Posts categorized as Reptiles

Anthony Hume Whitaker, MNZM (1944–2014) – a tribute

  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • McGregor’s skink (Oligosoma macgregori), and Sail Rock viewed from Dragon Mouth Cove, Taranga (Hen Island). Tony Whitaker found McGregor’s skink to be present on Sail Rock during landings there in January 1969 and March 1971. McGregor’s skinks from Sail Rock were translocated to nearby Lady Alice and Whatupuke Islands after Pacific rats were eradicated on both islands. Images: Colin Miskelly
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Tony Whitaker (centre) with Department of Conservation staff Ian Cooksley and Mark Townsend during a ‘pre-rat-eradication’ lizard survey on Kapiti Island, May 1995. Image: Colin Miskelly

Tony Whitaker (or ‘Whit’ to his many friends) was the godfather of modern herpetology in New Zealand. Following more than half a century of fieldwork to the remotest corners of New Zealand, there were few lizard species that he had not seen, nor lizard researchers that he had not cheerfully assisted. Tony’s passion for, and… Read more »

Science Live: Expedition Snares Island for teachers

The rugged western cliffs of North-East Iland. Rising to over 120m - 06 Dec 2013. Photo Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.jpg

You may have seen on our blog that our next instalment of Science Live is happening on March 18. This episode will focus on Te Papa scientists’ recent trip to Snares Islands, about 200km south of Fiordland. Science Live is great way for teachers and students to learn about some of the important scientific work… Read more »

Reptiles of Taranga (Hen Island) and nearby islands

  • McGregor's skink, Mana Island. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Copper skink, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Common gecko, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Shore skink, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s Curator of Terrestrial Vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly visited Taranga for a week in December 2010 as part of his research into the life and fieldwork of the naturalist Edgar Stead. Here, Colin describes the reptiles found on the island, along with reptile records from surrounding islands, and the potential for reptile recovery and… Read more »

Reptiles of the Poor Knights Islands

  • Suter's skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Moko skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Shore skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Hardy's skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly recently visited the Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve, off the Northland coast, as part of a research team tracking the at-sea movements of Buller’s shearwaters. The project is led by Graeme Taylor of the Department of Conservation, and is intended to identify the marine environments used… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 2) – subterranean Poor Knights Islands

  • Flax snail (Placostylus hongii) inside a shearwater burrow on Aorangi Island, as viewed through a burrowscope. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flax snail (Placostylus hongii) inside a shearwater burrow on Aorangi Island, as viewed through a burrowscope. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Two fully-grown kingfisher chicks inside their burrow on Aorangi Island, viewed through a burrowscope. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Kingfisher burrow entrance, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly recently visited the Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve, off the Northland coast, as part of a research team tracking the at-sea movements of Buller’s shearwaters. The project is led by Graeme Taylor of the Department of Conservation, and is intended to identify the marine environments used… Read more »

Critters of Titi Island Nature Reserve, Marlborough Sounds

  • The carnivorous snail Rhytida stephenensis on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Sarah Jamieson eyeballing one of several holes chewed through her bedroll by ground weta on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Ground weta (Hemiandrus sp.) on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Female Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens) on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Titi Island is a 32-ha reserve administered by the Department of Conservation and situated in the outer Marlborough Sounds. The island’s fauna was impacted by introduced Norway rats until these were eradicated in the early 1970s. The island has since been free of all introduced predators. Two species of large flightless insects plus tuatara were… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens – subterranean Titi Island

  • Tuatara inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Little penguin inside a burrow on Titi Island.  Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Sooty shearwater inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flesh-footed shearwater inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

By Sarah Jamieson & Colin Miskelly Over the past two (southern hemisphere) summers, Te Papa seabird researchers have been investigating population trends and foraging behaviour of flesh-footed shearwaters. These all-dark seabirds are well known to recreational fishers around the North Island and in Cook Strait, as the birds have the annoying habit of sitting behind… Read more »

Green Island (Papatea) – 1941 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 8)

  • New Zealand fur seal cows and pups on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Geckos (Woodworthia 'Otago large') on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Fernbird photographed on Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Brown creeper on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

A gift of lizards – 35 years to completion

  • Te Papa’s reptile and frog collection is mainly comprised of specimens preserved in ethanol, housed in the purpose-built off-site Spirit Collection Area. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.
  • Black-eyed gecko (Mokopirirakau kahuturae) holotype, ex Ecology Division collection. Te Papa specimen number RE.001817, collected by A.H. (Tony) Whitaker at Kahutara Saddle, Seaward Kaikoura Range, on 26 June 1970. Image: Te Papa
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri) holotype, ex Ecology Division collection. Te Papa specimen number RE.001817, collected by A.H. (Tony) Whitaker on Middle Island, Mercury Islands, on 26 June 1970. Image: Te Papa
  • Te Papa’s reptile and frog collection is mainly comprised of specimens preserved in ethanol, housed in the purpose-built off-site Spirit Collection Area. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.

The New Zealand science community was quite different in 1977 compared to 2012. Most government scientists then worked for one of the many divisions of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), our reserve networks and protected species were administered by multiple agencies, and the national museum was known as …the National Museum. All this… Read more »