Kazu Kauinana, May 21, 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 21, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  22, 34 N
Longitude: 163, 10.46 W
Visibility:  10NM
Wind direction:  070
Wind speed:  25Kts
Sea wave heights: 4-5
Sea swell heights: 7-10
Seawater temperature: 24.7 C
Sea level pressure: 1019.5
Cloud cover: 3/8 Atocumulus, cumulus

Personal Log 

As you could tell by the wave and swell heights, it has been ROUGH! The boat has been rocking like crazy. Things have been falling off of shelves, and if I didn’t have my sea legs, I would be spending most of my time in bed.  In fact, it is even difficult to do that. Anyway, you want to hear something funny? You know the sculpture I’ve been talking about?  Well I finished it today, but just as I was going to put it away because I had considered it PAU, the stool I was sitting on tipped over because of the rocking boat.  I turned around to pick up the stool and the sculpture slid off the table onto the floor and smashed the face like a pancake.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I went outside jumped over the rails and tried to drown myself.  No, I’m only kidding, I’m an adult.  I went to the mess hall, got something to eat, and then watched a movie.

Kazu Kauinana, May 20, 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 20, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  24, 12.5 N
Longitude: 166, 50.6 W
Visibility:  10 Nm
Wind direction:  95
Wind speed:  25 Kts
Sea wave height: 3-4
Sea swell height:  5-7
Seawater temperature: 25.0
Sea level pressure: 1022.2
Cloud cover: 1/8 cumulus, cirrus

Science and Technology Log 

This morning I spoke with the Lead Electrical Technician John Skinner.  He has been following the progress of the bust I am creating of Lead scientist, Chad Yoshinaga.  He told me that he liked the sculpture and that it has been great having an art teacher at sea this time around.  Apparently I am the first, and the perspective I have given has been interesting and different from the science teachers.

He is also the computer guy for the ship and he spends his spare time taking digital photos and putting together slide shows.  Anyway, he asked me if I would like to see it, and of course I said yes. It was awesome!  It was pictures that he and others had taken on many of the various trips out to the Hawaiian Archipelago.  It includes pictures of the voyage I am on, only much better.  He gave me a copy and I can’t wait to show you guys this DVD. It will blow you away! He also told me about a book called Archipelago that has fantastic photos of these atolls.

The rest of the day I worked on my sculpture and watched the fishermen.  They caught Bull Dorado (mahi-mahi), Ahi and Uku.  BeegBahgahs!!!

Kazu Kauinana, May 19, 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 19, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  25, 55.0 N
Longitude: 170, 58.5 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  115
Wind Speed:  115Kts
Sea wave heights: 3-5
Sea swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.6 C
Sea level pressure: 1019.4
Cloud cover: 2/8 cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we had a fire drill, followed by an abandon ship drill.  Both were executed well.

All of our island adventures are over and we are on our way back home.  We should arrive either Monday night or Tuesday morning.

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.”

Kazu Kauinana, May 16, 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 16, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  28, 23.9 N
Longitude: 178, 25.0 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Sea wave heights: 2-3
Sea swell heights: 3-4
Seawater temperature: 24.0 C
Sea level Pressure:  1/8 Cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we began to off load gear and seven personnel onto Green Island, the main island of Kure Atoll, as well as the farthest west and last island in the Hawaiian chain.  This island did not experience any bird poaching or guano mining, but in 1960 it became a United States Coast Guard LORAN (long-range navigation) station.  The major features of the station were a barracks, a signal/power building, a transmitter building, a pump house, seven fuel tanks, a 4,000-foot-long runway and a 625-foot-high LORAN tower.  The only features remaining are parts of the barracks and the runway, which is unused and disintegrating. There is also a small pier that is being used by the researchers.  It is now a wildlife refuge under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Fish and Game Department.

The island is heavily vegetated with not only shrubs, grasses, and crawling vines, but also several kinds of trees. Verbesina is now growing out of control and a landscaper is a part of this crew to eradicate this invasive species.  It grows so thick that it does not allow ground nesting birds like the Blue Faced Booby to utilize them.  It also poisons the ground so that other plants cannot grow where they have established themselves.

I should mention that this is not a quarantine island like Laysan, Lisianski, and Pearl/Hermes.  Too many invasive species had been brought in with the development of the station to warrant that designation.  One of the invaders is a crawling weed with half-inch thorns and easily goes right through your slippers.  When the women opened the barracks to check it out, it was filled with cane spiders on the walls and ceiling; and the floor was covered with a carpet of dead ants that the spiders had eaten.  There are also rats and at one time there was a dog, left there by a rescued shipwrecked crew.  However, it was eaten by a crew that was shipwrecked later on.  The atoll is notorious for shipwrecks.

I saw turtles and seals too.  In fact, I had to get out of the water several times because the seals would swim towards me to see what I was doing there.  We always had to steer clear of all the animals so as not to disturb them or have them become familiar with humans.

Green island is located on the inner side of a large ring of reef.  Within this reef, it is relatively shallow and outside the ring it is very deep; rough water on the ocean side and calm on the lagoon side; and sloping fine sand beaches on the inside and course and rugged on the ocean side.  The camp and pier are on the lagoon side of the island.

Most of the day I was a “mule,” carrying six months worth of supplies from the shuttling Zodiac to the spider’s nest (the barracks). Lots of thorns, soft fine sand, hot sun, but no ticks.

At the end of the day I was rewarded by being allowed to visit the “AHU” (alter or shrine) that the crew from the Hawaiian sailing vessel, The Hokulea, had built on a recent visit to this island.  It is located in a spectacular site on the wild ocean side of the island just up in a safe spot from the water’s edge.  It is comprised of several large coral heads comfortably arranged with a Hawaiian adze placed in the middle, inscribed with the title “NAVIGATING CHANGE.”  I was deeply moved!

Kazu Kauinana, May 15, 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 15, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  28, 06.7 N
Longitude: 177, 21.3 W
Visibility: 10 Nm
Wind direction: 095
Wind speed: 17 kts
Sea wave heights: 2-3
Sea swell heights: 5-6
Seawater temperature: 23.2 C
Sea level pressure: 1027.2 Cloud cover: 3/8 Cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we hit Midway Atoll, the largest island we’ve visited so far.  It is covered with tall Ironwood trees and has been well developed by the military.  A large airstrip and an enclosed harbor can be seen on the approach.  We docked at one of the two piers on the northeast side of the island.  Midway is no longer a military base.  It has been turned into a wildlife refuge. The park rangers came over to the boat and gave a briefing and rules of the island. I went for a walk on my own and did not see the Laysan duck because I did not have a guide to the restricted refuge area.  Forty-three ducks from Laysan island were brought here one year ago and 40 have survived.  They have also produced ducklings  so the project is considered to be going well.

I did have a great time just moseying around taking pictures of odd and interesting man-made curiosities.  There was a 12-foot gooney bird between two super huge canons in front of the bowling alley and mall.  Everything had a ghost town sort of look, and there were birds everywhere as usual, but no people.  I made my way to the famous seaplane hanger to get a picture of its bullet-riddled side, but the side had been removed.  In another hanger I found the Midway Military Museum.  It had been the airport arrival and departure area. There were two bombs at the gateway, one 6 feet and the other 20 feet.  There were great paintings of aircraft, some in battle scenes.  Everything was from the 1940s and being alone there kind of creeped me out.  TWILIGHT ZONE.

I made my way to North Beach next to where we docked the ship.  This beach is rated as one of the best four beaches in the world and it lives up to it.  It’s about two miles long and the sand is blinding-white coral. The water is crystal clear and 3-5 feet deep for about a quarter mile out to sea.  You can easily see the abundant fish swimming fearlessly by you, and any Tiger shark approach would give you fair warning.  Even the sand is great because it is made of crushed coral and it stays cool.  It is not silica sand.  I was told that the fishing is great here, but it is catch and release because of sanitaria.

Personal Log 

That evening the OSCAR SETTE had a great barbecue and the whole town was invited.  I think there are only about 30 permanent residents.  It is interesting that most of the help is from Thailand.  I met a Thai artist who does sand-blasted glass illustrations.  I showed him the bust of Chad Yoshinaga that I was doing and then he took me up to his home and showed me his artwork.  I was very impressed with his wildlife and Buddhist images.  He said he just does it to pass the time.

We spent the night at Midway and left at 7 a.m.

Kazu Kauinana, May 14, 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 14, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  26, 31.9W
Longitude: 174.57.4W
Wind direction:  100
Wind speed:  22 kts
Sea wave heights: 4’
Sea swell heights: 5-7
Seawater temperature: 24.9c
Sea level water pressure: 1024.
Cloud cover: 3/8, cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today I went out to Lisianski (formerly Lisiansky) Island with the supply coordinator and met scientist Jean Higgins and her assistant.  Jean and her assistant, Veronica Decamp, are the only two on the island. There are noticeable differences between Laysan and Lisianski.  Lisianski has fine white sand beaches surrounding the entire island as well as in the interior.  It does not have a lake in the middle like Laysan.  Rather, this sandy island is thickly covered with shrubs.  It appears to be more pristine than Laysan but it shares some of the same human profiteering and devastating environmental history with Laysan.  Lisianski is an atoll whose center crater became filled with fine coral and sand, whereas the Laysan crater filled only partially with debris and then was topped off with water (presently high saline and brine). There are no coconut trees left; eighty had been planted in 1844, but the only trees I saw were Casuarinas dotting the islands here and there.  There was a lot of scaevolas and bunch grass, Ipomoea, Boerhavia, Laysanicum, Solanum nigrum, Sicyos, and Tribulus.

The shoreline and water clarity of Lisianski also differ significantly from Laysan.  There is a steep drop off 3-5 feet deep, and 6-10 feet from where the water laps up onto the sand. This in conjunction with dense, murky water (probably due to the very fine coral sand) makes swimming, bathing or snorkeling, a bad idea.  I witnessed numerous Green sea turtles and Monk seals swimming just a few feet from where I stood on the beach.  A few of the turtles were missing fins or had teeth marks on their carapace from sharks, probably Tiger sharks, that have been seen chasing them.

Something I did not mention about a commonality to all the islands thus far is the littering of dead animals scattered throughout the island.  These are not like beaches on the occupied high islands where there are much fewer animals and scheduled city and county beach machine clean-up crews.  Nature takes its course here and the living pass with dignity.

Lisianski suffered similar environmental disasters as Laysan except for guano mining.  It did, however, go through a period in the early 1900s of Japanese plumage plundering.  Like those words, “Plumage Plundering”?  It means that at least 1.25 million birds were killed on the islands for their feathers. A businessman by the name of Max Schlemmer, who was an agent for the Pacific Guano and Fertilizer Company in 1908, entered into an invalid feather-harvesting-rights contract with Genkichi Yamanouichi of Japan.  This contract also included Laysan. It is estimated that 284,000 birds were killed on Lisianski and close to a million on Laysan.  These are two islands where the birds were so thick on the ground that it was difficult to walk without stepping on them, and with every step, you would sink waist deep into the ground because of the collapsing nest burrows.

In 1910, shortly after the feather poaching was stopped, rabbits were introduced to Lisianski and Laysan. The U.S. Revenue Cutter Thetis made a trip to Lisianski in 1914 and this is a report by Carl Elschner from that visit:

“At the time of my visit, there were two houses on the island which, as well as the phosphate deposits, lay in the former lagoon.  That is, in a depression, which, however, does not contain water any more.  Surrounding the houses are small patches of tobacco, which grow wild, having been brought by Captain Schlemmer.  This is in fact the only vegetation on the island, and there hardly is a blade or stalk of any other plant to be seen with the exception of perhaps two poorly looking specimens of Ipomea, which I saw…  The rabbits introduced have just exterminated the flora…now the rest of these rabbits (we found many dead but very few living ones) will have to submit to starvation.”  (Elschner, 1915: 56)

It is important to note that the island is back to a healthy level due to the efforts of conservationists, scientists, monitoring by the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, and expeditions such as the one I am on.