I released this message on 8/19/2009 while snorkeling in Kavieng Harbor. I still haven’t been in the water anywhere except the harbor. There are several reefs here in the harbor, but most of the coral is dead, and it is fairly silty.
I couldn’t find a bottle to put the message in, so I strapped it on a piece of wood. There aren’t many plastic bottles laying around, I think because drinks in them are expensive, and people often keep them and refill them with water for later.
After the snorkeling I had some beers on a boat with some of the people Kate works with, and some visiting researchers.
On Thursday I spent the day with these researchers. They went down the coast to look at some terrestrial sites and see if they could come back and do a detailed survey.
Much of the land along the coast has been planted with oil palms, and there is not much wild forest left. The oil palm business is bad for the environment. They spray Round-Up around the base to keep anything from growing, and use lots of fertilizer, both of which get washed into the ocean about 30 yards away from the rows and rows of palm trees. I included a video above out the truck window of one of the plantations.
We drove then hiked-up into the forest where it was much more wild and natural. I saw some interesting plants, and giant fruit bat. These bats are very funky, their bodies are about the size of a house cat, and they look pretty scary when you see them in flight, almost like a pterodactyl, or something. In Vanuatu Kate said they eat them in a French restaurant after they tart them up with a funky name like “le-fox-de-flight in orange sauce”.
One of the guys from Kate’s office told me there are bats living in the walls of the house we are in, but I haven’t seen any. I did find one in our laundry a few weeks back. I thought it was a piece of lint, but it was furry and gripping when I tried to wipe it off. Yike!!!
I did manage to find some cigars in the local market. They look funny, but burn really well, and for 20 cents a piece you can't beat the price. I am sending some back, along with some betelnut to some of my friends in NYC.
On the way down the coast we stopped to visit a woman who feeds eels for tourists. You purchase some canned fish at a store, then go to a small river. The eels are large and very tame, and swim right up to you for a feeding. We saw two medium sized ones, but before the big “King Tide” event last year there were many more.
New Ireland had a small environmental disaster last year when a period of high winds corresponded with strong tides. The water rose up and destroyed a lot of villages, and roads. It also did a lot of damage to the reef. Cathy the eel lady showed us where her house had been washed away. Apparently it destroyed the eels habitat or killed them outright, so she is starting over with a new group of eels.
She is an interesting older woman. She was convinced I looked just like “Gold Baum” from Jurassic Park. She meant Jeff Goldblum, other people have mentioned that I look like him. He and I share a birthday, only he is 10 years older:
I signed her guest book. “Jeff Goldblum”. She said “Goodby Gold Baum” when we left, so I’m looking forward to visiting with her again the next time we are down that way.
“Its not that ‘nothings easy’, we just don’t notice the easy things stuff.”