Down the microscope, the jar of seawater and zooplankton that Helen collected off the back of the ship has revealed larval jellyfish, tiny crabs, sea lice and microscopic organisms – things like ostracods, copepods and chaetognaths.These animals are all clues to how the wider Kermadecs marine ecosystem works.
This morning, I went snorkeling around the Meyer Islands – a small island group just off Raoul Island – with the expedition scientists. Libby Liggins, Clinton Duffy and Stephen Ullrich were collecting seaweeds, corals and starfish and Helen Bostock was hoping to gather some marine sediment.I saw a bright yellow grey drummer, a yellow banded perch, lots of blue maomao, and then Clinton’s Galapagos shark buddies came along.
“Whales on the starboard bow,” was piped throughout the ship this morning. Rochelle Constantine, a marine mammal specialist from the University of Auckland, raced to the armory to get her biopsy gun and camera.
Kermadec petrels ( Pterodroma neglecta ) and Kermadec white-faced storm petrels ( Pelagodroma marina albiclunis ) have been landing on the deck of the ship.
Today, we circumnavigated the island in a RHIB, looking for dolphins and hoping for a few whale sightings. There was no sign of the little dolphin pod that greeted us the day we arrived and no whale signs but we’ll keep looking – people on Raoul island have been seeing whales every day.In the evening, Clinton Duffy was back to fishing for Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) from the stern ramp of the HMNZS Canterbury.
What was I saying about science and serendipity? On Thursday we had an unexpected haul of pumice fresh from an underwater volcanic eruption. Last night we went fishing for Galapagos sharks and found something better.Clinton Duffy, Department of Conservation shark biologist, is here to study Galapagos sharks, one of the top predators in the Kermadecs.
Last night, when Lieutenant Tim Oscar, the Officer of the Watch arrived at the bridge for his midnight to 4am shift (seriously, that's what they do, all the lights on the bridge are turned off and they watch the sea) he noticed something strange.
I went outside at first light and found the ship in the middle of a heaving grey sea, with nothing but ocean and sky in every direction. Three dark-winged birds – probably petrels – swooped and dived amongst the waves.
“You can’t escape the geology in New Zealand,” said Helen Bostock, a marine geologist on the voyage. “It’s in your face whether you like it or not.”It’s true.