I finally made it to Midway Atoll – near the end of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, only Kure is farther west. The last two cruises aboard the Hi’ialakai, we did not venture this far. Midway is unique in the area for having good infrastructure, as the atoll still has a functioning runway for pan-Pacific flight emergency stops, as well as a good deep water port with pier and fuel facilities. It also has a liquor store, and the ship and scientific crews took full advantage of the Friday night on the town. Fish and Wildlife service built us a huge bonfire, loaned us bikes to sight-see around the island, and we played volleyball on North Beach at Sunset. Good times…
Something like 75% of all seabird nesting in the Hawaiian Archipelago happens here at Midway, and the island is a bird watchers dream. The birds are unafraid of humans, and are very approachable. The island is most famous for hosting the three species of Albatross found in the islands – commonly the Laysan and Black Footed, and rarely the Golden Gooney. Unfortunately, this is not nesting season, so no Albatross. Apparently, it is quite a sight to see, with over a million birds jostling for nesting space on the tiny atoll.
The canary seems way out of place – introduced after the turn of the 19th century and now well established, on an atoll dominated by sea birds.
The Laysan Duck has been intentionally introduced to Midway to provide some measure of species level disaster backup should disease or catastrophe fall upon the Laysan population. They have been very successful on Midway, so much so that some will be moved to Kure to the Northwest in the near future to further spread this rarest of ducks around the islands.