Kazu Kauinana, May 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 18, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  27, 02.0 N
Longitude: 173, 54.3 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  160
Wind speed:  16 Kts
Sea wave heights: 3-4
Sea swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 23.1
Sea level pressure: 1019
Cloud cover: 8/8 cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we are off loading three scientists and their gear onto Southeast Island in Pearl and Hermes Atoll.  “The atoll derives its name from those of two English whaling vessels, the ‘Pearl’ and the ‘Hermes,’ which ran aground at nearly the same time on the then unknown reef during the night of 25 April 1822. No lives were lost and provisions and timber were salvaged and used to sustain the crews for two months during which they built a schooner from the salvaged timbers.  Shortly before the crews were ready to launch their new schooner, named the ‘Deliverance,’ another ship—the ‘Thames’—was saved from disaster on the reef.  Captain Phillips of the ‘Hermes’ was able to warn her  captain in time.  While most of the two crews were safely taken off the reef by the ‘Thames,’ 12 elected to sail the ‘Deliverance’ into Honolulu” (Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society Library, Missionary Letters; Bryan, 1942: 197).

All of these atolls are filled with a history of shipwrecks and survivors who salvaged their food supplies, water, tools, and building materials from their grounded ships; lived on these tiny uninhabited islands for as long as six months; and built a boat and sailed back to the high islands. I just spent two days helping unload provisions for seven people to last six months on the island of Kure.  If you’ve never really looked at a map and seen just how isolated these atolls are, do it, and you may be surprised.

And just what were all these sailors doing up around these parts?  Well here’s a good example:

“During the off season of sea otter hunting, the Japanese schooner ‘Ada’ was chartered by an American, George Mansfield, and his friends.  They sailed from Yokohama, Japan, on 10 December 1881, bound first for the Bonin Islands and thence to the Northwestern Hawaiians hoping for a cargo of fish, shark, turtle and beche-de-mer.  On 19 January 1882 the ‘Ada’, commanded by Harry Hardy, anchored off Pearl and Hermes Reef and in the next two days her crew of 17 killed 28 turtles and collected 54 beche-de-mer and 43 pounds of albatross down.  The down was obtained by killing the chicks, dipping them in boiling water, and then stripping off the feathers; petrels, boobies, and frigates were treated in like fashion. The ‘Ada’ visited the remaining islands down to French Frigate Shoals and stopped a second time at Midway in May 1882 to reprovision before returning to Japan” (Hornell, 1934: 426-432).

Yes, I eat fish and chicken, and I even owned a down jacket when I lived in New York City.  I guess I’ve got to be more careful about where these products are coming from and not support the depletion of an entire species.  Ironically, the species that may be on its way to extinction is us. We really should be paying close attention to what scientists are telling us about what is happening to the planet and all the life that lives on it. We have really made a mess of things, but with education and awareness, there still might be hope for our grandchildren, our children, and, believe it or not, us. We are already being affected by our destructive actions. There is a great article in the April 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine about “global warming,” and evidence that the earth is now at the TIPPING POINT! READ IT!! Am I making you worried? Good. The article is called “Be Worried.  Be Very Worried.”

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