We’ve been back from vacation for a couple of weeks and things have been just as busy as they were before we left. Poipu beach has had the usual seals up most every day, that along with all the Californians on their last vacation before school starts, make for very busy and somewhat stressful times on the beach. We both will be glad when school starts again on the mainland. School has already begun on Kauai, August 1st. Many of our regular seal volunteers are “off island”, the saying when folks are back on the mainland. That makes us doubly busy, Charlie spent 8 hours on the beach one day last week, and I spent 6 hours the same day.
The NOAA ship that supports our program on the northwestern islands, stopped at Kauai on her way up to the northwest, dropping off Charles Litton, the Oahu medical head of the program and taking on Michelle Barbieri, the head vet. It’s a really nice ship, although our coordinators jokingly refer to it as the “USS Nocango” (no-can-go). I guess ex-Navy people look down on anything that isn’t Navy. We “first responders” met at Salt Pond with Michele to get any questions answered and also to introduce us to something called GAR, the protocol to respond to marine mammal emergencies. GAR stands for ‘green – amber – red’, which refers to assessing the conditions for interactions with seals. We have been selected to be among the responders that can actually touch the highly endangered animals, although we still have to be finger printed and then clear an FBI search. From now on, only the approved responders will be able to tag or be involved with any seal activity other than simple beach protection. A couple of years ago, we were called to help with a necropsy of a stranded pilot whale on the north shore. This week, we also disentangled a Green Sea Turtle that had monofilament wrapped around it’s neck and front flippers.
It’s been very interesting to become more involved with the Marine Mammal program. One detail that we learned was the individual number of seals identified on each of the main Hawaiian Islands: 38 on Ni’ihau, 52 on Kauai, 42 on Oahu, 53 on Molokai, 13 on Maui, and 7 on the Big Island. Ni’ihau’s number is probably low because access is limited. On a fly over, the estimate was over 100 there.
We have taken some time on the weekends to indulge in some local events. The local rep theater performed Spamalot, it was very funny and very well done. We also, the same night, went to Pua Kea to see our favorite Senior Softball musicians, the crowd wasn’t very big, but it was still enjoyable. It’s very informal – this week there were only 3 of the regular 5 guys playing. It was still fun, Wes, the guy on the right, was joking around, saying that they were streaming live into Japan. After most songs, he’s stare into a make-believe camera and speak Japanese.
The weather has been phenomenal, the trades are back and the highs have been in the mid 80’s. This month has also seen an increase in rainfall so everything is quite green.
I worked the primary election last Saturday, that is always fun to do since its a chance to see our neighbors. Unfortunately, turnout was only about 35%. Hopefully the general election will bring more voters. The usual venue, the Koloa Neighborhood Center next door had been booked for a wedding, so we had to move the whole shebang down the road to the only place with enough room to accommodate all the paraphernalia, The Kauai Community Church. Charlie didn’t help this year, because the poll workers are sequestered from 5:30 AM to 6:30+ PM. He decided that a 13 hour day wasn’t desirable. We’ve been unsuccessfully lobbying for the State to go to half day shifts. Charlie did make a Starbucks run for the workers mid afternoon.
We also…..finally……had our interview to maintain access to the Pacific Missile Range Facility. That entails a background check every year, but it allows us to use one of the most lovely beaches on the island and dine at a Navy restaurant, Shenanigans…..a extremely pleasant place to eat.
The view from Shenanigans, note Niihau in the background.