Christmas Island

Seemed like an invasion was going on when we reached Christmas Island yesterday morning. Fifteen huge fishing vessels (or converted bulk carriers) were sitting on anchor waiting for their holds to be filled with Kiribati fish. In contrast I witnessed a flotilla of eight tiny canoes fishing for tuna next to one of the monster ships. 

The method of fishing of these local fishermen is as follows. The hook, the lure and a stone is wrapped in a leaf and made into a ball. A specific amount of fishing line is then wound around this ball. When the ball is tossed overboard the line unwinds until, at a certain depth, the stone falls out and the lure is exposed. In a good day the fishermen bring home five or six tuna fish per canoe. This in contrast to the ships from the westernized word that take scoops of five to six tons of fish (big and small).

When we reached the island the government vessel “Temauri” was tied alongside the jetty so there was no space for us to land the seventy passengers that we had on board. The captain of Temauri graciously allowed us to use one of his boats to bring the passengers to the other side of the jetty where they were picked up by the crane and safely put ashore. Half of our crew stepped off to join their families while the other half started cleaning the deck and the hatch.

This morning we prepared the ship for the trip to Malden Island and around ten o’clock the team of Kiribati Wildlife stepped on board, two imatang specialists and two local wildlife rangers. The purpose of this trip is to eradicate rats on an uninhabited island and restoring the natural balance. Not too long ago the rats were accidentally introduced on the island by visiting ships and as the rats did not find any predators they started to multiply quickly. They feed on bird eggs so the next generation of sea birds was in danger of extermination. The imatang scientist in the group now hope to safe endangered species of birds or even re-introduce birds on this remote island. I’m glad we can still fix nature.