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  • Writer's picturePeter Antonucci

Boatswainbird Island (off Ascension Island)

Tuesday | April 7, 2015

The morning began on the 12th floor deck with a sail into Boatswainbird Island, off the coast of Ascension Island, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.


Captain Johan is quite fond of the ceremonial mornings, and they are great fun for the residents. We gathered at 6:30 AM to watch the sunrise and to watch the peaks of Ascension Island come into view.


But because there is a large cargo ship moored off the coast of Ascension Island, we have been redirected to Boatswainbird Island where we will spend the next 24 hours.

After coffee and snacks on the deck, we went downstairs and prepared for our zodiac bird cruise. This cruise circumnavigated the bird colony on Boatswainbird Island. I have not been much of a birdie, but I am beginning to understand and appreciate some of the more exotic species.


I can even name five or six species of the birds that are indigenous to Ascension Island. They include the brown noddy, black noddy, yellow billed tropic bird, red billed tropic bird, frigate bird, white tern…. Of course, I will never share the enthusiasm of some of my colleagues for these fine feathered friends, but it is good to learn new things.  I mean, look at the size of some of these cameras.


Here, for example, are two of the colored tropic birds.


Here are a couple of the noddies facing each other.


And the crabs are all over the rocks.


But the cliffs and rock formations are also breathtaking.


In fact, she found this amazing view of a bird standing perched in the middle of a hole in the rock formation.


Sometimes it felt like we were under attack from an enemy aircraft.

Note also that the nesting areas are made almost entirely of shit from larger birds, aka guana.


You cannot fully appreciate how bizarre this is until you have actually been downwind of the cliffs as we were this morning.


After we returned to the ship, I mustered up for an advanced snorkel swim in the deep water along the steep cliffs of Boatswainsbird Island.


As the skies were rich with birds this morning, the seas were filthy rich this afternoon. I saw tens of thousands of triggerfish, but also some blacktip reef shark, manta rays and moray eels.

Fish 3

Ascension Island is a neat place to visit . . . but I wouldn't sail all the way across the Atlantic just to visit it.


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