Marine Conservation Biology in Hawaii

First full day on Midway Atoll: a slide show
by -- January 22nd, 2012

A slideshow of photos taken of our first day on Midway Atoll, Sand Island.

Marine trash, or debris, is a huge problem on Midway. Due to its unlucky location, much of the trash caught in the North Pacific Gyre is brought here. People have come up with some very creative ideas with what to do with the plastic. This is one of my favorites.

Marine trash, or debris, is a huge problem on Midway. Due to its unlucky location, much of the trash caught in the North Pacific Gyre is brought here. People have come up with some very creative ideas with what to do with the plastic. This is one of my favorites.

Close up of the gorgeous head of a Laysan Albatross.

Close up of the gorgeous head of a Laysan Albatross.

Unfortunately not all eggs make it. Those that are left are often broken and eaten by Common Myna birds here.

Unfortunately not all eggs make it. Those that are left are often broken and eaten by Common Myna birds here.

An old bowling alley (which occasionally still runs) with many albatross in the background, along with some more war-time related artifacts of Midway.

An old bowling alley (which occasionally still runs) with many albatross in the background, along with some more war-time related artifacts of Midway.

A big yawn from a Laysan Albatross on its nest. Nap time!

A big yawn from a Laysan Albatross on its nest. Nap time!

An inquisitive fairy tern comes to say hello (also called common white terns).

An inquisitive fairy tern comes to say hello (also called common white terns).

Laysan Albatross build up their nest cups using whatever material is within beak's reach. This fellow here has grabbed some sandy soil and is tamping it down. When it's raining it's the best time to build up a nest cup with sand!

Laysan Albatross build up their nest cups using whatever material is within beak's reach. This fellow here has grabbed some sandy soil and is tamping it down. When it's raining it's the best time to build up a nest cup with sand!

A somewhat common sight here on island: an abandoned nest cup and egg, surrounded by plastic bits. In this case, a lighter.

A somewhat common sight here on island: an abandoned nest cup and egg, surrounded by plastic bits. In this case, a lighter.

Here is bunch grass, a native grass that provides ideal land cover in this sandy soil. This replaces the evil and invasive verbicina (a woody shrub with yellow flowers) which dominates the landscape in some places here. All Duke classes that have visited Midway have contributed to restoring albatross habitat, to the effect that the Fish and Wildlife Service has renamed certain areas

Here is bunch grass, a native grass that provides ideal land cover in this sandy soil. This replaces the evil and invasive verbicina (a woody shrub with yellow flowers) which dominates the landscape in some places here. All Duke classes that have visited Midway have contributed to restoring albatross habitat, to the effect that the Fish and Wildlife Service has renamed certain areas "Duke Gardens West."

A close up of the webbed feet of a Laysan Albatross. They too have toenails!

A close up of the webbed feet of a Laysan Albatross. They too have toenails!

This pair seemed in good spirits, except one of them kept yawning. Big gapes!

This pair seemed in good spirits, except one of them kept yawning. Big gapes!

A fairy tern from below. These guys like to nest in the invasive iron wood trees.

A fairy tern from below. These guys like to nest in the invasive iron wood trees.

Greg from the Fish and Wildlife Service teaching us how to plant bunch grass for our restoration project.

Greg from the Fish and Wildlife Service teaching us how to plant bunch grass for our restoration project.

Our human impact is visible even on far away remote atolls like Midway - just a walk on the beach shows colorful bits of plastic.

Our human impact is visible even on far away remote atolls like Midway - just a walk on the beach shows colorful bits of plastic.

Here is a Black-Footed Albatross in flight - they are on a whole more aggressive than Laysan Albatross, but personally I like their colors better: white on a dusky brown/black!

Here is a Black-Footed Albatross in flight - they are on a whole more aggressive than Laysan Albatross, but personally I like their colors better: white on a dusky brown/black!

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Here a spinner dolphin is starting to release air from its blowhole before it has reached the surface, making a stream of bubbles.

Here a spinner dolphin is starting to release air from its blowhole before it has reached the surface, making a stream of bubbles.

Here are two Laysan Albatross and a Black-Footed Albatross. The Black-Footed was getting too close to the nesting Laysan, so there was a bit of a disagreement, after which the Black-Footed slunk off.

Here are two Laysan Albatross and a Black-Footed Albatross. The Black-Footed was getting too close to the nesting Laysan, so there was a bit of a disagreement, after which the Black-Footed slunk off.

The main form of transportation on the island is by cruiser bicycle. Here is the CEM class riding away from Turtle Beach to head back to Charlie Barracks.

The main form of transportation on the island is by cruiser bicycle. Here is the CEM class riding away from Turtle Beach to head back to Charlie Barracks.

While it might seem like a lot of nesting and dancing, there are occasionally some fights amongst the Laysan Albatross. Here one fellow has the other by the beak, with the tip of its sharp beak dangerously close to the others eye!

While it might seem like a lot of nesting and dancing, there are occasionally some fights amongst the Laysan Albatross. Here one fellow has the other by the beak, with the tip of its sharp beak dangerously close to the others eye!

Our first day we went on a historical tour, toured the Native Plant garden and greenhouse, and went snorkeling (see Kristina’s post for more). Here are a few photos of some of the animals we saw, and activities we participated in.

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