Mission Blog: October 8, 2009
Another Example of Natural Innocence
By Matt Ramsey, Researcher
Marine debris litters the shoreline. (Photo: Matt Ramsey)
Today the TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) team had the rare opportunity to rest our sea legs and go ashore on Green Island in Kure Atoll. The day was spent assisting staff and volunteers from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife finish their preparations for leaving the island. We started off the day tasked with moving a small vessel onto shore where it would be stored for the winter months while the island remains uninhabited by humans. The task would have been extremely challenging if the four islanders had to move the vessel on their own however necessity was indeed the father of creativity. The 9 of us quickly became like the pyramid builders of ancient Egypt. We'd lift the vessel, insert rubber bumpers under the boat, and roll the boat forward and repeat. Lift, roll, shuffle. Lift, roll, shuffle. In no time at all, the vessel was high up-shore on dry vegetated land, safe from any large winter waves.
The TEK team helps with native plant outplanting. (Photo: Matt Ramsey)
Our next task was to participate in an island wide survey of birds and seals. We started our walk around the island and immediately had to weave up into the vegetation to avoid disturbing a grumpy, molting monk seal. We continued to walk along the beach passing multiple monk seals and birds as well as small mounds of marine debris. Thick ropes, plastic boxes, nets. Giant light bulbs, floaters, glass bottles. A tennis shoe, a baseball bat, a hardhat. We were several weeks sail from any major land mass yet civilization left its mark even on this tiny stretch of paradise.
We took a short break under the lone iron wood tree on the island and out-planted more papolo as well as naupaka. With a splash of freshwater, we wished the plants well. This would be the last time the plants would be watered by human hands until the staff returns to the island in 5 months after the stormy winter months has passed.
Curious seabirds swooped down low to inspect the new visitors to Kure. (Photo: Matt Ramsey)
As we began walking along the sandy shoreline again, we noticed a dark cloud moving along the shoreline in the shallow water. We watched as the cloud of juvenile mullet made their way slowly along the coastline. A little ways down the beach, a school of manini was also nearshore however they were swimming for lives as a large papio darted in and out of the school undoubtedly having manini for lunch.
We continued along the coastline noting multiple monk seals of different age, sex, and size as well as schools of moi, mullet, and weke in the water. Our glances turned upwards as squacks filled the air. Notty's, boobys, turns, and tropic birds soared overhead and swooped at the new visitors to the island; just another example of the natural innocence that is protected within Papahanaumokuakea.