Science Live: Expedition Snares Island

Science Live: Expedition Snares Island

100 kilometres south of Stewart Island, a small group of rocky islands jut abruptly from the surface of the ocean.

These islands, wreathed in sea spray and surrounded by large cliffs, are known as the Snares Islands, and for a fortnight were home to four Te Papa scientists.

The Snares Islands are one of the most unspoilt areas of New Zealand, home to a wealth of plants and animals. Introduced land mammals, the scourge of native plants and birds on mainland New Zealand, never made it to the Snares, allowing flora and fauna to thrive relatively undisturbed. The Department of Conservation protects the islands and their wildlife, and landing on the islands is only possible with a special research permit.

This makes it an ideal place to study New Zealand’s biodiversity – and that’s exactly what our scientists did during their recent expedition. The team scoured the islands, counting populations and collecting samples (including feathers and blood) of different species, some of which are only found in this area.

The ornithologists were primarily counting seabird populations, to see how their numbers are doing compared to other New Zealand populations. Botanists were making collections of mosses, liverworts and lichens to study back at Te Papa. And samples collected for entomologists may even have resulted in the discovery of a new species!

Do you want to know more? Get involved!

So what exactly did Te Papa scientists do on the islands? How did they count millions of squawking seabirds? What new species were found? And what in the world is Cook’s scurvy grass?!

The next exciting instalment of Science Live will answer these questions – and yours!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be releasing videos of our scientists working on the islands, and blogging about their time there.

On 18th March, we’ll broadcast live from Te Papa – so you can ask your questions!

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