We have officially finished our first month on Green Island, in Kure Atoll. Now that things have settled we are all starting to fall into place and fit into a rhythm. I wanted to share a bit of what our daily lives consist of to paint a better picture of life here on Kure.
I wake at 6:45 to my alarm.
I stretch and lay in bed listening to the birds vocalizing outside my window.
By 7:10 I pick my way across the path that is littered with sleeping Albatross chicks to the main house. I say a soft Good Morning to those along the path slowly waking as I walk by.
Upon entering the main house I typically find Matt making the final touches to his coffee. I place my cup down and wait for his pour over to finish. I refill the kettle and set it to boil as I gaze out the kitchen windows. The sun has started to peek over the dunes and Naupaka bushes to the East. The birds are all starting to stir as the sun rises. As I wait for my coffee to finish, I set about making my daily bowl of granola adorned with peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and a random assortment of dried fruit and nuts. I exchange a quiet good morning with Naomi as she comes in to make her breakfast. By the time I’ve finished making my coffee and monster bowl of granola a couple of the other crew members have awakened and set about the kitchen to begin their meals. I hand off the kettle to Vladimir and he and Brett exchange some morning jokes. I head out to the deck chairs to enjoy my breakfast with the birds.
I am fascinated by these incredible creatures. I love watching their days start as ours do. White tern parents take shifts watching their chick as one leaves to feed and stretch its wings. Albatross chicks awaken to a new day and set about busing themselves with tending to their nest bowls. The chicks have grown considerably since our arrival to Green Island and have become “mobile”. They move around from nest bowl to nest bowl, often having about 3 different spots to choose from.
By 7:45 I’ve finished my breakfast and have washed my dishes. The kitchen is alive now as Leah, Kelleigh, and Allison has awoken and joined the others. I head back to my room in the bunkhouse to read a couple of pages out of my current book, finish my coffee and get dressed. We are all dressed and ready to go by 8:20.
Strapped into our butt packs we sling on our spray packs and hui for the morning game plan. With our packs full to a gallon, we each carry roughly an extra 30 pounds on our backs. One by one we fall in line and trek our way across the island to the day’s treatment area. We consult many tools to get a proper understanding of what lays ahead of us. With maps and GPS’s in hand, a plan of attack is formulated and we prepare for our descent. Like a team of linebackers, we stand on the edge of our RA (restoration area) waiting for the “Start time!” call to be made.
Climbing in, out, around and over the Naupaka we slowly make our way across the restoration area. Careful to not disturb the nesting boobies, terns, noddies, or shearwaters we weave a complex web of coverage across what, at times, seems like an impenetrable area. Constant chatter about “I’m leaving you blue”, “I’ve got bad grasses!”, or the ever constant “Drink water!” can be heard over the tops of the bushes.
Working as a team we move in a line across areas of varying shapes and sizes. If a member of the crew falls behind others fill in to help them catch up. As the sun rises high in the sky we break for lunch. Returning to the main house, a quick lunch is prepared and we devour every last bite. A few laughs are exchanged but, for the most part, lunch is a quiet event, focused on the primal act of eating everything in sight. Fueled up and recharged we clean up and head back out.
The day is typically finished around 5-5:30, with some areas taking us a bit longer to square up.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons are consumed with seep and water source checks. Our Laysan Duck population is in full swing with multiple broods roaming the island. The team spreads out to check the various freshwater sources across the island and to conduct a population census. Once again, radio chatter about ‘Yellow X’ or “Green J” can be heard for miles. As we watch our broods grow and change we are reminded of how fragile life is. Groups return to enter “Duck data” and gossip about the ‘Ducks of Our Lives’ drama that unfolded before our eyes in the field. As the workday comes to an end the crew splits to attend to the other various aspects of daily life.
Often than not, the majority of us head down to the beach to bathe in the cool lagoon waters and rest in the setting sunlight. After scrubbing up in the ocean I head back to camp for a freshwater rinse and to change for dinner. Dinner is called and once again I pick my way along the path from the bunkhouse to the main house. Chicks are being greeted by their parents with an evening meal of squid, fish eggs and other sea creatures caught during the fishing trip out at sea.
Dinner is accompanied by loud laughter and shared stories from the day in the field. Often there is a discussion of the “secret ingredient” of the meal. Laughter erupts as Vladimir learns he’s been “tofu-ed” again or Kelleigh does impersonations. Leah makes an argument for the untold deliciousness of chicken dipped in chocolate and Allison giggles as Morgan says “sal” instead of “saw”. Brett dazzles the crew with her dessert concoctions and Keelan tells us of the monk seal activity for the day. Matt and Naomi round out the crew with stories of past on Kure and keep us entrained with lively conversation. This is our favorite time together. This is our time to let the stressors of the day go and be with our Kure ʻOhana.
As dinner finishes and dishes are done movies are started or sunsets are gazed at. Tea is poured as one by one we retire to our rooms. I read a few pages before dozing off. Another day on Kure awaits. The new adventures the island holds in store for us are left to be discovered with the rise of the sun. Kure is infectious and we are all glad to have been bitten.
Crew Question: What’s been your favorite aspect of life on Kure so far?
Allison: Getting to work outside.
Kelleigh: The connection to Nature!
Leah: The bird symphony.
Keelan: My commute to work; camp to the beach.
Brett: Not having to worry about money.
Matt: Not having to drive a car.
Naomi: The night sky.
Morgan: The disconnect from technology.