Posts categorized as Mammals

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 »

Very rare indeed: a Malawian dance garment

  • Hair fibers from each respective sampled area, GH024606; shown at 200x magnification. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • GH024606, detail of skins used to make the garment. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • Images of hair fibers removed from GH024606 showing exterior scale patterning and the structure of the interior. Images by A. Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.

Witchy tale In 1936, the Dominion Museum was given a gift so rare and strange that it made the news.  Described in the Auckland Star and in museum records as a “witch doctor’s outfit”, the garment was subsequently displayed for many years in the Buckle St building that opened that same year.   During an… Read more »

A week on Ile Mayes, Iles Kerguelen

  • Commerson's dolphin
  • Mayes hut
  • Aymeric & Charly in hut
  • Light-mantled sooty albatrosses, Ile Mayes. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

After 36 hours at Port aux Français, it was time for Charly Bost and me to head into the field again. We were accompanied by Aymeric Fromant, another IPEV ‘VSC’ (Volontaire Service Civique) volunteer. There are a dozen such ‘volunteers’ on Kerguelen each year, with two (Côme Rebaudet and Aymeric Fromant in 2016) focused on… Read more »

Port aux Français

  • Amorous young male elephant seal, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Kerguelen shags, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands (from left to right: adult, juvenile, immature). Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Male Eaton’s pintail, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Kerguelen shags, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

We sailed into the Golfe du Morbihan at dawn on a cold, grey, drizzly day. The dozens of islands (including Mayes and Cochons that we will visit) were to port, and a flat, featureless land to starboard. The TAAF base (Port aux Français, PAF) is a scatter of about three dozen buildings, some old and… Read more »

Sir James Hector, Hector’s dolphin and Taniwhasaurus

  • The new species of Asplenium fern. Photograph by Leon Perrie, Te Papa
  • Dr James Hector, circa 1868, Wellington, by James Wrigglesworth. Purchased 1916. Te Papa (O.013163)
  • YCMW title 640px
  • Hector's dolphin. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Dolphin Trust

Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You Called Me What?! 150 years of scientific discovery at Te Papa’ will be open on Level 3 from late November 2015 until the end of 2016. The exhibition, and… Read more »