The days are getting longer and the weather has warmed up. We are heading into summer with the uncertainty of what this year’s El Nino will bring us. Our efforts to bring Tetiaroa back to its natural state, with a healthy coral reef, motu forests, and native animal populations is preparing the island for the uncertainties of this year and those to come. We are learning as we go and developing a model of success for other tropical islands. Our efforts have been supported by our local partners, especially The Brando Resort, by financial support from our donors, and by all the hard work of our staff and the amazing volunteers that have helped us when we needed it the most. Thanks to all, and we hope you enjoy a few stories here and that we will see all of you again on this magical island.
Nature Notes | Crabs are really cool
Crabs are really cool. They are part of a group of animals called Arthropods that account for 80% of all animal species (you know them as spiders, beetles, ants, millipedes, mites, mosquitoes, butterflies, lobsters, shrimp, etc.)
On Tetiaroa, like many remote Pacific islands, before the arrival of mammals (humans and rats), crabs played a huge role in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The mammals however reduced the crab populations to a level where some species almost disappeared, and others were greatly diminished.
As Tetiaroa Society removes invasive species the island is returning to its natural state. One of the results of this is that the crab populations are returning to normal and they are resuming their natural roles on the atoll.
This is a question that University of Washington (UW) researchers are interested in better understanding. Very little is known about where Brown Boobies in tropical waters are going to forage. The University of Washington is placing GPS tracking tags on Brown Boobies, which record their locations with high accuracy every 5 minutes when they leave Tetiaroa.
From this, we can all learn how far Brown Boobies travel, how long they are away from Tetiaroa, and if they travel to the same locations repeatedly. The antenna on Tahuna Iti is receiving the data from the tags placed on the birds and then sending it via the cell network to the researchers at UW.
Currently, UW researchers are monitoring 12 birds and are planning to tag at least 14 more. In this figure, you can see the pathways some of the tagged birds took during the first week of monitoring. On this map, each bird is represented by a different color. All of the birds are currently nesting on Tahuna Iti and return to their nests after venturing out. As you can see, more of the birds so far are traveling south rather than north, with some birds visiting Moorea and Tahiti. The tags will stay on the birds for a couple of months, letting the researchers learn more about Brown Booby foraging locations and behaviors during nesting.
Funding and support for this research provided by the Seeley, Anderson, and Bailey Families, and Tetiaroa Society.
Mauruuru to our volunteers
On Tetiaroa we have a dedicated staff that works hard to teach people about the island and support our science and conservation programs. We also have an exceptional extended family of donors that support what we do. But sometimes the most important people in our organization are volunteers who come to the island and put in long days carrying out field work.
Most recently we had a group that came to help with the ant eradication. They cleared kilometers of trails through the bush, carried 10 kilo buckets of bait across the motu, and distributed the bait carefully across selected areas. Many of this group were returning volunteers who helped with the rat eradication, and have come on trash collecting campaigns, and will very likely work with us again.
During this season we would like to say a hearty thank you to all of these dedicated people who have worked with us to preserve and protect Tetiaroa.
Tetiaroa Society is a US registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Tax ID #45-1080688). We host scientific research, develop and implement conservation and education programs, and curate the island's knowledge base. We partner with The Brando to establish Tetiaroa as a model for sustainability, where businesses, non-profits, scientists, educators and the local community work together for common goals. Our program objectives are summarized in our Conservation and Sustainable Use Plan, which is available on our website.