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Clipperton Expedition Day 7

This morning I chose to spend the time on the island with Meghan and Sean. We’ll be diving every day for the next week anyway. Going on the island will likely not be possible again. The swells are too high and each trip with the zodiac is an adventure on its own. 

Our plan was to get to the north side of the island to the flagpole. The zodiac dropped us off just east of the rock on the south side. We all got thrown into the water and swept up right onto shore. Mother nature’s help isnt always very graceful. :)But we were ready to start our walk on the island, just had to wait for Alex and the rest of the crew. But due to the current and swells the zodiac was only able to drop them off about 1.5miles west of us near the rock! Well the sun was rising and our time limited, we started walking per plan. Left our life jackets and some equipment for the rest of the crew below a makeshift pole for them to find and us to spot. The flat nature of the island definitely comes in handy when looking for team members. Nowhere to hide. 

The images piercing our hearts just a little more every time we spotted a hard hat, a shoe, a flipflop, lighter, toothbrush, spoon, fork, razor… we want to pickup everything, it’s just not possible. To cover more ground and focus we each named our items… Meghan picked-up every toothbrush, Sean razors and I went for lighters and recognizably branded items. Anything. My first choice would’ve been flipflops but my bags would be fillled in a 5 step radius. And the things we found! Avon containers, Bayer pill bottles, toy soldiers, toy cars, Coca-Cola caps, Sprite caps, Hawaaiana flip-flops, colgate toothbrushes, Adidas shoes… every item proving our connected society and shared responsibility more and more to us. 

Then we found another dead bird. Sean went for dissecting it, Meghan and I not thinking much to it, just another few microplastixs maybe or nothing significant. Sean’s expert eyes immediately recognized the foreign appearance of the bird’s stomach even before he was able to open her up. ‘There’s definitely something in this one!’ And he had our pure attention. Reaching his fingers deep into her intestinal tract he pulled up a 2-3″ piece of a shoe sole. The inevitable. We photographed ans Meghan bagged the specimen. Sean turned to the birds throat, and announced another piece, surely it was going to be the rest of the shoe… A black piece was extending from the birds throat, a long piece, the more he pulled the bigger the piece, it was a surreal moment to say the least. He managed to remove the full length back-pack strap from her throat. It was folded in two, total length at about 10 inches! No doubt we found the cause of death. The dark, black cause. How did that beautiful boobie get a backpack strap 800miles away from the nearest town? Why did she have to suffocate and die like that when she had no connection to us? What do we do with old backpacks? How many are there in landfills and in our oceans and waterways? After profanely expressing our feelings we just continued walking. I was speechless, no words came out. That image will break my heart a little more every time I think of it. Am I really part of this species who cant think enough and care enough to at least avoid harming and destroying creatures we dont even see? Can we not consider mother nature at least? Do we really need to argue over even the most obvious? I just wanted to scream, as did Meghan and Sean. But nobody was around to hear anything just as that beautiful bird’s final exhale. We continued to walk.

We eaxh filled up an Ikea bag of our chosen goods. I added on the spoons and forks too after awhile, there were so many of them. Surprisingly surviving all the elements on its journey all the way out here. 

We got to the war site from WW2. Shells, casings and remains of what once were machines of destruction now turned into crab or bird nests. Some sort of explosives that were deemed unharmful by the French military. And of course more washed up plastics. 

Through more heartbreaking nests made up of plastic pieces and dead birds we walked 4kms but couldnt make it to the flag pole. There was at least another km or two to go and under the heat we decided it was extremely unlikely for us to make it back in time for the zodiac walking on the rubble ground. The majority of the surface of the island is like walking on piles of bone, old coral pieces. Under the scorching sun on this clear day they’re blindingly white and hot as coal radiating even more heat onto us. We decided to abort mission and return to our pick-up location. Maybe we’ll have a chance to return again. 

We made our way back mostly walking by the lagoon rather than the ocean. The lagoon makes up the entire interior of the circumference of the island. It’s still salt water. It’s very murky waters – greenish red filled with vegetation. No fish. Reportedly filled with dangerous bacteria. We are asked not to touch it. 

One surprise was to find how the birds were making nests just beyond reach from the coast line. Maybe just their attempt to keep their eggs and chicks away from the reach of the rats? The contents exposed to the sunlight and elements, somehow all the eggs remained in the nests. 

The rest of the group went diving and they spotted many juvenile sharks and dolphins. I loved how everybody came up from their final dive and wanted to share with me their dolphin shots. Just beautiful and so heartwarming after the experience on the island. 

For cinqo de mayo the amazing crew of this Nautilus boat prepared a Mexican party night right on the sundeck. After being pampered by Anna with the world’s best unsweetened margaritas and sharing a sunset photo session with the great Jean Francois and Oscar, dinner was called. Note to self2: if a Mexican chef tells you a salsa is ‘very’ spicy believe him. That was absolutely the painfully best onion salsa/relish that changed our lives again! 😉 

Tomorrow a full dive day with 4 dives to heal our hearts a little as we leave the boobies and head for the dolphins and sharks. 

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