Best of Team Tern (Summer 2012 Edition)

Hi everybody!

Sorry for our radio silence. Lots and lots of changes have taken place in the last month and I’ve been busy trying to catch up and keep my head above water back here in Honolulu. The good news is that I am back in the land of more bandwidth and soon I’ll start uploading all kinds of amazing photos and videos my crew and I shot over the summer. We are looking forward to sharing the wonderful wildife of French Frigate Shoals with you all.

Here’s what’s happened since we last posted. Our new volunteers and new Winter Manager, Chad Bell, arrived last month to hold down the fort and continue monitoring, maintenance, and habitat work through the winter. Chad only had ten days of overlap with me, so it was a pretty busy time for us! Despite what people say, Tern’s not a “field camp” and handing off all the facilities operations and maintenance duties is not really a ten day process. But out here, we just make do with what we have and I know that Chad and his crew will do great. You’ll hear much more about him and the new crew in the coming days!

As for Ryan, Meg, Catherine, and Megan, we boarded the Kahana a few weeks ago, got back to Honolulu, and presented our work to the Honolulu FWS office staff, as well as our friends from the NMFS seal and turtle projects. Once the trash, recycling, scrap metal, and old batteries were all take care of, I cut my people loose! These folks committed the past 8 months of their lives to volunteering for the Fish and Wildlife Service and I wanted to get them back with their friends and loved ones as soon as possible.

Where are they now? Meg: cubicle in the Honolulu Federal Building, Megan: Tahiti (!!!), Ryan: back with family in California, Cat: exploring the Big Island with her mom.

Of course, all three of these truly outstanding volunteers will be missed dearly. I created this album as a tribute to the crew and our season and want to take this opportunity to thank them for their amazing dedication to the work that the Fish and Wildlife Service does out at Tern Island, French Frigate Shoals. Seabird monitoring isn’t just hugging fluffy birds–these guys spent hours upon hours out in the colonies this season collecting data that is critical to mananging and understanding these populations. They endured hot sun, biting insects, and sooty terns in the field, and then hours of data and spreadsheet wrangling afterwards. They also cheerfully dove right into hand-pulling invasive plants by the boatload (literally) and their duties as maintenance helpers. Even though everybody comes to Tern for the biology, the reality is that you can’t have the science out there without the maintenance. I could always count on this crew for a helping hand in whatever task or challenge we faced.

The Service maintains a permanent presence on Tern for many reasons: to prevent and respond to wildlife entrapments in the WWII-era military infrastructure, to support and continue the longest dataset of tropical seabird monitoring in the world, to prevent trespassers, poachers, and introductions of invasive mammals and plants, and to protect and enhance habitat for a suite of species, many of which occur nowhere else in the world. Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a tiny, tiny refuge within a tiny, tiny bureau of one of the smaller departments of the Federal Government. We absolutely could not do this without our volunteers.

Enjoy these photos of the summer crew in action. Just click on any photo and you can move through an entire slideshow of our highlights from the season. And thanks again, volunteers. Ya’ll are amazing.

3 responses to “Best of Team Tern (Summer 2012 Edition)

  1. I’m only part way through the slide show, and enjoying every minute! This gives me a great feeling of being on Tern Island with you all! I’m gonna make a FB post.

  2. I live in Princeville, Kauai, where albatrosses have been nesting since 1990. I observe them and collect data almost every day they are here, from November into July or August. In 2010, I saw a bird with a green
    band, H162. I found out from Maura Naughton that this bird was
    banded on 6/13/02 on Tern Island. He or she is now nesting in the middle of a golf course here. You can see a photo of the bird at my blog,www.albatrossdiary.com, the December 1 entry.

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