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Friday, March 11, 2011

The night of the tsunami, and the morning after.

As I mentioned last night and this morning, we were very fortunate to have had no real effects from the tsunami on Tern.  We have a nice big atoll around us, which serves a a wonderful buffer, for which we are very grateful.  Kure, Midway and Laysan were not so fortunate -- the wildlife were really hammered there.... All the people are safe, though, so that's great!!!

So a couple shots to share the Tern tsunami experience...

We heard that Laysan experienced large waves, so evacuated to the top of the warehouse, a strong weather-proof structure which puts us up out of harms way.  We only had two cushions, though, so all six of us were pretty cozy... Note that we have emergency radios, immersion suits, first aid, EPIRB, etc, all handy.... The team handled the stress of a potential emergency so well.  Either that, or they were actually asleep at the time.  :-)

The crew wakes up after a not-so-comfy night on the roof.  From top left:  FWS Volunteers James Macaulay, Kristina Dickson, Melinda Conners, Sarah Youngren, and Dan Rapp (laying down on the job).  

The crew packs up in the morning, to have bacon and pancakes for breakfast before starting back to work...and another beautiful day.

Our animal friends and their homes are also okay.  ʻĀ wāwae (red-footed boobies), mōlī (Laysan albatross) and kaʻupu (black-footed albatross) chicks in the foreground.  Yeah!

ʻEwaʻewa (sooty terns) and one koaʻe ula (red-tailed tropicbird) fly overhead today.  There's roughly 4,000 ʻewaʻewa flying over the island now -- These birds are so amazing.  They just fly and fly, and donʻt land at all, until it's time for them to lay an egg sometime in the next couple weeks. 
Life goes on in Kanemilohaʻi....

p.s.  We'll try to get a pākalakala video soon!


  1. amazing pictures; makes me feel as if I'm there!

  2. Just wondering how technicians and wildlife fared from the latest Tsunami, just what I expected. sad.

  3. I am so glad the impact there was minor. We worked there some years ago after one major hit initiated toward Alaska with coral blocks all over runway and birds displaced. and cleaned up by refuge manager and wife before our arrival. Glad I found this site.

    A paradise I hated to leave. Just found an aerial image of my first recollection as we approached in a twin from Honolulu.

    john s. flannery

  4. So thankful everyone is ok and that there wasn't widespread impact to the birds. I worked on Tern over the winter of '99-'00 and was defintely worried about how the tsunami would affect the island. So glad to hear that everyone is ok. It is definitely hard to hear about the impacts to Midway and Laysan. Please pass on thoughts to the workers on those islands.

    Lisa DeMatteo Fields

  5. I noticed in your photos on the roof your folks were all bundled up like it was sub-zero out there. Then I reminded myself that it will get chilly out there in the tropics. Thanks again for the posts and the photos.

  6. Was a volunteer at Tern from Apr to July 1995 when there were no connections to the outside world except occasional radio communication with Honolulu. Your blog is a welcome way to keep track of the goings on at Tern-great job! Was worried sick about the effects of the tsunami on Tern and am relieved everyone - human and animal - is safe. Your photos have inspired me to go dig up my old slides - there must be at least 500 of them! I will never forget my experience at Tern Island. In my mind I still hear the surf and the nasal whines of the juvenile albatrosses as they danced the night away...

    Susan Tobias

  7. The picture of the crew sleeping on the roof reminded me of my experience there. In December 1969 I was the CO of the CG Loran Station. We were awash for about 12 hours not from a tsunami but from storm driven winds and a high tide. Our crew of 20 spent the night on the roof - it was cold and windy but dry.

    Hank Kofron


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