Mr. Marty Bluewater, is a lone resident living among nesting birds has made an island off the coast of Washington State a home and a refuge for 50 years.

From their perch atop a dead tree on the edge of a cliff, a pair of bald eagles enjoyed a panoramic view of a small island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off Washington State.

Far below, seated on a bench surrounded by tall, swaying grasses, the island's lone human resident , Marty Bluewater, watched them through binoculars.

Mr. Bluewater has watched life ebb and flow on the island. He has seen the eagle population rebound from near extinction - their numbers across the United States have quadrupled just since 2009, according to a recent government report - and watched the decline of gulls and starfish at the same time, a prospect that alarms him.

'' For 50 years, there were eagles that would come and go, and it wasn't a problem,'' Mr. Bluewater said. '' Now there are so many eagles that there is not a natural balance, and they have this unlimited feeding killing field over there and can easily decimate that priceless resource.

They already chased away the cormorants, they couldn't fledge any young. I really miss them. Much as we live eagles, something has to be done.''

Jim Hayward, a biology professor at Andrews University in Michigan, has spent more than 20 field seasons on Protection Island, studying the gulls, eagles and the vegetation.

''The eagles are a real threat to the seabirds,'' he said. ''The gulls seem to be a prime target. Especially the chicks. They ate small and like popcorn.'' Mr. Hayward noted that the gull population skyrocketed because of access to human refuse when the number of predator eagles was low.

Now the eagles have rebounded, but their traditional  food source, fish, has diminished significantly. They had to find food somewhere, so seabirds became a major part of their diet.

For the past 50 years, the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge has been his touchstone.

He has accumulated a a lifetime of memories here, welcoming six deer who swam over from the mainland and have grown to a small herd, hosting five pairs of nesting swallows in his eaves every spring and celebrating two weddings - one his own.

Mr. Bluewater, 72, is the only person to have a lifetime tenancy on the roughly 370-acre, two-mile-long island. 

In the 1970s, developers envisioned it as a beach community with an airstrip and a marina. They flew prospective buyers over in small airplanes. The pilots doubled as salesmen, driving people around to select their lots. Several hundred were sold.

'' There is no island between here and Alaska that even begins to resemble Protection Island,'' Mr. Bluewater said. ''You just feel how special this place is. It sits in one of these little magical vortexes on the planet.''

Mr. Bluewater is still working on the cabin - he plans to install solar panels so that he can stay there for longer stretches. In the early years, even making a phone call was impossible, but now cell service, e-books and streaming entertainment have relieved much of the burden of carrying things back and forth by boat.

 Mr. Bluewater knows that at some point he will be too old to visit the island. But, he said, ''As long as I can crawl up that hill, I'm going to keep doing it.''

The World Students Society thanks author Ruth Premson.


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