By Emily Venemon
Nesting colony on Sand Island, a part of Midway Atoll NWR. Photo credit: David Patte/USFWS
I never thought I would end up working for an organization like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, let alone being allowed to travel to places like Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Talk about a change of scenery. I spent my first week on Midway Atoll NWR feeling like I was in a strange (but pleasant!) dream. The sheer volume of and accessibility to wildlife there is overwhelmingly amazing. It is beautiful, but also heartbreaking. Life and death are equally visible.
A red-tailed tropic bird and its chick on Midway Atoll NWR. Photo credit: David Patte/USFWS
One day a volunteer pointed out to me an adorable Red-tailed tropicbird chick tucked up underneath its parent. A few minutes later she showed me a Laysan duck that had died of avian botulism. I loved watching the albatross chicks flap their wings; I wanted all of them to grow up healthy and fly out to sea. Every day I saw birds that had died of dehydration, plastic ingestion, and other maladies, however. On Midway Atoll NWR, the struggle for life in the face of natural and man-made adversities is present in a way I have never seen anywhere else.