Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Team is assembled, but date of departure is still tentative

The Nature Conservancy is having trouble lining up the charter flights from Honolulu to Palmyra this summer.  I am tentatively scheduled to fly to Palmyra on June 19th and return on July 6th.  Because the charter flight date is not confirmed, I have yet to book my flight from California to Hawaii.

This will be my third summer on Palmyra, and each year I have had a different group on "my" team.  I put "my" in quotes because the first summer Doug McCauley was the team leader and I was along for the ride.  I served as team leader last year, but this summer Professor Fiorenza Micheli will be going, and I am happy to defer to her as team leader and return to a supporting role.  The third member of our team is Tim White, a Hopkins Marine Station graduate student who just completed his first year taking classes up on Stanford's main campus.

Fio visited Palmyra for about a week when the Stanford@SEA ship visited the atoll a number of years ago, but she hasn't lived and worked at the lab on the island.  Tim has worked on Palmyra before and knows the ropes.  Working out of the lab on Palmyra will be considered luxurious living for Tim compared to the 3 months he spend living on the island of Teraina also known as Washington Island.  Like Palmyra, this 3.69 sq mi island is one of the Northern Line Islands, but instead of being a U.S. territory it is part of the Kiribati nation.

You can read a little bit about the research Tim did during his three months on Teraina by going to:

I heard Tim give a talk about his work on Teraina and was impressed with his ability to adapt and "go native" after being dropped off by a cargo ship.  He was totally cut off from the outside world until the cargo ship returned 3 months later.  He had to build his own shelter (with the help of the natives) and learn the local language as there were only a couple of residents who knew any English.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Returning to Palmyra for the final year of the project

It looks like I will be returning to Palmyra again this summer to complete the third and final year of field work on this project. This year Professor Fio Micheli is hoping to join me after she had to back out of the trip last year. Tim White will also be joining us. Tim is a new graduate student, and has been to Palmyra Atoll before while working with Doug McCauley on the shark tagging project.

Speaking of Doug, he just receive the prestigious Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship.  You can read about it at:

So there may be a random post or two on this blog between now and when I leave for Palmyra, but once I am on the Atoll, I will try to keep up with pattern I set the last two summers with almost daily blog entries.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Something to read while my Palmyra blog is in hiatus

Hopefully I will be blogging again next summer if I return to Palmyra to help complete the three year project. That decision will probably be made in early 2015. In the meantime, I was fortunate to be able to spend time in New Zealand and New Caledonia this month. The impetus behind the trip was to attend the IAMSLIC conference in Noumea, and I was able to stop off in Auckland on my way to the conference and drive around much of the north island of New Zealand. I created a separate blog for this trip, so if you are interested, the link is:

I managed to get in one short snorkel in New Zealand and an entire morning of snorkeling in New Caledonia. I have posted underwater photos from both, but the rest of the pictures are terrestrial.

Monday, August 18, 2014

National Geographic article on the Southern Line Islands

The September 2014 issue of National Geographic has a short article with some beautiful photographs from the Southern Line Islands. The article was written by Kennedy Warne, and the photographs were taken by Brian Skerry. I particularly love the aerial photo of Caroline Island, also known as Millennium. The article was prompted by the Kiribati government declaring in June of this year a 12 nautical mile fishing exclusion zone around all five of the remote isles.

Below is a link to the article online.

Be sure to click on the links on the left side to see the still photos and a short video clip. 

Here is a aerial photo of Caroline/Millennium Island taken by NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Palmyra is part of the Northern Line Islands.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Palmyra photo on exhibit

As I mentioned earlier, one of the photos I took last summer was selected for the "After Hours" exhibit currently in Green Library's rotunda area. The reception was held in June while I was back on Palmyra Atoll, so I had to miss it.

invitation to opening of exhibit

I finally made it up to main campus last week and had a chance to look at my photograph on display.

exhibit case with my photo

photo with accompanying text

accompanying text for my photo

The lighting for the exhibit is dim and I didn't have my good camera with me, so the colors are not great. Here is what the photo looks like.

Achilles Tang
Acanthurus achilles

Note that the exhibit ends on August 27th.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Some GoPro video clips

Now that I am back on the mainland, I have enough bandwidth to post a couple GoPro videos.  It was not something I wanted to attempt while on Palmyra using the satellite link.

This first one Paul took of himself.  As you will see Paul can be a ham.


Here is one of the transparent juvenile flat fish that Sabina spotted and Paul filmed.


When we spotted a pod of melon headed whales, Paul and Sabina jumped in the water to swim with them. Before I could join them they were back on the boat after encountering several gray reef sharks that got a little too interested. Paul is filming and Sabina has the yellow fins. You start with the melon headed whales, and then you see the sharks before Paul and Sabina return to the boat.


The transparent juvenile flat fish, the melon headed whales, and the gray reef sharks are not too easy to spot in the reduced size videos posted here. If you happen to see me with my laptop and want to see a "big screen" version, please ask and I would be happy to show them to you.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A couple of photos of me that I recently received

Last summer I only had a couple of photos taken of me as I was taking most of the pictures. Fortunately this year I wasn't the only one snapping pictures. Here are a couple photos taken by Palmyra's amazing chef, Katie Stadler.

After learning how to open coconuts from boat captain Joel Leavitt, Paul, Sabina, and I are enjoying the fruits of our labors.

Katie snapped this photo of me next to one of the bikes used to get around the station. Last year I never used a bike and always walked, but with my sore and swollen right ankle, I found it less painful to bike than to walk. Note my borrowed Crocs and the bike are color coordinated.