Posts categorized as Science

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 »

We know what you did this summer!!

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Bart Cox and Jasmine Gibbins spent their summer researching native orchids at Te Papa. Bart and Jasmine are part of a group of seven students from Victoria University of Wellington that were awarded a Summer Research Scholarship co-funded by Te Papa and Victoria University of Wellington. Bart’s research focused on a threatened perching orchid, Drymoanthus flavus, and its… 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 »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 4) – subterranean Ohinau Island

  • A fluttering shearwater chick inside its burrow on Ohinau-iti Island. Image: Robyn Blyth
  • A Mercury Island tusked weta inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fluttering shearwater egg in a burrow on a stack off Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on what the team found living underground on the island. As described in previous blogs in this series, a burrowscope is a high-tech tool… Read more »

New Zealand has a popular paddle crab (scientific name Ovalipes catharus) found at sandy beaches all round the country and often in fish shops, sometimes alive. I talked about paddle crabs and why they’re important during December’s episode of Science Live, Coastal Creatures.  Paddle crabs or swimming crabs are named for their back pair of legs which… Read more »

Critters of Ohinau Island

  • Close-up of the tusks of a male Mercury Island tusked weta, showing the ridges that are rubbed together to create sound. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A pair of Mercury Island tusked weta on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. The large male (with tusks) is on the left; the long appendage at the rear of the female is her ovipositor, used to lay eggs in the soil. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The entire range of Mercury Island tusked weta. This rare species survived only on 13 ha Middle Island, the small island left of centre in this image. Following eradications of Pacific rats (kiore) on nearby larger islands, they were successfully translocated to Cuvier Island (on the distant horizon), Korapuki Island (immediately below Cuvier Island, and to the lower right of Great Mercury Island), Stanley Island (the large island to the right of Middle Island), the western end of Double Island (which appears as two small islands to the right of Stanley Island), Red Mercury Island (the long, low island on the right), and Ohinau Island (foreground). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • An adult male Mercury Island tusked wets (Motuweta isolata) on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on some of the more impressive invertebrate species that he found on the island. Ohinau is a 43 ha forested island owned by Ngati… Read more »