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Monday, August 27, 2012

We're back!

Hey everybody!

Long time, no post---sorry about that! At long last we have finally returned to blogging about the goings-on at Tern and French Frigate Shoals. We have a new blog/website, please find us at:

Hopefully Paula's blog will remain available online for some time to come. It remains a great source of information and photos from Tern.

Thanks and see you at the new site!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paula's very last blog post....

Aloha kakou!

I have had so much fun, and learned so much at Tern Island Field Station over the past three years.  I send sincere thanks to all the people who have worked to improve the station, the quality and effectiveness of our work there during this time -- as well as the hundreds of others who have done so in the past.  A particular special thanks to all the volunteers who have donated their time because of their passion for conservation and protecting our wildlife and refuges.

Mahalo nui loa!!!

As a parting message, I attach links to a couple of classic videos during my stay at Tern....

First Five Weeks at Tern (2012, by Abram Fleishman)  (a vimeo link)

Albatross Hammer Time (2011, by Dan Rapp)  (a youtube link)

and finally, a salute to TeamWork:

The Original Team Tern: a Well Oiled Machine

Above and beyond all of our hard work and efforts, thank you to all of the wildlife -- birds, seals, turtles, people, fish, invertebrates, and habitats marine and terrestrial.  Without you, our life would have no joy.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Crew on Tern

Welcome to our new crew on Tern!  The Kahana arrived on Monday with the new summer crew:  Summer Manager Meg Duhr Schultz, and volunteers Catherine Fox, Ryan Potter, and Megan Juran.  The new and old crew will work together over the next 10 days, passing the torch.  The winter crew will be leaving when the Kahana comes through on its return trip to Honolulu, and Meg will be taking over the blog.

Offloading supplies and getting new crew:  Left to right:  Dan Rapp, Ryan Potter, Morgan Gilmour, and Abram Fleishman.  Photo by Sarah Youngren.
Abram Fleishmman and Megan Juran stack milk in the food room.  All food must be labeled with date of arrival and stored in its proper place.  This food will last the crew -- plus folks from NOAA's seal and turtle crews this summer -- until October, when the next crew switch-out occurs.
Biologically, the honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) are starting to show up in slightly higher numbers -- from 0-1 per day on Tern in mid-winter, to more than a dozen per day now.  (It will be more like 100/day on Tern later, and double that on East Island in peak season.)  We're seeing a few turtle 'rafts' or 'dog piles' -- a bunch of males vying for a female turtle's attention. 

Basking honu on Tern Island
'Old style' metal tag, #G692.  We were lucky to happen to see the first female turtle of the season digging high up on the beach, checking out good spots to nest later in the season.  She was last seen nesting in 1996 and 2002. 
 We also saw two red-footed boobies (ʻĀ wāwae) with signficant oiling in the past month.  One had about 15% of its body covered, and another had about 30%.  We've spotted a handful more with small (quarter-sized) spots.  The oil looked to be old, but we collected feather samples, just in case the oil needs to be analyzed. We'll be keeping a sharp eye out for additional oiling, and are starting to photograph the 'small spot' birds in order to assess how many birds have actually been affected.

Sarah Youngren finds a returned invasive -- sandbur -- under the clothesline.  It was probably accidentally reintroduced by people coming back from East Island, where the weed reappeared four years after 'eradication' -- perhaps due to old seed bank being exposed by record-breaking turtle nesting activity last summer.  Bird, seal and turtle crews will have to be particularly careful not to accidentally move these sticky seeds around more; right now we're hoping to keep re-eradicate the weed in the next several years.

The only bummer news for this week is that because Paula (the manager) has to go back to Honolulu to work in the office, and won't be staying or returning this summer, the benthic monitoring project we were planning to start this winter (but hadn't yet because we had no working boats) will not be carried out.  Of course Paula is very sad to miss out on all the summer actvities (particularly the benthic plate project, as well as helping out the turtle and seal crews), but Meg will be carrying the torch high and proud, and all the other activities will carry on under her guidance.

Dakshina Marlier (USFWS), Abram Fleishman (USFWS), and Morgan Gilmour (UCSC and USFWS) will also be sadly returning to Honolulu, but they have great plans after that!  Dakshina will be moving on to a summer biking position in Alaska, and Abram and Morgan have wildlife jobs in California.  Morgan may be entering graduate school, and if she gets the permits, returning to Tern next winter to continue tagging albatross and boobies, and working on her dissertation tagging great frigatebirds!

More good news is that Sarah and Dan will be staying on at Tern to work on Paula's data quality project, funded by the USFWS Inventory and Monitoring Project, so we can get some of the 30 years of bird monitoring data.  They'll also be able to complete their work on acoustics, plastics, burrowing seabird habitat, working alongside Meg, Megan, Catherine and Ryan.  Yeah!!!

Neighbors.  Snorkeling photos by Abram Fleishman.

Ka Hiapo, our eldest mōlī  (Laysan albatross) chick.  Notice his nice new 'wrist-bracelet' -- a flexible poultry band used to identify chicks.  Ka Hiapo, a.k.a. Goliath, is also the heaviest of our chicks, and part of Dan Rapp's study looking at the effects of plastics on chick growth.  Photo by Sarah Youngren.

Dakshina Marlier, enjoying the sunset.  Photo by Abram Fleishman.
Measurements before applying a geolcator tag to a red-footed booby ('a), as part of Scott Shaffer's (UCSC) study.  The tag will provide us with a map of where the booby goes to forage.  From left to right:  Abram Fleishman, Sarah Youngren, Morgan Gilmour.
Manu o Kū (white tern) feeding its chick.  Does anyone know if this is a mahi?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts & Science PCS Experiences Tern Island

On Monday, February 27, 2012 Tern Island came to Mrs. Randi Brennon's grade 7 & 8 science classroom...or at least it felt like that.
Students studied maps of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and learned where Tern Island is located.  They also learned about some of the other NW Hawaiian Islands, and their Hawaiian names.
Students were challenged in an activity with a poster showing the many kinds of plants and animals that live on Tern and in the surrounding ocean.  There was a lively discussion about taking care of this special island, and possible careers students could follow in their future.
Big Island resident, Erin Kawakami, volunteered as a wildlife monitor on Tern Island from June through December 2011; she shared her experiences while living on the small island.
Erin learned to recognize the 4 different stages that Laysan Albatross chicks go through as they grow up: Downy, then Partly, then Mostly and finally Fully Feathered Chick

Erin and Abram are getting ready to walk through the Laysan Albatross colony on Tern Island.  Each chick will have its own number on a yellow band around a leg.  Every week Erin and Abram will find each chick and write down on the data table if each chick is a DFC, PFC, MFC or FFC.  The 2 volunteers will do this job for many weeks, until...the chicks "fledge," or fly away!  
Erin is teaching the HAAS PCS students how to write the chick stages in the data table.
Every student had a photo of a Laysan Albatross chick pinned to his/her back.  Erin is pointing to the yellow tape where the chick's number is written.  Only yellow bands with black numbers are put on albatross that are hatched on Tern Island.

Students moved around the classroom to find every chick, identify its stage, and write the information in their data table.

What stage do you think this Laysan Albatross chick is: DFC, PFC, MFC or FFC?

This student is getting some help from an albatross hoaloha (friend).
Looks like the Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts & Science PCS has a healthy colony of Laysan Albatross!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#4 - Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program at French Frigate Shoals

Get ready for a sad picture, from the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program's Facebook Page --

The tale of French Frigate Shoals continues. In 1984, in response to decreasing condition of young seals, small numbers of weaned, female pups were captured at FFS and transported to Oʻahu for captive care to increase their size and improve their condition and likelihood of survival. They were then reintroduced into the wild at Kure Atoll (in the NWHI). This photo shows an example of a young seal who is struggling to get enough food.

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