Posts written by Alan Tennyson

Burgess Island – a recovering seabird island

  • Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) accompanied us as we approached the Mokohinau Islands. Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fig. 1. Team members Jo Peace, Megan Friesen and Derek Bettesworth head towards the Burgess Island lighthouse. Little Barrier Island Hauturu can be seen in the background. Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fig. 2. Old lighthouse accommodation provided a comfortable base with spectacular views. Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fig. 5. Black-winged petrels displaying over Burgess Island at night. . Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa

By Alan Tennyson, Curator of Vertebrates I was invited by Chris Gaskin (Forest & Bird) and Matt Rayner (Auckland University) to join a party in February 2013 on the Mokohinau Islands to hunt for the nesting grounds of the recently rediscovered New Zealand storm petrel (Fregetta maoriana). This island group lies more than 50 km… Read more »

Night Life on the Poor Knights Islands

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The Poor Knights Islands, northeast of Whangarei, are perhaps best known as a world-class diving location, but the life on land is no less astonishing and it really comes alive at night.  In December 2011, I assisted seabird expert Graeme Taylor with his work on the migration of Buller’s Shearwaters.  This species of petrel breeds… Read more »

Fossils uncovered!

Normally fossils are found in the field but in this case Te Papa technicians and I have been rediscovering an early accumulation of fossil reptiles and fish held in Te Papa’s collections that have not been examined for decades. When the Colonial Museum opened in 1865, the Director James Hector, wanted to show New Zealanders… Read more »

The deluge and the ark

Curator of Fossil Vertebrates, Alan Tennyson, excavating the St Bathans site in Otago. Image copyright Te Papa

By Chris Paulin and Alan Tennyson Recently, a group of researchers in New Zealand suggested that the absence of fossils between 25 and 22 million years ago indicated that the islands completely disappeared under water, and then later re-emerged. But a newly discovered fossil reptile suggests this theory does not hold water. Alan Tennyson, Curator… Read more »