Posts written by Susan Waugh

Penguin babies get a weigh-in

  • Dre from Picton holds a baby penguin at Motuara Island.
  • The research hut at Motuara Island is equipped for workers to stay as well as store equipment and food. Photo: Adelie Filippi, Copyright Te Papa.
  • This little penguin chick was very calm and composed during the weight and measure session, and got a little tickle on the head on his way back to the burrow. Photo: Susan Waugh; Copyright Te Papa.
  • Camp duties at Motuara Island for our teen scientists. Photo: Susan Waugh; Copyright Te Papa.

This year’s Te Papa Little Penguin research programme was focussed at Motuara Island in Queen Charlotte Sound, just out of Picton, where there is a population of several hundred little penguins that breed between August and December. We deployed GPS trackers on adult birds throughout their breeding season to find out their main foraging areas. This year our team… Read more »

Our little penguin research continues this year as the team returned to Motuara Island in Marlborough (see the 2014 Te Papa penguin blogs for more about last year’s research). The penguins nesting at this site benefit from a predator free nesting habitat, shared with a number of land- and sea-birds. As one of the sites open… Read more »

Colossal Squid #2: Update

squid eye

Te Papa’s second colossal squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, is part of the displays for the upcoming Te Papa Open House on 25th July 2015 – a part of the 150th celebrations for the Wellington City as capital of New Zealand. The squid was caught in the Ross Sea in early 2014, by Captain John Bennett on board the San Aspiring,… Read more »

Travels with Betsy – the zine!

Download Travels with Betsy zine

During December 2014, artist and designer Kerry-Ann Lee ran workshops at Te Papa to teach the art of ‘zine-making’. Zines are a sort of hand-crafted vehicle for the ideas and imagination of writers and artists. Working with a local designer, Vera Padhila, and with the story of our recent work profiling the scientific research programme… Read more »

Travels with Betsy – exploring the world of albatross personality

  • A discussion in the field hut around the days activities. Betsy was a keen contributor to how we developed our testing regime. Left to right: Research assistants Tim Poepart, Julien Collet and CNRS researcher Dr Samantha Patrick. Image: Susan Waugh; Copyright: Te Papa.
  • Samantha Patrick, CNRS research repairs Betsy after a particularly intense interaction with a 'bold' albatross. Image: Susan Waugh; Copyright: Te Papa.
  • A birds with a more 'bold' response to meeting Betsy, clacks its bill and grumbles as Betsy is pulled away. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright: Te Papa.
  • Research assistant Julien Collet presents Betsy to an unsuspecting albatross on the nest. Photo: Susan Waugh. Copyright: Te Papa.

Do albatrosses have personalities? And if so, how do scientists measure such intangible characteristics? This blog provides some of the background to research Te Papa scientists were involved in, examining how birds use their environment, and how individual personality traits of these birds can be measured. The previous blogs on this topic can be accessed here…. Read more »

Westland Petrels weathering the storm…mostly!

  • Tree fallen in the Westland Petrel colony showing a petrel burrow inspection lid (white object 1/2 buried in the ground) amongst the uprooted roots of the tree. Image Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • Viewed from the screen of the burrow-scope we get a clear view of the petrel chick inside the burrow. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright Te Papa.
  • A classic sign of petrel activity in the mud-stone of Westland's Punakaiki coast. Birds climbing up the steep terrain make claw-marks in the soft substrate. This bedrock also proves a slippery base for the overlying topsoil, which has slipped off in large areas in and around the Westland Petrel colonies monitored by Te Papa researchers in 2014. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • A juvenile Westland petrel. We banded all young birds at the study colony, to track their survival to recruitment to the breeding population in 4-5 years time. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright, Te Papa.

New Zealand has an amazing diversity of seabirds. Around 1/3 of the worlds 348 species are found in New Zealand waters, with a high number of endemic and threatened species among them. Te Papa has a long-term research programme on Westland Petrels, a species that nests in the coastal cliffs near Punakaiki, on the West… Read more »