Posts categorized as Science

Cap Cotter and the macaroni penguins

  • Macaroni penguins, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Wandering albatrosses displaying, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Kerguelen shag, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Royal penguin, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

The name ‘macaroni’ to most people means short, curved tubes of hollow pasta, or they may have recollections of Yankee Doodle Dandy sticking a feather in his cap. However, bird enthusiasts associate the name with one of the larger species of crested penguin that breeds at remote sites in the South Atlantic and southern Indian… 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 »

Arrival at Iles Kerguelen

  • Squirrel with Igloo hut, Isles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Antarctic prion, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Squirrel helicopter and Mont Ross, Isles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Wandering albatross, southern Indian Ocean. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Our passage from Crozet east to Kerguelen was uncharacteristically calm. For two days barely a white-cap was to be seen, and the sun set on a clear horizon, producing a vivid green flash as it disappeared. The conditions were ideal for whale spotting, but we saw very few until late on the third day, when… Read more »

Two days on Ile de la Possession, Crozet Islands

  • Courting wandering albatrosses, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Gentoo penguin greeting display, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Northern giant petrel chick, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • King penguin colony, Baie du Marin, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

The Crozet Islands are one of three subantarctic island groups in the southern Indian Ocean that together form the ‘Terres Australes’ of the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF). They are large islands (though much smaller than Kerguelen, which we visited next), with the two largest islands both exceeding 13,000 ha (in contrast, Campbell Island… Read more »

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 »

Being a botanist: Q&A with students from South Wellington Intermediate School

Drawing a plant

Last week I was invited to give a talk at my son’s class at South Wellington Intermediate School (SWIS) about what it is like to be a botanist at Te Papa. To help me prepare, the students wrote down questions they had about botany or being a botanist. Their questions got me thinking about how… Read more »