Fish research team en route for the cold waters of the Sub Antarctic Islands

Fish research team en route for the cold waters of the Sub Antarctic Islands

It’s only about three years I have been living in New Zealand and there is still plenty to learn about the country. But one thing I already know for sure, it’s that February is the best month in the year to enjoy good sun, low winds and warm weather. It might actually be the only one! So I am starting to think that I might be a little bit insane to plan a survey down the Sub Antarctic islands, right in the middle of February. Of course there is a very good reason to do this, but it comes at the cost of abandoning my dreams of diving warm waters this summer.

Map showing the sampling locations already achieved (green) and the two locations still to be sampled (red).

February is supposedly the best month of the year and this should also apply to the Auckland Islands where we will be studying the taxonomy, ecology and behaviour of the fish fauna in cold and deep waters. With the use of our video systems, we are going to film the never filmed before: the deep-sea fauna of those very wild and remote islands.

The Auckland Islands are located at 51°S, about 500 km south of Invercargill and are basically lost in the middle of the Ocean. The group of islands is 43 km long by 24 km wide. The first stretch of land on the West is the tip of South America, some 8000 km away. The first land on the East is actually also South America, and is not closer. This means that winds, rarely dropping under 60 km/h, and sea state can be remarkably unfriendly in the Auckland Islands, with no protection from land for thousands of kilometres. Now you start understanding why I am ready to give up on some mainland New Zealand warmth, in the hope of having acceptable conditions to deploy our video systems.

The MV Tranquil Image is being loaded with scientific gear in Tauranga
Working deck of the MV Tranquil Image crowded with all the scientific equipment used to study fish diversity and behaviour.
A video unit being hauled back after having filmed the fish fauna off the Kermadec Islands at 1200m depth (May 2011).

During this survey, we will also stop by around the Otago Peninsula to do similar work. We will sample the deep canyons up to 1200 m, learning more about fish diversity and behaviour in the area.

In one day, our boat the MV Tranquil Image will be in Wellington and we will be departing.

Speak to you soon,


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