Posts written by Susan Waugh

Flesh-footed Shearwater Surveys at Ohinau Island, Coromandel

  • DSC_0532_vsm
  • FFSW
  • Fishing vessel
  • GPS track of FFSW

Keeping track of our protected species populations and their distribution is one of the tasks of biologists, and this summer Te Papa scientists surveyed sites in the Mercury Islands group for seabird populations. Flesh-footed shearwaters Puffinus carneipes breed throughout northern New Zealand, with a total population size in New Zealand of about 10,000 to 15,000 pairs… Read more »

A Day in the Life of a Natural History Curator – the intern’s view!

  • Westland Petrel at the breeding colony near Punakaiki, Westland. Photo, Lara Shepherd.
  • This box contained the bones of a sea lion found at the Chatham Islands. Photo, Mathilde Meheut.
  • Mathilde helped to handle petrels during the deployment of GPS loggers. The logger is visible taped on to the birds back feathers with brown   sticky tape. Photo, Susan Waugh
  • A miniature GPS logger used by scientists to follow the movements of Westland Petrels at sea. Mathilde helped with note-taking and field work. Another specialist writing job for Te Papa! Photo, Susan Waugh.

I’m Mathilde Meheut, a French biology student travelling in New Zealand who had the chance to do some voluntary work at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. In this blog, I’ll tell you about some of the work I got involved in at Te Papa during a few weeks in June and July… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 6. Terres Inconnues

  • Researchers and logistical support staff unload scientific equipment at the Base at the Crozet Islands in preparation for the field campaign of 2013. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.
  • The field accommodation at Pointe Basse albatross colony can house 6-8 researchers, and is well stocked with provisions to allow monitoring of the colony during ciritical periods throughout the year. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.
  • Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans tracks from Crozet Islands, tracked during our study in the incubation period, March 2013. The pink track is a female, the blue a male.
  • Betsy takes a rest in the albatross colony as a group of young wandering albatross display in the back-ground]. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.

Here at the Crozet Islands most remote field Cabin, Pointe Basse, we’re conducting a study of the personality of albatrosses, and linking their behaviour at sea with those we can measure at the nest. We’re doing this with the aid of an inflatable blue cow, named Betsy. Betsy helps us in testing how nesting birds… Read more »

Above the treeline at 0m altitude

  • Acaena magellanica growing in a dense sward at Pointe Basse, Possession Island. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.
  • Moss forming ridges across a low hill at Pointe Basse. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.
  • Poa cookii surrounding an albatross nest in a field dominated by Acaena magellanica. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.
  • Moss mats and stream near Pointe Basse. Photo: Susan Waugh, Courtesy of Susan Waugh.

Here at the Crozet Islands in the Southern Indian Ocean, at 41 deg S, we’re well north of what is considered ‘inhabitable’ territory in the Pacific Ocean. However, in comparison this far-flung corner of France, midway between Africa and West Australia, Madagascar and Antarctica, where the waters are cooler and the air is moister, the… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 4. Le Champ des Albatros

Sam Patrick and Julien Collet discuss results from personality tests, assisted by Betsy, the blue test cow. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa.

Here at the haut lieu of albatross biology – Le Champ des Albatros, Crozet Islands the main study site for Wandering Albatrosses in the French Southern Territories, we have now done a round of all the behaviour testing, GPS deployments and nest checks that await us over the next month. We arrived a week ago,… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 3. Arriving at the Crozet Islands

  • Aceanas and rusty relics at Crozet Islands. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • French Research Base Alfred Faure at the Crozet Islands. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • Sheathbill at Baie du Marin. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • Unloading at Baie du Marin, Crozet Islands. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa

After a days delay while we took part in an exercise involving the French Navy, we finally sighted the Crozet Islands as the sun cast its water rays over a cold deep blue-grey sea. Suddenly the bird life around the boat changed from the occasional white-chinned petrel and wandering albatross, to flights of little prions,… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 2. Tropical waters

  • Flying fish in the waters of 29 deg S. Image: Julian Collet, © Julian
  • Barau’s Petrel one day south of Reunion Island. Image: Julian Collet, © Julian Collet
  • Julien Collet CNRS Research Assistant keeps an eye out for whales and seabirds from the top deck of the Marion Dufresne. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • Lieutenant Iulia Popescu of the Marion Dufresne checks our position at the chart table.

Our visit to the Crozet Islands, a French Sub-Antarctic nature reserve at 41 deg S in the Indian Ocean started yesterday, embarking on the RV Marion Dufresne. We’re steaming straight south from La Reunion, towards the Crozet Islands, with landfall due in about 6 days. Overnight we made good steaming with an average speed of… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 1. Departing La Reunion for the Crozet Islands

  • Scientists Boarding Marion du Fresne. Image: Susan Waugh, (C) Te Papa.
  • Samantha Patrick CNRS Researcher on board RV Marion du Fresne. Image: Susan Waugh, (C) Te Papa.
  • Marion du Fresne and local boy at port in St Denis La Reunion. Image: Susan Waugh, (C) Te Papa.
  • Departure Board of the Marion Du Fresne. Image: Susan Waugh, (C) Te Papa

A two-month long research programme is getting underway for Te Papa Senior Curator Dr Susan Waugh, in collaboration with the French CNRS Research Institute and Polar Institute (IPEV). Susan departs from La Reunion on February 7th to take part in a programme of work on the personality of Albatrosses on the Crozet Islands. Departure Board… Read more »

Westland Petrels circumnavigate South Island

  • Westland Petrel field team having a moment enjoying the rain
  • Westland Petrel foraging trip, June 2012
  • Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica
  • BirdLife's Mark Fuller and Susan Waugh from Te Papa deploy a gps logger on Westland Petrel Procellaria Westlandica

Te Papa scientists Dr Susan Waugh and Dr Lara Shepherd recently completed a study of foraging movements of Westland Petrels. The birds were studied in 2 years and during 3 parts of the breeding season (pre-breeding, incubation and chick-rearing). This gave great insights into which ocean areas the birds are using, and where they concentrate… Read more »