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Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures
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Meet the Expedition Team

Dr. Elizabeth Flint, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist and Seabird Coordinator

Dr. Elizabeth Flint

Dr. Elizabeth Flint is the Supervisory Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and Seabird Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Refuges. Her primary duties include monitoring populations of the 25 species of seabirds nesting at the refuges and planning and implementing the biological monitoring, research, recovery, restoration, and management programs in the Pacific Remote Islands complex.

 

 


Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Flint

What was the best part about working with the Cousteau team?

I felt that the people of the Cousteau team were doing what they do for the same reasons that I do -- out of an intense interest and affection for wild creatures and places. Their excited interest and attraction to the wildlife reminded me why places like the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are so precious to us. I particularly appreciated the team members' attitudes toward large marine predators. The attitude of the Cousteau group toward sharks was one of sheer pleasure, respect and admiration, and I liked that.

Also the Cousteau team's comfort with night diving and the beautiful images they collected during long hours underwater at night acquainted me with a whole new cast of characters - those that come out on the reefs at night. I was very pleased to learn that underwater work can be done safely at night.


What recent NWHI bird research findings are important for the public to know about? Why?

Because seabirds so often nest only in remote sites and forage only way out at sea, it is easy to think they are insulated from human impacts on their populations. Recent studies of the annual survival rates of black-footed albatrosses at French Frigate Shoals have shown that there is a negative relationship between adult survival rates and some measures of fishing efforts in the North Pacific. The studies also show that current survival rates for black-footed albatrosses are lower than what they must be in order to sustain a stable population.

This kind of information is important for the public to know because most species of albatrosses worldwide have been affected by longline fishing, and only an international effort supported by public opinion will ensure that populations of these magnificent marine organisms are protected.


What types of seabird data do you collect? Why is the data important?

The staff and volunteers of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge measure reproductive success, population size, and dates of laying, hatching and fledging for the 18 species of seabirds regularly breeding in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The data indicate what the normal range of variation might be in these measurements between years and sites and serve as an indication of problems that may be occurring and that we can try to manage.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

When we do an ecological restoration project that involves eradicating a damaging invasive species from an island or bringing back a species to that place that used to be there, I get a huge rush of satisfaction. With a little assistance, life finds a way and ecosystems can start functioning the way they did prior to being disturbed.