Kite with a Camera: Flying Over Nikumaroro Island

This is blog entry posted from the field during the 2012 Phoenix Islands Marine Protected Area (PIPA) Expedition. The Phoenix Islands are an isolated island chain more than 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. They are part of the island nation of Kiribati, which partnered with the New England Aquarium and Conservation International to create PIPA in 2008. Today it is one of the world's largest marine protected areas and a UNESCO world heritage site. This voyage is part of a regular series of scientific expeditions to investigate coral health and study ecosystems and biodiversity.

Photographer Keith Ellenbogen, a regular Aquarium blog contributor, is on the expedition capturing stunning underwater photos of marine life as well as these aerial images of Nikumaroro Island that were made using a kite.

Flight and Nikumaroro are no strangers to each other. Indeed, Nikumaroro is perhaps most famous as a potential landing site for Amelia Earhart, the famous female aviator. The Amelia Earhart recovery is being attempted by TIGHAR, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, who made the movie below (posted for convenience, and also shows a helicopter flyover of the island):

But when our team is on Nikumaroro, they are busy gathering biological information about the corals, fishes, and seawater chemistry (similar to their work on the other islands, detailed in previous posts). Amidst all the hard work, a bit of fun is definitely welcome! One of the goals was to collect water samples from the Niku lagoon - these kite photos helped to verify the shallow nature of the lagoon, and provided a fun way to contextualize the site of sampling. In this case, Keith and Jay mounted a GoPro camera to a kite in order to get a birds-eye view of the island, without taking on Amelia-style risk. :-) We are happy to report that there are no missing aviators as a result of this activity. Instead, just some great photos! Not bad for a team that primarily works underwater. Enjoy!

Expedition members Keith and Jo test the aerodynamics of the kite and camera.
(Photo: S. Mangubhai)

Expedition Leader Sangeeta launches the kite,
which is being controlled by Keith.
(Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

Aerial photograph of Nikumaroro Lagoon from the kite (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

Aerial photograph of Nikumaroro Lagoon from the kite (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

1 comment:

  1. I love kites. I use to make kites before when I was a kid and it was fun. But I can still make kites today, the big ones.