Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.
Today was the first day of my 5-day tour of our Pacific Islands operations.
The first day was filled with good people. I met with staff in our Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, had lunch with Division of Forestry and Wildlife Chief, Paul Conroy, visited with Governor Neil Abercrombie, and met with the partners in the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC).
In the evening we boarded a jet for the trip to Midway Atoll NWR, home to some of most amazing wildlife in the world. The plane flies at night to avoid potential for collisions with one of the million-plus albatross nesting on the islands of the Atoll. I'll be posting new photos later on in the trip, but here is an old shot taken on the Refuge just to give you a sense what this many birds can look like:
Stepping off the plane in the dark of night is somewhat surreal. It’s very dark; the stars are unbelievably bright and plentiful; and in the light cast from the golf-carts that carry you from the airstrip, you can see thousands of albatross sitting atop nests, some in the road itself.
They make a popping sound with their beaks, and a horse like whinny.
We had dinner in the Midway House, formerly the home of the base commanding officer, and now the refuge manager’s residence. President Nixon met there with the North Vietnamese Premier to negotiate an end to the Vietnam war.
It's a place draped in significance – biologically and historically. Travel can be a burden of being Director, but traveling to a place like this makes all the airports, planes, hotels and conference rooms worth it. What a treasure! Can’t wait to see it in the light of day.