Day Thirteen (Jan. 30) – Farewell Midway

Our last day on the island was one of reflection on the environmental issues that plague this atoll, and of farewells to the people, place, and most of all, our little Laysan friends.

Laysan Albatross tucked in from the wind and napping on this windy day
Laysan Albatross tucked in from the wind and napping on this windy day

We awoke to the now familiar cries, honks, chatters, and quacks of the Laysan ducks outside our windows. The sky was blessedly clear after the drenching rain the day before. However, the wind was fierce, preventing a last snorkel excursion.

Amy, Brianne, and Heather decided to bike around the island and visit some of the damage caused by the storm a week or so ago. A trip to the cargo pier followed to look for turtles, fish, and monk seals. Snorkeling would have been too difficult in the blustering winds. The only other logical recourse was to travel to the small orchard on the island that boasts clementines, oranges, and lemons. After a sweet treat, a rest among the birds was in order.

Many of us seized this time to just sit with the birds and soak in the warm sun. The Laysan albatrosses are so calm that they quickly adapt to your presence and go about their normal business, creating a sense of companionship and belonging.

Vernon the baby Laysan Albatross cuddling under its parent
Vernon the baby Laysan Albatross cuddling under its parent

We also watched the live camera feed from the short-tailed albatross, or affectionately known as the “shorty”, on Eastern island. The momma (or daddy) stood up, revealing the little fluff ball that is the chick.

We all finished last minute recording for our videos that will capture some aspect of Midway, and which we will present in a week or so to our class.

For most of us, our experiences here reaffirmed what we knew about marine debris and its harmful effects. I know I will be even more conscientious about purchasing items that are individually wrapped or use excessive wrapping. An eye-opener for me was being exposed to the management nightmare of prioritizing problems and accepting the tradeoffs of those decisions. Many people may find fault with your choices, and you will have to back up your decisions coherently and effectively.

A sincere thanks to everyone who made our stay on the island wonderful – John Klavitter, Darlene, Greg, Pete, the Thai community here, and Andy and Dave for making this trip even a possibility (Go Duke)!

And lastly, so we can all remember with fondness our extraordinary experience on this island, I have created:

You Know You’re on Midway When…

1. Birds have the right of way

2. Being dived-bombed by petrels is a real threat at night (As Heather can attest to)

3. It is normal for 2nds, 3rds, and even 4ths at breakfasts, lunch, and dinner (hey, we’re really active here!)

4. It is considered lucky to be pooped on by a bird (the award goes to Isabel as the first person to be blessed with this gift from Nature)

5. Bunch grass is really exciting, and becomes know as “bunching” when you plant it

6. You consider Verbisina evil….or just plain obnoxious

7. You start talking to the birds, and intermittently hear shouts of , “Show me your chickie!”

8. Clairol is used for monk seals, not people

9. A 22-gauge rifle with scope and silencer is necessary to shoot the invasive egret

10. Thai bands never sounded so good

11. And last, but not least, a fear of 5 inch centipedes in your bed haunts you (thank you Dave Johnston)