This morning we got the go-ahead to send 2 team members to Pagan Island by plane. Fearless Leader chose Bjorn as his trip buddy. They left after much fretting about all manner of things. Maps! Timing! Lost days! But what can we do?
Several of the team also managed to get on a helicopter to Sarigan Island [note: where all the feral ungulates were removed by aerial hunting and a flourishing monitor population]. They will be looking for snails and megapodes .
Notes on yesterday's excursions to find P. gibba:
LOTS of land crab burrows. Creepy giant hermit-crabs. DS grabbed one and it removed itself from from the Achatina fulica shell it was residing in. Totally gross.
We found over 40 snails of all age classes and collected 5 tissue samples.
Bjorn did not get to Pagan.
Thoughts on Saipan:
Steamy and warm. Many strange abandoned construction projects- probably a result of the Asian tech boom in the 1980s. Now enormous buildings are left abandoned to molder. I would hardly call it a touristy place- we saw few people yesterday, most of them at the Grotto and almost all Japanese and Korean.
Our hotel is directly adjacent to what can only be called a rooster farm.
Betel nut chewing is prevalent and there are signs in businesses that prohibit chewing (actually, I am sure they prohibit the accompanied spitting). Many people have the red stained mouth and terrible teeth that indicate a habitual betel chewer.
I banged up my right leg pretty doing some secret snailer snorkeling. Shin is bruised and scraped. Also, the pandanus with the saw-toothed edges gave me a few scrapes but I also noticed that it formed little blisters where it pierced the skin but did not tear. Lovely. Pagan supposedly has aggressive wasps (called boony bees) and beetles that spit formic acid and give nasty burns. Also, people say lots of things about the massive amount of flies to deal with. Hmm.
New species seen:
Countless fish that I am unable to identify.
(Tune in Tomorrow: we reach Pagan Island where there is no food)