Kure is typical of many small islands in having a history of abuse and introduction of alien species. The condition of Kure at present, with about half of its area overrun with the weed Verbesina encelioides and a rapidly expanding population of the destructive ant Pheidole megacephala, motivates strong corrective action, and this is being led by the naturalist Cynthis Vanderlip and various agencies. One of the greatest fears is the importation of additional alien species, perhaps riding on packing, equipment, or in foodstuffs.
Besides the terrestrial flora and fauna, the small population of monk seals may be very sensitive to human intrusion. The seals haul out on the beaches at Green Island. Among other dangers are interference with parent-pup relationships.
Although the bird populations would normally be sensitive to human occupation, at the time of our visit the albatross will be gone, minimizing impact on that group.
Marine resources such as fish and invertebrates, being part of the food chain supporting the monk seals, could be considered sensitive, although we are not aware at this time of any intrinsic sensitivities of particular organisms.
A condition of the landing permit, issued by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, is that we cannot bring onto the atoll any cardboard, paper sacks, or unpainted wood. Therefore, we will take appropriate measures to pack all our equipment in plastic or metal containers that can be thoroughly disinfected, and treat bare wood. In addition, we will follow the detailed instructions of the authorities in the preparation of the equipment and supplies, such as having it frozen for 48 hours before departure.
In order to avoid contact with the monk seals, we will avoid walking on the beaches, except for landing and to install equipment in approved places. The radio antennas, which need to be near the water, will be installed to the extent possible away from any seal occupation.
When possible, antennas will be installed to minimize impact on the local vegetation and soil. So for instance, it may be desirable to use the Loran antenna pad for one of the stations, even though it is not the most desirable location for radio propagation.
Radio antennas and supporting guys will be provided with flags to help prevent bird strikes, if advised by the resident naturalist.
The team will be instructed to minimize walking in unmarked areas at night, to minimize impact on burrowing birds and their nests.
In these, and all other operations, the policy of this organization is to give first priority to safety of people, equipment, and the environment, and second priority to radio and scientific operations. Thus, we may find it necessary to modify our procedures, should we find they are not consistent with the policy just stated.