Blog 5 – Suwarrow Voyage – Te Ipukarea Society – Rat Baiting Programme

Blog 5 – 15 June 2022
After spending 3 nights on Motu Tou, one of the many motu of this atoll, we are back and mostly well rested after a comfortable and dry sleep onboard our mama Maru last night. The transition process is in full swing, with half the crew on anchor watch, well the other half are exploring the ‘capital’ of Suwarrow, anchorage.
Our three days away consisted of a full rat eradication operation. We were dropped off on Saturday afternoon by Papa Harry, one of the two caretakers here, and spent our initial hours setting up camp. With 3-25L containers of water, 2 boxes of dry goods, and 15 buckets of rat poison, we were all in for a wild adventure!
DAY 1 – The morning involved track clearing, measuring, and marking out 20M intervals across both motu. This was important to make sure the bait that would be laid out, covered the majority of the motus surface area. With a few compass confusions, that lead to great team bonding; and rummaging through the saddening amounts of plastic pollution build-up, the first part of the operation was complete. The majority of the crew came back to base for a little wind-down time, well a few of the more eager individuals went exploring the reef. The afternoon mission was to lay the actual poison down. The bait had already been carried across at lowish tide, so off the keen ones went to cover Motu Kina 1 and 2 with rat bait. Dinner was eaten and a small fire was lite, as we all relaxed and celebrate the small wins of the operation.
DAY 2 – The morning was a bit more chill, with lots more free time to explore and enjoy the freeness of this remote paradise. Some of the crew went for walks out and around the reef, well others sat back and enjoyed the sun. Some went exploring inland for nu and scorpions, well others started a unga counting survey.
In the afternoon, the mission was to check that the bait was covering the motu, and also to set out some old school rat traps to see if there were any instant results. Within the first 10mins of the traps in action, 1 kiore was killed and dicsected for scientific sampling. That 1 was the only kiore caught this time around. Everyone was pretty nackered, but feeling content knowing the job was done, for now….. The evening was again celebrated, with the beautiful sight of the full moon rising above the lagoon, and a big fire on the beach. From midnight onwards however, the rain made its way in to most peoples tents, and the discomfort of large and sharp coral mattresses almost became a little too hard to handle.
By the final morning, we were out of water, mostly only cans of food left, and a pretty dim moral. The comforts of the canoe were definitely being appreciated now, if they were not before.
The experience on the motu, was definitely eye-opening to say the least, and an amazing opportunity for the young ones especially, to get a glimpse into the world of conservation. The unga count was at 160 on departure, and the taste of salt water rice will be forever ingrained in our minds.
Looking forward to 7 days of vaka maintenance, and general upkeep, as well as whatever adventures Anchorage Island, has in store! EO

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