A few years ago, our Vertebrate Curators Alan Tennyson and Colin Miskelly challenged Te Papa’s geneticist Lara Shepherd to identify a couple of penguin heads recovered from Antarctic toothfish stomachs. This year, Colin had another penguin puzzle for Lara to solve – what species was the headless penguin he found on a remote Rakiura | Stewart Island beach?
In August last year a small green pigeon flew across the Tasman Sea – and into the history books. It became the first vagrant bird species to be intercepted at the New Zealand border and put down as a potential biosecurity risk. Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly tells the unfortunate story of New Zealand’s first rose-crowned fruit-dove.
About three years ago, vertebrate curator Colin Miskelly made the ‘rash’ claim that the best bet for seeing a crabeater seal in New Zealand was to visit the mouth of the Hutt River in Wellington Harbour – and wait approximately 25 years. But one showed up there a few days ago. Colin gives his thoughts on why they come here.
In late March 2015, a crabeater seal swam up the Hutt River (which flows into Wellington Harbour) and died. It was a remarkable occurrence – the crabeater seal is an Antarctic species rarely recorded in New Zealand – but no-one realised at the time that this was precisely the place