Monday, April 7, 2014

Shipping supplies ahead of time

Last year I was brought on board the project after the barge had made its annual trip to Palmyra, so Doug had already taken care of shipping out most of the materials we would be using.  This year I am involved from the start, so I have been busy working with Doug to make sure we acquire supplies we need so they arrive in Hawaii by April 16th.  They will then go out on a barge scheduled to leave around the 23rd of April and arrive on Palmyra around May 1st.   Shipping things ahead of time is critical since there are severe weight restrictions on what can be taken on the Gulf Stream II flight from Hawaii to Palmyra when I fly out on June 18th.

some of the 65 items being shipped

Except for the 6 foot long tube of PVC pipe, we fit everything into two large ice chests which were then sealed shut with duct tape and are going out via FedEx 2 Day Air today.

ice chest taped up for shipment
this one weighed 52 lbs, the second one weighed 59 lbs

I will rest easier once I know the two ice chests of supplies and the 6 foot long tube arrived safely on Palmyra.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Returning to Palmyra Atoll summer of 2014

I have been invited back to Palmyra Atoll this summer.  This time it will be a slightly shorter trip -- three weeks instead of four.  Last summer I helped install 180 settlement plates.  This summer I will be helping pull those plates to bring them back to the lab where they will be photographed, and the coral polyps will be counted, mapped, and measured before returning them to the reef for another year.

Last year I went with Doug McCauley and Francesco Ferretti.  Doug has been on Palmyra numerous times while working on his Ph.D, and he knew the ropes.  This year I will be accompanied by Paul Leary and Sabina Perkins.  Paul is an experience diver and recently accompanied me on a Channel Islands Research Program cruise, but this will be his first time on Palmyra.  Sabina was on Palmyra for a week in 2011 with Stanford@SEA, but has not been diving there.  A bit scary that I will be the most "experienced" member of the team, and not just the "senior" member of the team.

Things will be a bit different this year.  The two island pets, Dadu and Tigger, both died since I left.  They had been granted permanent residence as part of the purchase agreement when The Nature Conservancy bought the atoll.  Also over the winter two shipwrecks were removed.  The metals they were leaching promoted the growth of an invasive corallimorph species which was smothering the natural reef.  Below is a picture of the pontoon barge, nicknamed “Rust Island” that was grounded near the lagoon entrance channel sometime between 1953 and 1957.  It was believed to be a Defense Department transport barge made out of steel pontoon sections that linked together.

"Rust Island" is now gone

You can read about the wreck removal at:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Photograph from Palmyra to be on exhibit

One of the photographs I took while on Palmyra last summer is going to be on display this summer at Stanford.  The library is doing an exhibit titled "After Hours: Creative Pursuits of Stanford University Libraries Staff" from June 26 through August 27.  The exhibit will be in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda in Green Library's Bing Wing.  The photograph that was accepted by the jury is below.  It is photo of an Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles) taken while snorkeling at Palmyra's Tortagonai back reef.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A better photo of me

Since I was taking most of the photos during the Palmyra trip, there are very few photos of me.  Doug used my camera on the very first day to take the one of me all dirty from salvaging the used mesh in the rain.  After that I didn't get any more of me on my camera.

Since returning I got a chance to look at some of the photos Francesco took with his iPhone.  I like this shot.  I have a big smile on my face because Doug is running the boat fairly fast across the lagoon which means there is a nice breeze in my face.  I told Doug I could do this all day, having him motor us around in the lagoon keeping cool in the hot weather.  I appreciated the wide brim hat when we were doing this because we often had red-footed boobies riding the air currents above our heads and dropping their guano on us.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Some useful links

If you want to learn more about research being done on Palmyra Atoll, I have added some useful links on the right side of this blog.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Re-entering the United States

Palmyra Atoll is a U.S. territory, but it is still considered international travel so you are required to have a passport. On the last day on the island they put out a visa stamp for you to mark your passport. Nowadays I have been to countries where they no longer stamp your passport, so it was nice to get one that not many people in the world have.

Because the plane lands in a small airport, the custom officer actually comes onto the plane to check your credentials. No one can leave the plane until everyone has cleared. Gareth is from Great Britain and Francesco is from Italy, so that took little extra time. Some of the other teams were bringing back specimens which sends up a red flag even though they were all dead -- preserved or dried. They had all the appropriate paperwork for the specimens, so it didn't take too long to get the green light from customs to exit the plane and enter the U.S. We all received leis as we exited the plane, a nice touch.

On Monday I went the Stanford Blood Center to donate. It was my 120th whole blood donation. The person taking my medical history got a kick out of all the places I gave him that I had been to in the last 3 years. Argentina was no problem, but Zanzibar was a challenge. While people have heard of it, they don't know where it is located. Naturally, Palmyra Atoll was not in their database of places with and without malaria, so he had to get his supervisor to see if I could donate. They looked it up in Google.  She said since it was a U.S. territory he didn't even have to list it on the form. That was a bit disaappointing.