Shelley, congratulations on your very impressive prospectus. Best wishes for your own work on the freshwater environs.
50 degrees south and discover
its hidden secrets
The altercation with the Sea Lion described in my previous blog prompted my reflection upon how the environment mediates human social relationships. It also disrupted our plans. Leaving the veg plots for a day we encountered this creature en-route to one of the islands’ peaks, Mt Paris, where we planned to retake photographs of the landscape pictured in 1907 by the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury. Focused, as we were, on getting around this Bull we mistook a Sea Lion track for the human track. 30 minutes later, after scrabbling on our hands and knees through the Dracophyllum, we rejoined the track and continued on to climb Mt Paris and complete our assignment.
Humans are not the only track makers on this island and one can easily mistake a human track for an Albatross ‘highway’ or one of the Sea Lion tracks that weave across the entire island. (Sea Lions use the WHOLE island and have been found at the top of Mt Honey—the island’s highest peak at 558 metres above sea level). These animals use human tracks too and it is on the tracks that we have many close encounters with the island’s wildlife: we see becalmed Albatross following human tracks cut into the Dracophyllum back to their nest sites, bump into Hoiho going in the opposite direction, and become participants in Pipits’ games of chase as they hop along the tracks a few steps ahead of us for extended periods before hopping off to the side and allowing us to continue on our way.
Decreased human use of much of the island coupled with the extensive regeneration that has taken place since the eradication of sheep, many tracks are being taken over by megaherbs, tussocks and/or Dracophyllum. The reduced maintenance of human thoroughfares slows us down a little but the extent of my interactions with the island’s animal inhabitants in these passages prompts me to ponder: would island animals be in favour of track maintenance?