Pagan: 9 July 2010
After about a 2 hour wait on the boat, we were finally shuttled onto the island by small boats. The guys driving the boats told us the first order of business once we were all on the island was get the big safety brief. The boats took us right up to shore, but we still had to hop out into ankle deep water on the beach. Anticipating this, I had my old boots on, but I would have loved to have had some of those Keen water shoes! (Unfortunatley I was not able to find any in my size in Honolulu before I left).
Stephan and I were actually in one of the first boats to go ashore, so once we landed we headed up to the main camp, squishing all the way in my wet boots, where we met the camp manager, Tom. He didn’t introduce himself as the camp manager though, so originally I thought he was a member of one of the science crews that was already on the island. Upon meeting him, he said that he remembered meeting me once before, but I had no such recollection. (For whatever reason, this happens to me a lot – I must have a generic face.) He was an older guy, maybe in his late 60’s or early 70’s? I couldn’t really tell, but he was well dressed, sporting a long sleeve safari shirt tucked into matching cargo shorts. He told us to go ahead and eat some breakfast (by this time it was about 8:00 AM) and pick out our tents. Not realizing he was the camp manager, I stupidly said something about how we were supposed to get the safety brief first. To that he just kind of shrugged and said we might as well eat then so there wouldn’t be a bottleneck at the chow table once everyone got up there and that we should make sure to pick the good tents before they were all spoken for. It was then that I sensed he was not a clueless biologist, but rather someone who actually knew what he was talking about (I guess I’m a little slow). So Stephan and I ate breakfast (Spam and rice) and then walked back down to check out the tent situation. We had been told that a helicopter would be arriving later to lift all the gear off the boat, so we weren’t particularly worried about unloading the stuff, but when we walked back down we saw people hefting the gear from the boats. I saw some of the marine biologists hoisting my bags up the black sand beach, and I felt like a clod. Stephan and I had been eating while the other guys were busy unloading all the stuff. We quickly jumped into the fray to help out and began passing stuff up the beach. The marine biologists had about dozen air tanks that had to carried up, so I was able to atone for my idleness and then some (those tanks were heavy). Once most of the gear was ashore, there was a bit of a scramble for tents. I chose one that looked like it was in a good location, not under any coconut trees and in a pretty flat area. Later I would discover that it was never really under any shade during any part of the day and was very hot, but my choice had been made. Around that time the helicopter arrived in dramatic fashion – it swooped suddenly around some cliffs over the bay and startled us all. A little later it began slingloading the bigger supplies off the boat.
At some point in the morning we finally got the big safety brief which really turned out to be very short. We were told that one of the crew had been bit by a shark while working on the small boats in about 4 feet of water so we should be extremely careful in the water. We were also warned about the various ungulates that roamed the island – evidently one of previous scientists accidentally cornered a wild pig in a cave or bunker or something, and it charged him. Of course, there was also some discussion about the volcano and what to do if it started showing increased activity. I have to admit it was a little ominous during our brief to see it in the background with a constant plume of white smoke. After lunch we set up our work area under a tent in the main camp and picked the brains of the plant, bat, small mammal, and herp crews that were leaving that night on the boat. They told us about the transects that they had been using, where the good forest was, what to watch out for, etc. We also set up the malaise trap and some pitfall traps near our work area.
Later in the afternoon we walked down to the brackish lake to see what we could collect. We brought the aquatic net along with our regular collecting gear in hopes of getting something in the lake. Unfortunately I forgot to bring a pan to dump the net into, so sampling the lake was difficult. There didn’t appear to be much in there but tilapia anyway. Justin did catch an adult chironomid near the shore, so maybe there was something in there after all. It was starting to get a little late, so we began to head back.
Stephan suggested we sample some of the freshwater rock pools along the shore on the way back, so Mike suggested we divide up – someone should go with Stephan along the coast and the rest would head back on the trail we came in on. The coast seemed a little rugged to me, maybe even impassable in some spots, so I didn’t think this was a great idea. I said I would go back the way we came, and Christa and Justin didn’t volunteer either, so Mike ended up going back with Stephan along the coast. We stopped on the way back and did some collecting in the ironwood understory (mostly sword ferns). The spot we collected in looked like some kind of small rift. We didn’t find anything notable.
We ended up getting back before Stephan and Mike, so I had a chance to get in the water before dinner. Of course, I only got in up to my ankles for fear of sharks, but it felt great. I managed to wallow as best I could in 2 feet of water – I must have looked like an elephant seal. Dinner ended up being some kind Spam stew – it was really quite tastey. Mike and Stephan apparently found some cool pools in the rocks and were able to get some mosquito larvae. I suppose I should have more trust in Mike and maybe not always opt for the safer option. I had been dealing with a minor headache all evening, probably left over from the hellish boat experience or maybe the result of Bonine overdose, but I was looking forward to bed. Unfortunately, I slept very little that night because it was incredibly hot and sticky. There was absolutely no breeze in my tent. I think my tent was oriented in the wrong direction to get the ocean breeze. Whatever the case, the night was torturous for me.