French Frigate Shoals--25th Anniversary

Sometimes things were just ducky

Through Jerry's page, we've come into contact with some of the people who have spent time stationed at the French Frigate Shoals over the years. One of them is Tom Marquette. Tom is a career Coast Guard officer with fond memories and interesting stories about his time there. One of them centres around the visit of (incredibly) two pairs of mallard ducks! Here's the story in Tom's own words.

As you can imagine, life on FFS could be a little boring at times. Well, almost all the time.

One Sunday we woke up to find 2 pair of Mallard ducks strutting around the tennis/basketball court.  This was a big event for us (almost anything was). We didn't know where they came from, or how they got there. Well, of course they flew in, but you know what I mean.

If they landed in my back yard here, I wouldn't be surprised, but on FFS? We called the university (via phone patch) and told them. They told us to try and keep them there. Make them comfortable, water, food, etc. They would try to send somebody out on the Thursday DC-3.

We made the cook give us 2 of his largest baking pans and we filled them with water and put them out at the far end of the court along with some bread. Ducks were in "Hog Heaven" (or duck heaven).  Splashed around, ate the bread.

Ducks in Hog Heaven

Ducks were in "Hog Heaven" (or duck heaven).

So began the "Duck Watch".

Monday we woke up to find 2 ducks gone. Imagine our disappointment. Could it have been their accomodations? We didn't know what happened. More water, more food. Remaining ducks seemed very happy.

Tuesday all OK. Still only 2 ducks.

Wednesday ditto.

Thursday, oh my God, no ducks. Scientist on his way, won't believe us, will think we are idiots. Island wide APB issued. Search parties formed.

At that time the island had 4 dogs, all mutts, all male. Very frustrated dogs. "Bruiser", "Dummy", "Tiger", and a dog to be named later.

Found no ducks, but 4 very satisfied dogs noted sleeping under the bushes near the water tanks.

4 very satisfied dogs

4 very satisfied dogs noted sleeping under the bushes.

Scientist arrived on schedule. We "dropped a dime" on the dogs. Best we could show the scientist was a pile of feathers. You can imagine his dismay, but he seemed very understanding.

Epilogue: I guess he was not as understanding as we thought. Word comes down from District office. "COURT MARTIAL" Seamen "Bruiser", "Dummy", "Tiger", and a dog to be named later. Dogs found guilty, evidence was prima facie and overwhelming. Sentenced to pay the ultimate price. Urgent appeals made to commute sentence. Eventually sentence commuted to "get them off the island" before they eat a monk seal.

Happy ending, a departing shipmate adopted them. (I think he took them to them somewhere on one of the north/south flyways, where they could pursue their duck hunting during the season.)

French Frigate Shoals--25th Anniversary

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Last modified 99/06/05
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