Malama Monk Seal Voyage #9: Midway Atoll

The bikes represent much of what I love about Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, the most well known atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain, thanks to a battle fought in these waters during World War II. The biggest of the islands, Sand, is so small all you need is an old beach cruiser to…

Malama Monk Seal Voyage #8: Pearl and Hermes Reef

Every time we climb down the Jacob’s ladder into a small boat, and our coxswain pulls away from the Oscar Elton Sette, I say, “This is my favorite part of the day.” I’ve been on the ship for more than two weeks, but nothing beats being this close to the water just after sunrise. So…

Malama Monk Seal Voyage #7: Lisianski

Heading to our small boat safety briefing, I overheard the Commanding Officer tell our Chief Scientist that a tropical storm was headed for Laysan in the next 48 hours. Laysan: the island we’d most recently departed. The same island on which we’d re-deployed one of our field campers, Carrie, and dropped off two bird biologists…

Malama Monk Seal Voyage #6: Meet Ama`ama.

The commanding officer, chief bosun and I were aft on Oscar Elton Sette in the early evening when Dr. Michelle, our onboard veterinarian, threw both arms in the air and started an exuberant dance. If it had been an NFL Sunday, I would have thought her team had scored a touchdown. Next to Hawaiian monk…

Malama Monk Seal Voyage #5: Laysan

I was walking on the leeward side of Laysan Island, over 900 miles northwest of Honolulu, when Megan, one of the remote field campers with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program approached me. The full complement of seabirds flew overhead or roosted in nearby bushes, including two new species for me during our trip: Bristle-thighed curlew…

Malama Monk Seal Voyage #4: Endangered Cargo

It looked like someone had spilled a bottle of glitter on the sky last night. That’s how many stars were twinkling when I stepped onto the aft deck for my “seal watch.” The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands lay in a curved line on a map. You’d think our route would start with the nearest—Nihoa—and follow in…