|Chris Depkin surveys the wildlife at Jarvis Island|
|A Masked Booby
dactylatra ) chick awaits
its mother's return
The isolated nature of Jarvis Island (> 200 miles from the next nearest island) makes visitation difficult and is generally accomplished only once every two years. On 01 April, two members of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Jiny Kim and Chris Depkin, were dropped off on the north-west shore of the island. They spent the next 5 days and 4 nights exploring the terrestrial environs for the purpose of assessing the state of the seabird communities, looking for signs of unauthorized human presence, identifying and neutralizing any hazards to wildlife, mapping and inspecting the island’s vegetation communities for changes in distribution patterns and looking for recent, non-native plant introductions.
|A White Tern
(Gygis alba) finds|
a perch to view its surroundings
|A Hermit Crab searches for food|
The region is just now emerging from the current El Niño event and our visit to Jarvis seemed to support the above. Although thousands of seabirds were present during this visit, the vast majority were in the very early stages of nesting, either sitting on eggs or standing around, on territory, getting ready. Chris and Jiny documented the presence of very few chicks either alive or dead (dead chicks indicate earlier breeding attempts that failed) which indicates little or no nesting has occurred here over the last several months. Very preliminary and crude estimates suggest there were less than 150,000 birds present on the island during this visit. Previous visits place estimates well over one-million birds present during peak nesting.
After walking more than 30 miles during the 5 day period, locating and counting breeding birds and mapping vegetation distributions, Jiny and Chris were picked up where they were dropped off, not to return for another 2 years.
Jarvis Island is without question a rare jewel set in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. On January 6th, 2009, President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Jarvis Island NWR along with Howland and Baker island, Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls, and Kingman Reef are all included in this new Marine Monument which contains 86,888 square miles of mostly open ocean and the above uplands. The areas designated by this new Monument are used by over 4 million breeding tropical seabirds and at least 10 million more that are pre-breeders or migrants passing through those waters on their way to Northern and Southern breeding grounds. Protecting these remote places cannot be overstated, important not only for the marine and terrestrial organisms that live there but for the enjoyment, benefit and educational opportunities afforded future generations.
|The last bit of light before the sun sets over the Pacific|