Midway Islands Travel Blog› entry 2 of 5 › view all entries
May 2nd, 2001 – by: cneoridium
In the 70's some commander had gotten the brilliant idea of putting a bunch of toxic waste in drums, loading them on a barge, and sinking it on the reef, just offshore. Surprisingly... the drums quicking corroded in the seawater and PCBs were leaking out. They hired a bunch of construction guys, hazmat workers, and deployed a group of Navy SEAL divers to salvage the barge, cut it up, and bury the waste in a pit in the middle of the island. My job as to make sure the wildlife was protected while they did this.
It was hard work. Turns out the biggest task was moving albatross. That dump truck that made the island look so small from the air turned out to be one of those huge mining trucks where the wheels tower over your head. Island is still small though, only 1 by 1-half kilometer... anyway, they would cut up pieces of the barge, haul them ashore, and the giant truck would make a trip across the island to the landfill. I'd walk ahead of the truck, moving albatross out of it's path. Between the trips I'd keep an eye out for curious seals or turtles heading into the underwater demolition area.
By the time I arrived, the albatross had big, fuzzy chicks.
The chicks were a different story. They too would just sit there, but had nasty tempers. I think they were fussy because they still had a dense, almost wooly coat of feathers, and the temperature had quickly climbed to the mid nineties. They would bite; spray you with foul, fishy, corrosive stomach acid; and generally try to kill you as you moved them. Note that (50% of the birds were chicks..) They were heavy too, full of fish oil and fat they probably weighed 7 lbs. The adults felt almost hollow since the were mostly feathers and had hollow bones. I still have scars on my inner arms from moving chicks!
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