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Ashmore 2: Arrival

November 29, 2013

12/11/2013 (a.m.)

We have arrived at Ashmore, moored on the Inner Mooring alongside the Australian Customs Vessel Ashmore Guardian, with two Navy vessels on the Outer Mooring. Rumour has it that the reef has been relatively quiet these past few weeks, and that the crews have had little to do. In any case, they ran us through the landing paperwork and we were quickly moored.

The last stretch through to the reef was reasonably quiet and calm – a Tahiti Petrel, a Streaked Shearwater, some Sooty/Bridled Terns (they’re basically indistinguishable at range), and a handful of Brown Boobies. Notably, about two hours before the reef, we encountered a mixed cetacean pod, with ~50 Short-finned Pilot Whales, and ~10 others, tentatively False Killer Whales. Around 30 minutes before the reef, we ran into another pod, this time of >20 Spinner Dolphins.

Bird-life on the reef is as I remember it – large numbers of Brown Booby and Lesser Frigates, with Common Noddy;  less commonly Red-footed Booby and Masked Booby. I’m yet to see any Tropicbirds, Black or Lesser Noddies, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of getting ashore.

Our plan for fieldwork is to work nights, being dropped on Middle Island around 16:30, staying on-island until 06:00, and sleeping through the day. I am sure this will play merry hell with journal-keeping.

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From → Scientist

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