Pictures Include: Black face boobie, white tern with fish in beak, tropic birds and Henderson Island-Coral uplift with heavy surf
After leaving Pitcairn Island, we still had 1500 miles to reach Easter Island. Two other islands in the Pitcairn group are Ducie and Henderson Islands, both uninhabited but with large bird nesting areas. Henderson Island is an uplifted coral island with huge (40-50 foot) cliffs and coral surrounding it. Due to the large swells and crashing waves, our boat was unable to find safe anchorage. There are four endemic birds on the island: Henderson Lorikeet, the Henderson warbler, the flightless rail and the fruit pigeon. Because we didn’t land, we could not see any of these four birds, but did get great pictures of the many frigate birds, the red footed and masked boobies and many terns. It is part of the World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The next day, we circled Ducie Atoll, also a favorite nesting place for boobies, frigate birds and terns. Again, because of rough seas, we were unable to land the zodiacs for a look inside the atoll. However, we heard that survivors of the wreck of the Essex, 1820 (Moby Dick story) landed here for a day. But, because there is no fresh water, nor anything to eat other than sea birds and fish, the survivors left in their two whaling boats. A few survivors actually made it all the way to the Chilian coast. Earlier in 1790, Edward Edwards on the HMS Pandora stopped here to search for the mutineers from the Bounty. Again we were only able to take a few pictures of birds as we circled the island.
Rats are one of the biggest problems on many of the islands—brought their by the old sailing ships. Scientists are trying to eradicate the rats with rat bait spread by helicopter on places where there are a lot of nesting birds. Unfortunately, unless the last rat is killed, they continue to multiply. Goats have also been brought to some of these islands but are much easier to contain. There once were 600 goats on Pitcairn, but now there are only about 50 who are kept fairly well contained.