Yesterday we were moored just south of Rawaki, aka the namesake Phoenix Island, having arrived early morning. The morning dive was a truly sweet and interesting affair. Before breakfast, a landing party made way for the island to check out the birds, me on it.
“Landing” is a euphemism for packing everything in watertight containers, jumping off the skiff with mask, fins and snorkel, then dragging all your stuff backwards up into the surf and (hopefully) out of the water onto the island. I felt fully prepared with my special wetpack backpack purchased by John Tschirky for MMAS in a moment of inspiration.
Once I’d changed into my jungle gear (oddly appropriate on this sun-scorched rubble pile) I stumbled about, trying hard not to fall in petrel burrows. It was a magical hour. I’d always wanted to see grey noddy terns close up. How about hovering two feet in front of your face? Bridled tern were everywhere. Brown noddies held siege to the upper edges of a broad bowl that sloped down into the island’s central guano lake. In what passed for trees (a small bushy mallow about 35 cm high), black noddy…or what I thought were black noddy…I am still a bit puzzled by them since they weren’t in trees. Read more >>
Les Kaufman is the Senior Investigator for Marine Management Area Science at Conservation International