Posts written by Colin Miskelly

Re-articulation of Phar Lap’s skeleton – bold decisions and expert advice

  • How to mount a horse? Hayden Prujean and Alex Davies discuss the re-articulation of Phar Lap's skeleton. Photo: Te Papa
  • Robert Clendon and Dr Alex Davies discuss the positioning of Phar Lap's left forelimb and scapular. Photo: Te Papa
  • Dr Alex Davies checks the positioning of Phar Lap's thoracic vertebrae. Photo: Te Papa
  • Phar Lap's trunk skeleton imposed on a life-sized image of the mounted skin held in Melbourne Museum. Photo: Te Papa

Phar Lap’s skeleton is one of Te Papa’s best known exhibits. Perhaps the most famous horse ever to emerge from Australasia, the national identity of Phar Lap is as intensely debated each side of the Tasman as is who invented the pavlova. Foaled at Seadown, near Timaru, in 1926, Phar Lap was bought by the… Read more »

What bird is that? The grim task of identifying seabirds killed by the M.V. Rena oil spill

  • Cause and effect. Dead Buller's shearwaters spell the name of the Rena, with 2 northern giant petrels to the left, and rows of fluttering shearwaters and diving petrels above. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Karen and Lucy with oiled seabirds inside the pathology tent. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly (Te Papa's Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates) with a heavily olied northern giant petrel. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Fluttering shearwaters coated in oil from the M.V. Rena. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa bird staff are providing expert assistance to Maritime New Zealand and Massey University veterinary staff in the form of identifying birds affected by the oil spill. Three current and one former staff member have been a ‘tag team’ since 12 October, identifying the hundreds of corpses recovered by the teams patrolling the beaches,… Read more »

The global penguin – Part 8. Free at last!

  • King penguins on South Georgia. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Monument Harbour on the south coast of Campbell Island. Jacquemart Island (partly concealed by Eboule Peninsula) is the southernmost piece of New Zealand sovereign territory. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • The emperor penguin about to leave his crate and return to the sea. Photo: NIWA
  • So long and thanks for all the fish! The emperor penguin returns to the ocean. Photo: Lisa Argilla, Wellington Zoo

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly tells the eighth instalment of the unfolding story of the emperor penguin that went where none had gone before (at least in the age of digital media). Previous blogs on the penguin were posted between 23 June and 29 August. Seventy-six days after he stepped ashore… Read more »

A Te Papa curator in Ecuador

Waved albatross adult brooding a small chick on Isla de la Plata, Ecuador, on 27 August 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Colin Miskelly is in Guayaquil as the expert advisor to the New Zealand delegation at the 6th ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels) meeting, and has provided this report. The ACAP meeting has been a great opportunity to meet with albatross researchers and conservation workers from… Read more »

Riders of the storm – thousands of seabirds perish on New Zealand shores

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  • Fig. 7. The calm before the storm – healthy broad-billed prions on Kundy Island, off Stewart Island, March 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly
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  • Fig. 5. Beach-wrecked broad-billed prions, Paekakariki (Wellington west coast), 16 July 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly

It started as a trickle and soon developed into a flood of devastating proportions. On 11 July 2011 I received an email enquiry from a family at Waikanae seeking help with identifying an unusual seabird that they had found dead on their driveway. It was a Salvin’s prion, a not-too-unexpected discovery near the coast during… Read more »