task of writing today’s blog. I’m saving my top-notch literary skills for the grand finale but here’s a snapshot of what happened on day nine.
We spent the morning setting fire to waffles in the cafeteria followed by arts and crafts — typical grad school activities. After breakfast we dispersed to collect debris for our morning art project. We collected mostly small broken-up plastic and made incredible pieces of art with our bare hands. To collect debris, we had to tiptoe around the fragile burrows of hundreds of Bonin petrels. Every once in a while, one of us would disappear up to our hips, and have to be dragged out by a buddy. No Bonin petrels were harmed in the making of our art or this blog.
A lot of blood was shed in the name of arts and crafts today. While picking up marine debris, I got in a fight with some fishing gear and suffered a wound resulting in my first visit — and hopefully last — to the island infirmary for a tetanus shot.
After lunch we headed out to Eastern Island where we were able to see the imperiled and ridiculously rare short-tailed albatross. This was most definitely the highlight of the trip to Eastern Island. About a week ago, the short-tailed pair hatched the second ever chick outside of Japan. The global population of short-tailed albatross is only a few thousand breeding pairs (all on a single island off Japan) so it’s very exciting to see these birds in the opening stages of what could be an expansion of their range.
After Eastern Island, several of us went swimming at North Beach and others went snorkeling at the Cargo Pier. The visibility was great and we swam alongside green sea turtles, jacks, Moorish idols, trumpet fish, puffer fish, and a giant trevally. No sharks today. Stay tuned.