Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rare but Common

It's an interesting thing: nearly every day I see at least one member of a very rare species. Here, on this tiny speck in the middle of a giant ocean. I guess this makes sense as Midway, along with the other Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, make up the only specks of land for a loooong ways.

Alaska is just straight ahead,

and Antarctica is directly this way.

It's still strange though. I see or hear Bristle-thighed Curlews almost every day. Worldwide they number only 7,000. In our weekly surveys, we observe about 300 of the world's remaining 1,000 Laysan Ducks. And Midway boasts three fabled Short-tailed Albatrosses who currently number around 2,200 (up from 25 remaining individuals in 1954). Their recovery is absolutely amazing and inspiring to me. It's exciting that two of the three Midway birds make up a pair and have exhibited nesting activities in the recent past. The hope is that a new Short-tail colony will be established here and efforts are underway to attract more birds.

As if these birds weren't enough, I am also lucky enough to see some rare marine species as well. On the aptly named Turtle Beach, I see around 15 or 20 Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles resting on the beach daily. Population estimates for this one are sketchy, but one source says that only 100-350 breeding females remain. There are also quite a few Hawaiian Monk Seals that hang around the shore. This is a species that I'm told could quite possibly go extinct in mine or my children's lifetime. So you can see how it's even more poignant for me when I get to see a pregnant seal resting on the boat ramp.

I count myself very fortunate to see many of these each day. It is my wish that they will be equally as successful as the Short-tailed Albatross (or more so), and that the world will see that they are worth saving.\

Bristle-thighed Curlew


Laysan Duck

Short-tailed Albatross

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

Monk Seal with Sea Turtle


  1. Ugh I hate you for this....I live here for two years and have yet to see one!

  2. Don't worry. You'll see a monk seal! You might have to go to another island, but you'll see one!