Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fiji Expedition Day 3 - Vatu-I-Ra

After the day's third dive an away team visited Vatu-I-Ra, or Bird Island. This tiny island hosts a seabird colony of several hundred lesser frigate birds, red footed boobies, brown boobies, brown noddies, and black noddies. [More about these species in this post from the 2009 Joint Aquarium Fiji Expedition and in this post from the 2010 Belize expedition]

A red footed boobie chick (Photo: Mark Rosenstein)

You can smell the island as you approach. It's good luck to get spattered with bird poop while visiting a colony like this. Many of the birds will continue to sit on their nests as you approach.

Bailey surveys the island. (Photo: Keith Ellenbogen)

The expedition team cleans up trash on Vatu-I-Ra, Bird Island. (Photo: Keith Ellenbogen)

Unfortunately, there was a lot of trash on the island too. Some left behind by fishermen, and lots of plastic bottles and bags blown in by the wind and currents. We filled eight trash bags with what we picked up, and there was more we couldn't take, including tires and a freezer.

-Mark Rosenstein

[Note: Bailey reported a similar trash problem and clean-up on Vatu-I-Ra during the 2009 Joint Aquarium Fiji Expedition in this post. The 2009 Phoenix Islands Expedition reported similar trash and debris issues in bird nesting islands here, here and here.]

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