The long walk to Port aux Français

  • Antarctic fur seals mating. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Ratmanoff king penguins. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Inquisitive gentoo penguins. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Long-tailed skua (top right), Antarctic tern and the CNES radar ball, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Snow blanketed the ground when we awoke on Boxing Day, though it had largely melted before we left camp about 2:30 pm, to start the walk east to Cap Noir. Our task for the day (and the next) was to count Antarctic fur seal pups, and also any vagrant subantarctic fur seal bulls. Fur seals… Read more »

Christmas among macaroni penguins

  • Macaroni penguin with GPS logger attached. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Mont Campbell Pringlea. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Charly Bost, Colin Miskelly and Côme Rebaudet at the summit of Mont Campbell. Image by Charly Bost, copyright IPEV
  • Christmas eve at Cap Cotter. Image by Charly Bost, copyright IPEV

The reason for our visit to Cap Cotter was to continue Charly Bost’s long-term studies of the macaroni penguins. During our 1-week stay we undertook five separate projects, beginning with attaching GPS loggers and dive time/depth recorders to eight breeding females. Like most crested penguins, macaroni penguins are highly synchronous breeders. In late December most… Read more »

Wineera family portrait : A picture tells a thousand words.

  • Wi Mekerei Rawiri
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A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDS Stories from He iti whetū : Ngāti Toa portraits. Ngā Toi Arts Te Papa: Kanohi Kitea Māori & Pacific Encounters   This family portrait from the turn of last century is a remarkable and striking statement about family and identity. Titled Ko mātou me ā mātou tamariki, mokopuna hoki, or ‘Ourselves, our children and grandchildren’, this collection… Read more »

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 »

Ngā Toi Christmas Quiz: The Winner!

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The great Ngā Toi Christmas Quiz has a truly triumphant winner, Vivienne Morrell, of Wellington. She wins a Te Papa voucher, wine and Belgian chocolates, a pretty cool combination. Her set of answers was little short of brilliant: she only struggled with part of one question, which was fiendishly difficult anyway. Congratulations, Vivienne! Now, here’s a question for all of you: would you like more quizzes… 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 »

Barry Brickell (1935-2016)

[Barry Brickell], 1956, Auckland, by Steve Rumsey. Purchased 1998. Te Papa (F.009393)

It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to an extraordinary New Zealander – potter, artist, railway enthusiast, conservationist and a self confessed ‘practical visionary’. Our condolences go to Barry’s family and many friends. Barry was a second generation studio potter, following the pioneering achievements of potters including Len Castle who mentored Barry as a… 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 »

Reunion Island to Crozet Islands

  • Marion Dufresne
  • Les fromage du Marion Dufresne. Image Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Empty ocean – sunset over the southern Indian Ocean. Image Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Wandering albatross (female). Image Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Even after sending reams of (French) documents to the Institute Polar Emile Victor (IPEV) over the past six months, I had a slight unease that I would arrive at the security gate at Le Port (Reunion Island) and discover that I was not on the passenger manifesto for the Marion Dufresne. But my fears were… Read more »