Settling into island life
We were up early this morning after an overnight trip on the ferry from Tokyo. The ferry’s first stop was Miyake-jima – an island just 10 miles north of Mikura. Kathleen spent many years living on Miyake when she first started researching the dolphins found around Mikura. But unfortunately for the people living on Miyake, the resident volcano erupted in a cloud of toxic gas which forced everyone to evacuate the island for many years. The gas was so nasty that it melted all of the metal from the cars on the island so that only the plastic bits and tires were left behind. The government still recommends that residents returning to the island wear a gas mask when the gas reaches dangerous levels. So with that in mind, I am happy to be on Mikura! I had my first sighting of the island from the deck of the ferry – it rises straight out of the misty ocean like a giant top hat floating on the water. On our way, we spotted a turtle surfacing to breathe – my first glimpse of Japanese marine life! No dolphins yet, but I am told that you can see them passing back and forth in front of the island’s pier quite regularly. We are settling into our cabin – unpacking and checking our gear to make sure everything survived the journey over the Pacific. My first impressions of Mikura have been quite encouraging – everyone is very welcoming, and the island is exceptionally beautiful. The town itself is built into the mountainside with no flat or straight roads to speak of – I can tell that my leg muscles will be getting a serious workout this summer. Kathleen has been greeting all of her old friends and everyone is glad to see her back on the island again. It is clear that she is a near-native here! I’ve been introducing myself to the boat captains, so I hope it won’t be too long before I get a call and we can head out on our first dolphin trip of the season!