Hōkūleʻa Update | August 19, 2015: Christmas Island Sighted

Aloha, this is Bruce Blankenfeld on board Hōkūleʻa in the Indian Ocean. We spotted land this morning by sighting Christmas Island, which is 550 miles along our track out from Bali, Indonesia. Last night at sunset, we knew by all of our deduced reckoning, which is just an estimate of keeping track of speed and course, that we were 430 miles from Christmas. We also knew that we were a little south of our course line, and we made an adjustment a few days back. So we reached back up to where our course is, and we expected to see the island today after sunrise. So we had a really good course and the crew was steering so well this whole time. And couple things happened. Just before sunrise, we saw tons of birds passing us going out to fish, and we knew they were heading out from the island. So we are going into the island and seeing tons of birds. and then right after sunrise, our two crewmembers from Japan – Kazu Nishimura and Tomoki Oku – spotted the island. And Tomo is also doing apprentice navigation, and he is also a tall ship captain in Japan and has tremendous knowledge of the sea and working out our style of navigation with what he knows. So we sighted the island of Christmas. And it was everyone’s success on board because they did such a great job. So we are heading in to say aloha and then continue moving on down the line to Cocos. Thank you for following us, and keep on watching us at Hokulea.com.

About Christmas Island

Christmas Island is a territory of Australia, named by European discoverers after it was sighted on Christmas Day (December 25, 1643). Over half of the island is an Australian National Park. The park protects and preserves the rainforests, ocean shores and reefs. A spectacular array of endemic and native plants and animals inhabit the island, amongst them a diversity of land crabs which has earned Christmas Island the nickname “Kingdom of the Crabs”.

Christmas Island is host to the highest density of red crabs (Gecarcoidea natalis), and their annual mass migration to the sea to spawn has been described by enthusiasts as one of the wonders of the natural world. Christmas Island red crabs live primarily in the forest, eating fallen leaves and fruit. At the start of the wet season, the migration begins, with males leaving the forest a few days before the females to prepare burrows at the shoreline. After releasing their eggs into the water, the adults return to the forests. A month after hatching, and after passing through several larval stages, the surviving young crabs emerge from the ocean and make their way mauka to the forests. Although several years may pass without a successful hatch and emergence, the population remains stable.


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