Day 11 – Snorkeling and Sawing

January 26, 2012


Early morning on the island. I trekked over to the Clipper House for breakfast before the sun had even started to show itself. Grabbing breakfast I headed back to the barracks to join Adam, the PA on the island, for a run.

Running around the usual path to the other side of the runway, with a few extra twists and turns, we discussed what it was like to live on the island full time. Adam was on a three-month stint on the island and had been there since December.

Sadly, he told me the novelty of the albatross’ wears off and that it gets very boring on the island. I do not know if I believe him about the novelty of the birds, but I could definitely understand how the island could be sort of boring with only 60 people on the island at any one time (excluding visitors like us).

Getting back in time to change and head to the boat, I was ecstatic about the idea of snorkeling on the inner reef again. We boated out to the eastern side of the atoll, a new location.

Hopping in the water I was prepared for the usual cold shock to my body, the shortness of breath before calming down and sticking my head in to explore the depths. However, this time it did not happen. The water was oddly comforting – almost as if I had become so accustomed to it and welcomed it.

Immediately there were fish surrounding me. Bright colors darted by – parrot fish larger than I had ever seen, schools of small yellow-striped fish, coral of all shapes and sizes – I could not decide where to look and where to go first. The shallow water allowed light to penetrate all the way down to the bottom where the colors shone.

Unicorn fish swam by to say hello and other fish I have never seen before checked me out. Lying still in the water I could hear the parrotfish chomping on the coral. The waves crashed over my head and carried me to a shallow reef. Trapped in the water a school of fish circled around me brightly darting past.

Jacks of all sizes and colors swam into the swarms of fish, attempting to grab a bite to eat. Fish swam into the crevices in the rocks as we dove down to check them out. This snorkeling site was so much more active than the last place!

The water started to get colder but I did not want to get out. I was not ready to leave the world of these fish. But finally, I decided it was time, pulled off my fins and my mask and started up the ladder. Instead, I turned and jumped back into the water for more time.

Finally, we were all back in the boat and headed back to shore. The whole way back we discussed the fish we had seen, fighting the current and an overall amazing experience.

After lunch, we headed out to the beach to take on more invasive plant species. This time, our opponent was Ironwood trees, a type of evergreen that was originally brought in to decrease the wind on the island. Now, they are taking over and overpopulate the natives.

Fighting our way through the scratchy Naupaka – a native to the island and important for protecting the shore line – it wove its way around our legs attempting to hold us back. Apparently, it did not understand that we were trying to give it more room to grow.

One student sawed down the trees while others sprayed herbicide. The blue plant killer – mild and completely safe for birds and humans alike – stained our skin and showed up in the most random places.

Hours later we were still going. We could not stop – every time we tried, we kept saying, just one more tree. It was addictive

This whole island is addictive.

For great pictures (even some underwater ones) go to the class blog.