satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Laysan Duck Trans-location to Midway

Laysan Atoll; aerial photo by Andy Collins
Hundreds of years ago we Laysan Ducks probably lived on all the Hawaiian Islands. After people came, we ended up living only on Laysan Atoll, 800 miles northwest of Honolulu. Notice the lake in the middle of the island; it's super-salty!

It's not good for a duck -- or any species -- to live in only one area! A tsunami or hurricane could wipe us Ducks out; we'd go EXTINCT!! To try and save us from extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought some of us to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Having Laysan Ducks in two places helps us survive.

But before the trans-location could take place, in 2004 and '05 USFWS removed the alien-invasive plant Verbesina from some areas on Midway. They used a big vehicle called a backhoe to dig about a dozen large holes in these areas. Freshwater from the surrounding sandy soil slowly seeped into the holes, so we now call these freshwater-filled holes "seeps." Many people helped to plant native Bunch Grass (Kawelu in Hawaiian, Eragrostis variabilis) around the seeps. The document "Examples of Successful Habitat Restoration (pdf)" has lots of pictures showing the creation of Monument Seep on Eastern island.

After the Kawelu had grown and when everything was ready for us, the Service trans-located some of us Ducks from Laysan to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. I, Kahiko Ladu, wasn't one of the original 2004 or '05 ducks, but my friend was. She came to Midway in 2005, and she now goes by the name "WT," since that's the bird band the biologists put on her right leg. "W" stands for the color of the band, white, and it has a black "T" on it. Barb surveyed Monument Seep today and took this picture of WT. It's a little hard to see, but WT's bill is pinkish; male ducks' bills are darker with a bluish color. (That's a Laysan Albatross chick in the background, and an albatross wing coming in on the right-side of the picture.)


Anonymous said...

Great sighting and picture. Yes, a handsome "pilgrim" duck. She traveled more than 50 hours on a ship from Laysan in 2005. She was released on Midway about two week after the long trip, and then was radio tracked until 2007. During her first two breeding seasons time produced four nests and hatched three ducklings - one of which survived to independence. Biologist think WT was one of the successful birds able to pass on her genetics to the population.

Barb said...

WOW!! Thanks for sharing this information; it is fascinating! WT would have been released on Sand Island, right? But I saw her at Monument Seep on Eastern I guess Laysan Ducks have no trouble flying among islands of the atoll?!