Latest News
For Teachers
For Keiki (Kids)
About the Area
Photo Images
Video Images
Maps and Satellite Images
More Info

You are here: /main/research expeditions/September/October 2007/Tern Island

Tern Island Researchers Lunch Aboard the Hi'ialakai

by Darla White

Click here to see where the Hi'ialakai is now.
Click here to see current data from the ship.

On Thursday, the Hi‘ialakai invited the group of folks working out on Tern Island at French Frigate Shoals to come aboard the ship for lunch.  They arrived by boat through some very choppy seas to dine with CO Jon Swallow on the Chief Steward’s wonderful cuisine and fresh produce…every plate included fruit, a luxury item in this remote part of the globe.  They were a very cheerful bunch, full of enthusiasm for the research they are doing there and excited for the opportunity to be in such an endearing place.  The team is led by US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) island manager David Zabriskie from St. Petersburg, Florida.  The volunteer biologists are Ed Conrad of Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt Barbour from San Diego, California, Marie Medina of Austin, Texas, and Matthew York from Waco, Texas. 

In addition to wildlife management, the island manager is responsible for keeping the island running, which entails a great deal of maintenance and organization.  David, a biologist and a former Navy man, came to Tern Island with a host of skills necessary for living in such a remote location.  Here you cannot just pick up the phone and call someone if you need something fixed.  To live here, you have to be able to manage and maintain the infrastructure, as well as supplies for any sort of maintenance and research.

The Seabird Research Assistants in this group are here for a four-month term as volunteers through FWS.  Most have backgrounds in ornithology, but Maria had previously been working on fire ant bio-control research and this is her first time to study birds.  I asked where they found out about these positions, and they told me on line at the Texas A&M job wildlife board, and 

The group is currently doing reproduction studies on the birds.  Each of them is assigned different species and nest plots to observe.  When the chicks are old enough, just before fledging, they will be banded.  Next they will work with the albatross recapture and banding project.
They tell me the island is in its slow season, with a mere 60,000 birds from 16 different species in residence on the island, 18 total on the atoll (two nest at La Perouse Pinnacle).  At other times, the sooty terns arrive to hatch and rear their young in numbers estimated at 78,000 birds that nest on the island.  The albatross also return to nest here annually.  This island is strictly for the birds, turtles, and monk seals.
For an excellent description of Tern Island itself, see the article from the NOWRAMP 2002 journals at:

Tern Island Researchers

Photo (from left to right): Matthew York, Maria Madina, CO Jon Swallow, David Zabriskie, Matt Barbour, Ed Conrad


Click here for maps of the region



Coral bleaching

Galapagos shark

Home | News | About | Expeditions | Photos | Video | Maps
Discussions | Partners | Teachers | Keiki | More Info | Search
Contact Us | Privacy Policy
This site is hosted by the
Laboratory for Interactive Learning Technologies
at the University of Hawai`i