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.