Posts written by Colin Miskelly

Sir James Hector and the Kerguelen connection

  • Lyallia kerguelensis, Ile Mayes, Iles Kerguelen. Image: Colin Miskelly, IPEV / Te Papa
  • Hectorella caespitosa, Sealy Range, Southern Alps. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Commerson's dolphin, Golfe du Morbihan, Iles Kerguelen. Image: Colin Miskelly, IPEV / Te Papa
  • Hector’s dolphin. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

The Kerguelen Islands are among the most remote islands on the planet, lying in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean about 7300 km west of New Zealand (or 17,000 km east if you prefer). Yet they have at least two unlikely connections with New Zealand – a plant and a dolphin. And both are… Read more »

The mysterious attraction of the Hutt River to crabeater seals

  • Crabeater seal, Melling, Lower Hutt, July 1934. Image: John Salmon, Te Papa image MA_A.000173
  • Weddell seal, Napier, June 2007. Image: Department of Conservation
  • Ross seal, Paekakariki, September 2002. Image: Department of Conservation
  • Crabeater seal beside the Hutt River, March 2015. Image: Anneke Mace, Department of Conservation

In late March 2015, a crabeater seal swam up the Hutt River (which flows into Wellington Harbour) and died. It was a remarkable occurrence – the crabeater seal is an Antarctic species rarely recorded in New Zealand – but no-one realised at the time that this was precisely the place in New Zealand where a… Read more »

A glimpse of ancient Mauritius: Ile aux Aigrettes, restoration island

  • White-tailed tropicbird chick being hand-fed, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Mauritius fodies: male (left) and female (right), Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Pink pigeon, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Telfair's skink, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

I first heard of Ile aux Aigrettes at a conference on island pest eradications held in Auckland in early 2001. A delegate from Mauritius spoke about a failed attempt to eradicate Indian musk shrews from the 25 ha island, which had already been cleared of feral cats and ship rats. The island next registered in… Read more »

Once were dodos

  • Dodo statue, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Mauritius kestrel. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Pink pigeon. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • What am I

The dodo is the world’s most famous extinct bird. Its quirky appearance makes it instantly recognisable in popular culture, including in classics such as Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and the animated short film ‘Ice Age’. One of the reasons it is so well known is that it is considered to be the first… Read more »

Deep science

  • Consigned to the deep. A dead-weight is dropped from the stern of the Marion Dufresne. The silver cylinder to the left is the acoustically-triggered release device, with the kilometres-long tether disappearing further to the left. Images by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • The rack of hydrological survey bottles being lowered (left) and returning to the surface (right). Images by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Tropical cyclone Corentin. The red line shows the original course that the Marion Dufresne was supposed to take. Image copyright IPEV
  • Consigned to the deep. A dead-weight is dropped from the stern of the Marion Dufresne. The silver cylinder to the left is the acoustically-triggered release device, with the kilometres-long tether disappearing further to the left. Images by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Our return voyage on the Marion Dufresne was very different from the voyage south. The first voyage was for logistics resupply, and delivery (and uplift) of personnel, plus we had twelve fare-paying tourists on board. The voyage back was an oceanographic survey voyage. There were a similar number of passengers on board (47), but more… Read more »

The petrels of Ile aux Cochons, Iles Kerguelen

  • Prions
  • South Georgian diving petrel exiting its breeding burrow, Ile aux Cochons, Iles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Antarctic prion, Ile aux Cochons, Iles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • South Georgian diving petrel with leg-band-mounted GLS tag, Ile aux Cochons, Iles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

The purpose of our visit to Ile aux Cochons* was to undertake a pilot study of the foraging ecology and at-sea distribution of South Georgian diving petrels (’jojos’) to compare with the closely related (and similar-looking) common diving petrels (’plon plons’) that we had studied on Ile Mayes the previous week. The two islands are… Read more »