Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Top of Forbidden

It's been a while since I've been on top of Forbidden Island.  I think the last time was 2006, but it may have been 2007.  There are rumors on the island that the government does not allow it, but that's not true.  You're not allowed to walk on the coral reefs.  There are no coral reefs on top of the island.

You really shouldn't try climbing up unless you have an experienced guide -- like me.  None of the tour companies will take you up, so you need to find a local.  There is a semi-worn path -- well-worn would be an exaggeration -- which zigzags its way up the cliff face.

There's about a 20-foot sheer wall at the top, and the only way to get up is to climb.  There's an old rope to help, but it's not something you should attempt if you are afraid of heights.

And while it's not exactly Everest, there is a great deal of satisfaction in making it to the top.  There's not much up there other than some birds and shrubs, but sometimes you can look down in the water and see sharks and turtles.

The top is as big as a football field, maybe a bit bigger.  Even though it's just shrubs, you still have to look around and check out all the views.

This is the view of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.  A few miles offshore, stretching north and south for hundreds of miles, at the bottom of the ocean, lies the Mariana Trench National Wildlife Refuge.  In the history of mankind, only three people have ever visited.  I should put going there on my bucket list.

And now that we're married, I guess you'd have to say that it is our Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, right?  I hope someone makes a two-seater submersible.

Edz is bravely checking over the edge of the cliff.

And here are a couple of pictures of birds.  The last time I was up here I saw a bunch of baby chicks.  This time there were lots of juveniles.  They didn't fly away when they saw us like the adults, just looked at us and hoped we wouldn't eat them.

But even this late in the breeding season, there were still some eggs.  We saw three, including this one being guarded by mommy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Island Ink

As I've grown fatter over the years, my donkey tattoo grew into, well, I'm not really sure.  If I stretched one way it kind of looked like a giraffe, and if I bent the other it resembled a goat.  So on this trip I decided I'd cover the gir-don-goat with a silhouette of the island namesake for this blog.

Shark Defenders in Saipan

I'm been in Saipan for about a week with a crack team of shark conservationists.  Since this blog is written without connection to any other groups or individuals, real or imagined, I'll refrain from listing their names here.  That also means I'm not at liberty to say what I was doing back here, but you could probably do a simple google news search and figure it out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sanctuary: Last Stand for Sharks in Micronesia

I'm in Saipan this week to attend the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures. I'll be showing this documentary at a private event and two public events:

This unique film, directed and produced by John Weller and Shawn Heinrichs, highlights the important steps needed to protect sharks in the Federated States of Micronesia and the growing movement to prevent extinction and save these threatened species. The film also highlights the most recent shark protections and paints a picture of the global threats faced by these key species.

Beginning in 2009 with Palau, protections for sharks have been established by countries and territories as diverse as the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Honduras. More and more nations recognize that sharks are more valuable alive than dead, and that they contribute both to the economy and the stability of ocean ecosystems.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Books Read in 2012

In 2011, 2010, and 2009 I kept lists of all the books I read.  None of the lists were comprehensive, but it gives my readers (both of you), a sense of the crap I read.

King Rat
James Clavell
This is Clavell's first novel, based on his experience in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II.

The Spirit of Semper Fidelis
Rick Spooner
U.S. Marine Rick Spooner's semi-fictional, first-person account of the invasions of Saipan and Tinian.

Noble House
James Clavell
After having read Shogun, Taipan, Gaijin, and King Rat, I just had to read Noble House.  It's a bit of a soap opera, but ties together characters from all of Clavell's Asian Saga novels, so it's kind of fun.

Chris Paolini
I read the first three, so I had to finish the series.  Eh.

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
After seeing the movie, I read the book.  The book is very similar.

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
And after reading the first book, I had to read the second.

The Master Blaster
P.F. Kluge
A fictional book based on the non-fictional island of Saipan.  It's like Arin Greenwood's book, but without all the angst.  Follows the Saipan-lives of four individuals who arrive on the same flight.  Also includes contract workers, not just expats and locals.  Catches the feel of the atmosphere that is modern day Saipan.  As an aside, the college has a new president in real life, not just the book.

King Larry
James Scurlock
This book sucked.  I kept wondering if the author had actually talked to anyone on Saipan outside the people in the expat bars.  Not worth reading.

The Boy Who Dreamed to be With His Parents on Saipan
Riza Ramos
A children's book written by a local contract worker.  A cute book, and a true story for thousands of children living here and abroad.

Suzanne Collins
I just had to read the final book after reading the first two.  I'm going to read the series again.


The Hobbit

World War Z