GILBERT ISLANDS

Hawaii is a natural harbor of much beauty and an Island of peace

 

 

Kiribati, the Gilbert Islands, North Pacific Ocean map

 


The Gilbert Islands (Tungaru) were formerly known as the Kingsmill Islands. They are a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the Pacific Ocean, and the main part of Republic of Kiribati ("Kiribati" is the Gilbertese rendition of "Gilberts") and include Tarawa, the site of the country's capital and residence of almost half of the population.

The atolls and islands of the Gilbert Islands are arranged in an approximate north-to-south line. In a geographical sense, the equator serves as the dividing line between the northern Gilbert Islands and the southern Gilbert Islands. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) considers the Gilberts wholly within the South Pacific Ocean. Another method of grouping the Gilbert Islands is by former administrative districts, the Northern, Central, and Southern Gilberts (Tarawa once was a separate district).

The Gilberts form a continuous chain of seamounts with the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands to the north. The islands had been inhabited by Micronesians for several millennia (at least 2000-3000 years).

In 1788 Captain Thomas Gilbert in the Charlotte and Captain John Marshall in the Scarborough crossed through Abemama, Kuria, Aranuka, Tarawa, Abaiang, Butaritari, and Makin without attempting a shore landing. Russian admiral, Johann von Krusenstern so named the Islands in 1820. A British protectorate was first proclaimed over the Gilberts by Captain Davis of HMS Royalist on the 27th of May 1892. In 1915 the Gilbert and Ellice Islands were proclaimed a colony of the British Empire.

On the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Gilbert Islands as an important strategic staging post, occupying them by 10 December 1941. On 20 November 1943 the US Army and 2nd Marine Division landed on Makin and Tarawa, initiating the battles of Makin and Tarawa, in which the Japanese were defeated.

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands became autonomous in 1971, separating from the Ellices between 1976-78 to become the Gilbert Islands colony, which issued stamps under that name. In 1979, the Gilberts opted for independence, becoming the independent nation of Kiribati, the Ellices, the independent nation of Tuvalu.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 27   -  OFF COURSE  150 N, 1550 E  Gilbert Islands, Pacific Ocean

 (extract from: The $Billion Dollar Whale by Jameson Hunter © 2012)

 

Of the three main groups of humpbacks which summer in arctic waters, the western pacific herd navigate from the rich feeding grounds of the Aleutian islands past the east coast of Japan to the Philippines for their winter breeding. Fishermen looking for big rewards position themselves to the east of Japan in the path of migrating whales to pick off easy targets one by one. Whaling offers an irresistible opportunity for rich pickings in a centuries old tradition of fishing as a necessary supplement to agriculture, where only about 15% of Japan is useable for crops.

 

Having dealt the 'Suzy Wong' a fatal blow, Kulo was now swimming way off course away from her normal migration route, part driven by panic and partly in a deliberate attempt to throw off hunters. Kulo firstly headed south east to Hawaii hoping to meet with the central pacific humpback herd, then still confused, tried to resume course partially by heading south toward the Caroline islands, then swung a few more degrees east toward the Solomon Islands.

 

At this point in time the trailing solar boat racers out of Hawaii have been at sea for several days on a heading to take them south of the Gilbert islands on a south-westerly course heading to the equator and eventually the Torres Strait. Unknown to the solar pack, they are heading into the right vicinity to meet up with the stricken whale who is en-route to Solomon islands in a very confused state. Unfortunately, they are so far behind the Navigator, they will not come close enough to be of any assistance for another day or two.

 

Standing as high as possible in the rear helm position of the Navigator, stood John Storm, straining through a pair of old Carl Zeiss binoculars, looking out to sea ahead, he used the ssb radio to broadcast: “This is the Solar Navigator  calling anyone, We’ve just passed the Gilbert Islands heading north west. Is anyone out here and have you seen a big whale. Over”. 

 

He switched to receive, with a click on the mike button. The radio crackled intermittently, but otherwise remained silent. John picked up a smaller intercom microphone fixed to the helm bulkhead, and holding the send button, called Dan. 

 

“Hi Dan, you there?” Click. After a few seconds.

 “As ever skipper.” 

“Keep an eye out dead ahead, I’d like to save this whale if we can.” “ Me too skipper.” Dan was warming to the changing mission.

 

Near silently the Navigator’s hull cut through the deep blue waters, it’s motors powering it effortlessly at a fast cruising pace. Some fifteen miles west Kulo Luna was running out of energy, her wound draining her as she leaked an unmistakable scent, as a beacon to hungry predators. Sharks can sense blood in seawater in minute quantities. They can also sense when an animal is in trouble and an animal in trouble is a meal in the making. Three sharks were within easy range, just 10 miles away. They were on their ocean tour looking for food and now they'd found it.

 

One large great white arrived from below to swim up in a wide elliptical orbit around Kulo. Soon another came and then the third. The three large predators circled faster. Every now and again one would swim close in to Kulo and scrape its coarse skin along her, tasting her. The skin of the great white is actually made up of thousands of tiny scales shaped like miniature triangular teeth. The sharks were so preoccupied with their examination that they did not detect the object, now six miles away, bearing down on them. Nor would they have cared had they noticed, simply because almost nothing deters a shark that is preparing for a feast.

 

Kulo though, had noticed. Even in her weakened state, she was curious as to why the object was so quiet. It was obviously man made because it gave off a subtle whine and was bouncing sonar echo signals that she could hear faintly, but somehow the object moved without much fuss and made her feel comfortable. She also realised that her new found serrated toothed companions were none the wiser. She involuntarily let out a loud underwater howl as one shark lunged at her. In riposte Kulo thrashed the water with one large flipper, dashing the shark to one side. She became more animated slapping her tail to alarm the sharks, which worked all the while she had the strength. But her strength had left her from the bleeding dash to a safe distance from the Japanese fishermen. She recalled the pain from the harpoon as it sliced through her soft blubber and bounced off her brawny spine. Her back was on fire.

 

Yet still Kulo grew more curious about the vessel making haste toward her, straining to recognise the sounds. Was it another whaler? That would be the end of her for sure. Then another shark lunged and she dived below the waves in a show of defiance, curling down twenty metres then twisting back up to the surface for a high speed broach. She fell back into the sea sending tons of white froth sideways, also jetting salt into her wound. The pain was excruciating. The sharks gave her a wider berth for the next five minutes swimming in a one hundred meter circle, but they knew she was getting weaker and they would wear her down. It was just a matter of time. Time. Time during which the Navigator was getting closer.

 

Kulo began to sing a rumble of a message. She lay still in the sea trying to recover some strength. She could hear the signals from the silent vessel getting stronger, estimating that it was now four miles away. She watched the sharks closely, reacting to any move to swim closer. Her reaction signaled life was not about to be given up just yet. Still the sharks swam in and out, daring the whale to strike. The next twelve minutes would be the most frightening of her life. Life that was rapidly leaving her, and she knew it.

 

 

 

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A humpback whale stikes a blow for anti whaling - The $Billion Dollar Whale movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACIDIFICATION - ADRIATIC - ARCTIC - ATLANTIC - BALTIC - BERING - CARIBBEAN - CORAL - EAST CHINA

 

ENGLISH CH - GULF MEXICO - INDIAN - MEDITERRANEAN - NORTH SEA - PACIFIC - PERSIAN GULF - SEA JAPAN

 

STH CHINA - PLASTIC - PLANKTON - PLASTIC OCEANS - SEA LEVEL RISE

 

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_Islands

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_and_Ellice_Islands

http://www.dimdex.com/en/warship-display.aspx

http://www.npp.com.qa/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar_Armed_Forces

http://www.asdwire.com/press-release-8988/

http://www.maritimeaustralia.com.au/

http://www.pacific2013.com.au/innovation-awards/index.html

Kestrel Marine's Sentient object recognition system

Maritime Australia Limited

Pacific 2013 Awards

tattoos fansshare.com sectasaur_antarctic_melt_john_storm_adventure_book_by_jameson_hunter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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