Saturday, June 20, 2015

A couple links to interesting web pages on Palmyra Atoll

I continue to find interesting web pages about Palmyra Atoll. In addition to a short description of the island and its terrestrial wildlife, this link has some nice photos along with text that describes the history of ownership of Palmyra.

Of particular interest are the photos taken by James Sinnott.  He served as a Radioman First Class on Palmyra from August 1942 until December 1943. I wonder if he is still alive and how many other photos he has of Palmyra? I sure hope someone has archived all of them.

Following the James Sinnott lead I got from the above URL, I found these links:

This appears to be an old, un-maintained set of web pages. Some of the hot links do not work, but I sometimes managed to move around by looking at the URL and editing it using the naming convention used by the author. I was particularly interested in the Palmyra History tab which again provides some great historic photos. It appears the Bishop Museum in Honolulu may have a nice collection of historic photos of Palmyra. If I get some time there on my trip in October, I may see if I can arrange to look at them. Last year I tried to visit the Bishop Museum library, but it was by appointment only. I will plan ahead next time.


Trip to Palmyra delayed

By now I should have arrived on Palmyra Atoll and been busy composing my first blog entry with pictures of another glorious sunset or some beautiful sea creatures. Unfortunately, despite heroic efforts by The Nature Conservancy, they were not able to get a new signed contract with an air charter service to fly us to Palmyra. They scrambled to come up with an alternative means of of transport to this remote location and ended up sending a 65' schooner called the R/V Machias down from Hawaii to Palmyra with the staff that is being swapped out on the island. That one-way trip took 7 days. The schooner is now going to stay on station and be used to ferry people back and forth between Palmyra and Christmas Island which takes about two days each way. Christmas has a landing strip with commercial plane service once a week with Fiji Airlines. Even though this would have meant several more days of travel time to get on and off Palmyra, we would have considered doing it except they couldn't fly us in this week because there was some VIP delegation of government officials visiting Christmas Island. There was "no room at the inn" in addition to security issues that meant the whole trip would be delayed for a week. While Fio and I had a buffer of several days built into our plans, we could not afford to come back over a week later. I was committed to help host the Friends of Hopkins open house/picnic and Fio had a trip planned with several major donors. These were commitments we just couldn't blow off. Tim could still go with the delayed schedule, and we were lining up two alternative divers when logistics got a bit too crazy given the short amount of time we had to accommodate all of the changes. After much agonizing, Fio decided to postpone the trip in the hopes that they would be able to take us later in the season after the plane service direct to Palmyra had been restored.

There are lots of gory details that I will spare you. Instead I will share the good news. The Nature Conservancy is optimistic they will have a new air charter service contract in place by August. They also may be able fit us back into their schedule to do our field work the latter half of October. This is good news for me as it means I am back on the team to go to Palmyra. Fio is not so lucky since those dates won't work for her. So despite my best efforts to NOT be the lead scientist this year, I am back in that role. I really can't complain as it is much better than not being able to go at all. This is all still tentative, but I am optimistic. If the October dates don't work out, then this field season will be scrapped, and the work will have to be done in the summer of 2016.

If we do the trip in October, we will be sharing the island with some donors. This has pluses and minuses. On the down side, I probably won't get cabin #4 all to myself like I have the last two years since it is a prime waterfront cabin. I am sure the waterfront cabins will go to the donors. On the plus side, we will probably get even better food -- not that it was ever bad. I remember one night last year we were served "donor desserts". These were fancy desserts that weren't going to keep until the next donor visit.

This is a lot more text than I like to have in a blog entry, especially without any pictures, so here is a photo I found on the web of the R/V Machias upon which I almost got to sail the South Pacific.

Photo by Jeff Milisen for Kampachi Farms, LLC