Republic of the Marshall Islands
|The islands of Taongi Atoll are barren and dry compared to most of the other atolls of the Marshall Islands.
It is surprising; just a few degrees north in latitude make a large difference in temperature and rainfall.
The beach pictured above is typical of those on the lagoon side of the Taongi Islands.
It is common to find the beaches littered with killer-clam shells.
|Fairy Terns would come close while hovering over our heads, much closer than I ever experienced while on Kwajalein.
Perhaps they are curious about the strange creatures that have come to visit their island.
Unlike most birds on the islands of Taongi Atoll, the Fairy Tern simply lays a solitary egg in the crook of two branches. The baby learns immediately to latch firmly on the branch, for to fall would mean certain doom. The babies remain perfectly still, even when approached closely. This is to exploit their camouflage colors of brown and white. The adult coloration is pure white.
One afternoon while taking a break, we noticed an adult Fairy Tern setting in a nearby bush with several small fish clutched in its beak. It sat there for about 20 minutes throughout our break, occasionally hopping impatiently from branch to branch. This curious behavior caught our attention. After looking about in the branches of the bush under which we hoped to find some shade, we found a very small baby tern. The parent was waiting for us to leave so the important feeding of the baby could continue.
|There was no more spectacular sight than watching the hundreds of Frigate Birds spiraling in the thermal updrafts.
Frigates can be quite predatory and harass the other species of nesting birds relentlessly. Yet, their grace while soaring high over-head brings to mind only thoughts of grandeur.
|On the reefs, there are hundreds of colorful giant clams.
This is very different from Kwajalein.
The clams are quite a delicacy.
Taongi allowed us to experience what the wildlife would be in the Marshall Islands without the pressure from humane population.