By Sabra Kauka, Saturday, August 13, 2005
Aloha to all of you from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. I am on a research ship, the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai, and have spent the day at Nihoa island. We dropped David Boynton off, along with four other researchers who will be studying the archeological sites, an invasive grasshopper, and birds. We'll be back for them in one week. I asked for Ke Akua to watch over and protect them.
Nihoa seems to come straight out of the ocean with tall cliffs on three sides. The south side is sloped and this is where the rare loulu palm grows in the valleys. There are tons of birds nesting here and centuries of guano have turned the cliffs white. I rode the little boat as far in as I could go with the researchers and gear. Then, a smaller zodiac took them the rest of the way. I helped transfer all the water, food, and gear that they'll need for their entire stay. There is no running water on Nihoa.
The rest of the educators, scientists and refuge managers on this expedition took the one zodiac and two other hard bottomed boats to circumnavigate the island and snorkle at two places. We saw many species of fish and the major thing that strikes me is that they are fairly tame, much larger, and in greater numbers then we see on Kaua`i. The absence of man as a predator in the NWHI makes a huge difference in the abundance here. We must preserve this fish stock.
Access is limited to special use permits only and you have to go through an extensive process of freezing all your clothes, and they have to be new! We don't want to introduce any alien species to Nihoa, or any of these islands, because of their unique nature and special niche in the ecosystem. There is no other place like this in the world. The NWHI are unique.
It's time for meteor watch. I hope to catch a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor shower.