THE JOURNEY

Research Areas

Shelley McMurtrie
6 Jan 2014 - 17:07
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
50 Degrees South Trust, Spruce tree on Campbell Island

An unruly, wind-blown, 100-year-old spruce tree on subantarctic Campbell Island is possibly the world's loneliest tree. Veronika Meduna visited it earlier in December 2013 with Jonathan Palmer, who analysed its tree rings to study the...

Norm Judd
23 Jun 2012 - 11:30
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: Monument Harbour
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: The Maia in Monument Harbour
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: Six Foot Lake descent from Puiseux Peak
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: timber beam, monument harbour
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: timber beam, monument harbour
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: timber beam, monument harbour
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: timber beam, monument
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition: timber beam, monument harbour
WHAT THE CAMPBELL ISLAND BICENTENNIAL EXPEDITION (CIBE) FOUND IN 2011

In December 2010, and January and February 2011, the Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition, (CIBE) was on Campbell Island.  The cultural heritage team; archaeologists Steve Bagley and Nigel...

Norm Judd
12 Nov 2011 - 18:00
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition-lady of the heather ghost story
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition-lady of the heather ghost story
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition-lady of the heather ghost story
While we await the cultural heritage team’s report, I’ll entertain you with a yarn. 
 
I thought that this could be a ghost story: but that’s a populist approach and I don’t believe in ghosts.  There’s either a technical reason for what I’m about to tell you or the phenomenon was just simple coincidence.
 
When I first went to Campbell Island, my Dept. of Lands and Survey brief...
Carla Meurk
14 Feb 2011 - 19:29
Research Areas
Human Interactions
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition

Now that the team are back on the mainland it is time to consolidate our island research into publications. With respect to two of my projects data collection from Campbell constitutes one component of a wider research agenda requiring further empirical research. The first of these two projects focuses on the history and anthropology of scientific endeavour on Campbell and the influence of changing bureaucracies of science funding and management; the second will utilise a network analysis...

Alex Fergus
7 Feb 2011 - 20:11
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Clearing the nets
Cutting down nets
Folding the nets
Mountford 2008 Chardonnay
Mountford 2008 Chardonnay

60 days of snow, rain, hail and gale has pelted the six 3 metre long insect nets that I installed with Steve C., Carla and Jo’s help just south of the base after our arrival. Against the demons of weather, the nets have stood strong, no doubt due to the clever hand of the net constructor, my Ma, and her sewing machine.

For 2 months I have daily cleared the amassed invertebrate treasure, often with Carla’s assistance, and with Carla and Mark covering for me when I have...

Norm Judd
2 Feb 2011 - 20:32
Research Areas
Terrestrial EcologyHistory and Archaeology
The Bivvy - 1981
The Bivvy - 2011

Many of the historic sites that were easily seen in 1981 are now obscured by scrub and other vegetation. I have included two images here that show the rate of vegetative growth on Campbell Island over the last 30 years.

The first image is one I took on my 1981 visit to the island. It shows posts and a central pole of what may have been a small tent camp from the early farming era beginning 1895 – a site now known as the ‘Bivvy’. In the middle distance are two...

Norm Judd
26 Jan 2011 - 21:53
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Peat brick layer
Peat brick profile
Try works site

Yesterday the History Team of Steve, Nigel and Norm walked to a site believed to have once held a try pot or try pots for rendering seal or whale blubber. It’s not too far from Beeman Camp where we are staying and we are thankful for this as we still have lots of walking to do to finish our research projects by 4 February. (In addition, the average age for our team is 64.3 making ours the oldest team by far. We three agree our knees have seen better days and have talked about getting...

Alex Fergus
25 Jan 2011 - 20:35
Research Areas
The loneliest tree
An official beginning
My support team
The inner workings
Manoeuvring
Near the top
Top of main trunk
The tree top
The tree top
I was pretty chuffed
Whittaker’s celebration
I earned it
Trigonometric measure

I am the last person to ever ascend the loneliest tree in the world. I did this earlier today, and I am on a bit of a high as a result. I have joined a legion of eminent New Zealand naturalists, among them Sorensen (1945), Godley (1969) and Meurk (1975+) who have measured the height of the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) at Camp Cove. Lord Ranfurly planted the tree in 1907 and from the 1940’s onward it has been repeatedly measured, in part for posterity, in part because it is an...

Norm Judd
24 Jan 2011 - 21:42
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Timber pieces
Bottle

On 21 January, the History Team (Steve, Nigel and Norm) walked over to the North West Bay hut. This was our base for visiting nearby sites. In cold and blustery north easterlies the following day, we carefully traversed Sandy Bay avoiding ‘beach master’ sea lions (otherwise known in Met. Station terms as ‘monsters’) and then climbed 35 metres onto Complex Point. Pushing through tussock, ‘draco’ and fern, we arrived at the knoll at the end of the point....

Norm Judd
24 Jan 2011 - 21:27
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Cave below bluffs
Cave entrance
Bowl contents
Contents closeup
View from cave

I left you in my last blog crawling through the draco in search of Fred Blogg’s Cave above North East Harbour.

We sidled below the long line of bluffs and the cave soon appeared above us; a dark, overhanging cavern offering shelter from rain and wind and the floor was dry. On Campbell Island this is a boon.

In the centre of the cave floor sat a large alloy bowl, its alloy lid anchored by a large rock. After photographs and measurements we carefully removed the rock...

Shelley McMurtrie
21 Jan 2011 - 21:11
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
New plant record
Albatross on north face
Lunch time
On summit of Honey
Honey summit view
Matching photo points
Plant transect
Two tarns to sample
Tarn sampling

Today dawned in spectacular fashion with calm waters and not a cloud in the sky. Given the fine, windless day and the arrival of the Orion tourist ship, a planned trip up the Col Ridge with botanist Colin Meurk was soon changed to an ascent of Mt Honey from the north face, rather than the usual track up the west flank. Mount Honey is often covered in clag (low cloud) so we had to make...

Alex Fergus
21 Jan 2011 - 20:25
Research Areas
Hydra
My quarry
Chop
The scramble back

A Hydra writhed below my feet, waves’ crashed beyond my right shoulder, and somewhere high above me my pack hung off a ledge. This is adventure science in action, and easily exaggerated. With only 19 days left on the island we have to complete our field research program in less than ideal conditions. Jo, Colin and I have been at Penguin Bay this week collecting soils, plants and insects in order to study how the massive decline in Rockhopper Penguin numbers is influencing other...

Steve Bagley
20 Jan 2011 - 21:01
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
The old stove
GP
View from Farmhouse site
Tucker Cove Farmhouse

Yesterday I was at the Farmhouse site, which is tucked fairly snugly (as far as any place can be called snug on Campbell) into the gently sloping southern shore of Tucker Cove. Of course the house, woolshed and store shed are long gone and only the most durable bits and the stone structures such as the old boat haul-out give any sign that this was once the centre of life on the Island.

I was painting metal preservative on the old Shacklock ‘Orion’ stove under the...

Norm Judd
19 Jan 2011 - 20:25
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Nigel and Steve
Large sod hut in Tucker Cove

It’s interesting how one easily forgets feelings of dire dread. I’d tramped these island hills in all weathers; mapping and surveying historic sites on and off for over 30 years and the feeling of dread came to me then only once or twice - that I might not make it back to the warmth and comfort of the weather station. Now the station is automated, there is no staff - all cooking and heating facilities have been removed. We are actually camping inside a gutted building with the...

Shelley McMurtrie
17 Jan 2011 - 22:14
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
See video

With the Maia and our first term CIBE team members now safely in Bluff it is time to take a moment to reminisce about some of the trips that we have had in the first half of this expedition.

For me, I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for the Northwest Bay Hut. This may just be because it was the first hut we stayed in, but I also found it to have a lot of soul and a great view (and we all know with property it is all about the location and the view) that I have found...

Colin Meurk
15 Jan 2011 - 21:40
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Diminutive Comb Fern
Microherb
Flowers of a Mat Coprosma
Onion-leaved Orchid
Prasophyllum
Two Kiokio Fern Species
Two Kiokio Fern Species
Kiokio Fern

There are many things that draw people to studying and exploring nature. Just being able to experience the miracle of life in the course of your work is a great privilege – even if most of the time you are desk-bound and enveloped in the tedium of writing grant applications. Anyway, I digress. This is about those moments of personal and scientific discovery – finding something never known before. These can be grandiose theories and principles; but I get a thrill out of much...

Nigel Prickett
12 Jan 2011 - 19:34
Research Areas
History and Archaeology
Three whaling trypots
Three whaling trypots
View of Northeast Harbour
Shoreline stonework
A loose brick
Remnant of the wooden jetty
Looking down Northeast Harbour
The Maia at anchor

On a point at the head of Northeast Harbour on Campbell Island are well preserved remains of the 1911-14 Cook whaling station. The island was the last frontier of the New Zealand right whale industry, which began in the 1820s at Preservation Inlet and Te Awaiti, Tory Channel. In only a few years most stations brought to an end the ancient winter use of their bay or harbour by calving female right whales. For 30 years before 1964 not a single right whale was reported on the New Zealand...

Steve Wagstaff
9 Jan 2011 - 21:22
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Panoramic View
P. Criniferum And Hookeri Hybrid
Pleurophyllum Criniferum Habit
Damnamenia Vernicosa Flower
Pleurophyllum Speciosum Flower

Early botanists exploring Campbell Island were astounded by the lush herbaceous plants that they called megaherbs. Megaherbs encompass a diverse array of plants including Bulbinella, Stilbocarpa, and Anisotome, but the large showy daisies in the genus Pleurophyllum are arguably the most striking. Three species are included in the genus, which is endemic to the subantarctic islands. All three are found on Campbell Island. They hybridize in various combinations, which suggests reproductive...

Steve Wagstaff
9 Jan 2011 - 20:43
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Dwarf Dracophyllum Forests
D. Longifolium Growth Habit
D. Longifolium Flowers
D. Scoparium Growth Habit
D. Scoparium Flowers

With nearly 50 species, New Zealand is the centre of diversity for the genus Dracophyllum. Dracophyllum longifolium ranges widely on the mainland of New Zealand, but is also found on Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands, whereas D. scoparium has a perplexing distribution being found both on the Chatham Islands and Campbell Island, but not on the mainland.

At low elevations on Campbell Island they form almost impenetrable dwarf forests, which can reach up to 5 meters high, but...

Alex James
8 Jan 2011 - 21:01
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
Hooker Valley
Sorensen Hut
Inside Sorensen Hut
Hooker Stream Measurements
Hooker Stream Waterfall
Hooker Valley Slip
Feeding Time
Hooker Stream

The freshwater team has just returned from a sampling trip to the Hooker Valley (a.k.a. Starvation Valley) in the far north of Campbell Island. It was known as Starvation Valley in the past because its steep sides meant that once you were in the valley bottom, it would be difficult to get back out. Here we spent three nights in Sorensen Hut (a.k.a. Bull Rock Hut) while sampling four sites along the length of Hooker Stream.

The Hooker Valley is relatively flat bottomed with a steep...

Carla Meurk
3 Jan 2011 - 19:47
Research Areas
Human Interactions
Sea Lion Steward
Albatross Nest On Track
Track Through Draco
Track Monitoring
Hoiho Standing Guard

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...

Steve Wagstaff
2 Jan 2011 - 20:01
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Cushion Plant Panorama
A Tight Cushion
A Close Association
Oreobolus

Most plants perished from Antarctica as global temperatures cooled and the ice sheets advanced. Cushion plants and mosses were among the last plants to perish. Although the precise stratigraphical sequence and dates are controversial, fossil remains suggest that they may have persisted until the Pliocene Epoch about ten million years ago.

Cushion plants form expansive communities on Campbell Island. It is conceivable these plants are the descendants of Antarctic tundra vegetation....

Steve Wagstaff
1 Jan 2011 - 20:11
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Indigenous And Naturalized Plants
Cerastium Fontanum
Anthoxanthum Odoratum
Taraxacum Officinale

A number of exotic plants have become established and persist on Campbell Island. They are mostly associated with homestead or campsites or along tracks. The most common are range grasses such as Poa pratensis, Kentucky bluegrass, Festuca rubra, red fescue, or Anthoxxanthum odoratum, sweet vernal grass. A few such as Cerastium fontanum are found in coastal habitats at the high tide line or tussock or megaherb communites. They are mostly perennial herbs or grasses with seeds or fruits that...

Carla Meurk
27 Dec 2010 - 20:01
Research Areas
Human Interactions
Cool Lichen Number 1
Cool Lichen Number 2
Cool Lichen Number 3
Such Amazing Textures
The Coral One
Cover Girl
Jigsaw Puzzle

What do Lichens have to do with people? This was a question I puzzled over as I attempted to write a blog that would allow me to showcase photographs of cool Lichens taken while momentarily sidetracked from my focus on the study of humans. The first lichen I noticed I thought looked like coral—my developing appreciation of lichens trailing my enjoyment of diving. I guess one can only group a new thing in relation with the kinds of things one already knows about.

As I...

Colin Meurk
26 Dec 2010 - 21:36
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Expedition Dwellings - 1971
Expedition Dwellings - 2010
Happy Elephant Seals

One of the simplest and most effective ways of visualising and evaluating change in vegetation is to go back to where historic photos were taken and take the exact same shot. It is amazing to see history happen in front of your eyes. We are fortunate in having many old photographs taken around Campbell Island going back as far as the 1880s – before there was much human-caused change in the vegetation. This is a bit of a base line.

As an example (I will provide some better...

Steve Wagstaff
26 Dec 2010 - 21:21
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Panoramic View
Abrotanella Rostrata
Abrotanella Spathulata

It is widely accepted that sympatric speciation occurs, but it has rarely been demonstrated and the process is not well understood; allopatric speciation (reproductive isolation by distance) being a more common mode of evolution. Island ecosystems provide a perfect venue to test these evolutionary phenomena.

Two species of Abrotanella are found on Campbell Island. Abrotanella spathulata is the more...

Alex Fergus
26 Dec 2010 - 20:38
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Penguin Bay, 2005
Rockhopper Pengiuns

Well not wrangle the Rockhopper's, but I am off to monitor chick survival. It’s been 6 years since I was at Penguin Bay, and the photos here date from then. In that short time it’s likely the population of Pengs has continued to decline, an ongoing trend since the 1940s.

I’m heading over to the Bay, about a 6 hour tramp across the heart of Campbell Island, to help out Kyle Morrison, a Canadian PhD student studying Rockhopper Penguin decline as part of a NIWA...

Steve Wagstaff
26 Dec 2010 - 20:28
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Panoramic View
Lush Megaherb Community
Polystichum Cysostegia
Mark Filming

On Dec 24 Mark Crompton and I set out on a botanical expedition to the saddle between Mt Azimuth and Mt Fizeau. These two peaks roughly bisect Campbell Island and offer outstanding views to the north and south. As the albatross glides it is only about three kilometres to the saddle, but the track winds through dwarf Dracophyllum forest, boggy tussocks, megaherbs and alpine tundra fellfields near the saddle.

Mark is a fine companion; I’d trust him with my life. He walks at a...

Shelley McMurtrie
24 Dec 2010 - 19:59
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
Sticky Trap
Traps Set
Jo In The Undergrowth
Cost In The Draco
Tucker Stream
Sticky Trap

Jo (our DOC rep) was back from helping out two phd students on the island with us, so Alex James and I invited her along when we put out the sticky and pitfall traps along Tucker Stream, to show her what stream ecologists get up to – when we are not sampling in streams that is.

With the thick Dracophyllum, we were crawling through the undergrowth to get to 20m out from the stream to set up our traps (at 0m, 10m and 20m from the stream); in such situations it's always good...

Colin Meurk
23 Dec 2010 - 21:35
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Mapping A Quadrat In 2010
Map Of Original 1970 Fence Line Quadrat
2010 Map Of 1970 Fence Line Quadrat
Quadrat 13
Quadrat 14
Sampling In Fog And Wind

What am I doing down here – 41 years since I first set foot on Campbell Island? I originally came down as a callow youth to set up a vegetation monitoring programme for recording the way plants responded to the eradication of sheep. This was carried out progressively between 1970 (northern part of Island), 1984 (all but southeastern tip of Island) and early 1990s when the last one was removed.

We are going back to check all those plots, transect lines and photo points (...

Carla Meurk
23 Dec 2010 - 21:22
Research Areas
Technical Assistance
The Colony
Orange 32
A Banded Bird
Orange 83
The Colony

The island’s Albatross species have been key players in the history of ecology in the region with a banding program established during World War II by Jack Sorensen, a naturalist stationed on the island as a coastwatcher. Over the ensuing years MetService staff, scientists and most recently international volunteers have continued this (and other) ornithological research.

I recently spent 6 days assisting current Albatross research during which time I learnt how to handle...

Alex Fergus
22 Dec 2010 - 21:16
Research Areas
Terrestrial Ecology
Rennell Expt. 1960
Rennell Expt. 2010

Rats like to gobble creepy crawly things (insects). But which ones do they like to gobble the most? And of those favourites, have any endured down here on Campbell Island? It’s now almost a decade since the furry devils were eradicated from the island, so no longer are things like the giant weevils and the local weta subject to regular chompings.

This series of nets is a replica of an experiment run in 1960; by comparing records from then to now I can see which insects have...

Shelley McMurtrie
20 Dec 2010 - 22:55
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
See video

With favourable weather forecast we packed our sampling gear and headed over a ridge or two. We ended up in Camp Cove and went 'inland' up Camp Stream.

We had the usual sea lion encounters along the way. I've only been here 2 weeks but they're becoming boring - just kidding. They sniff around for a minute or two then get back to what they were doing - possible we're the boring ones?

Camp Stream is a delightful tannin-stained waterway that is relatively...

Shelley McMurtrie
20 Dec 2010 - 22:50
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
Camp Stream Waterfall
Camp Stream Patterns

With some favourable weather on the forecast we travelled a bit further afield (but not too far) over to Camp Cove and up Camp Stream. On our way were many sea lion encounters – they seem invariably intrigued in these two neoprene-clad bipeds that like to hang out in the streams like they do. We clearly are not that interesting however, as after a few minutes of sniffing they are off again to do their own thing.

We found Camp Stream to be a delightful tannin-stained waterway...

Colin Meurk
16 Dec 2010 - 20:55
Research Areas
Terrestrial EcologyFreshwater Ecology
Gressit Experiment
Disgruntled Sea Lion
Honey Falls Stream - Sampling Site
Back Off
Scrubbing Rocks

Campbell Island is not really the place for fishnet stockings but nets are in this season. We know there are nets out across the oceans, possibly harming the fish stocks that the penguins and albatrosses dine out on. But here on the Bicentennial Expedition to Campbell there are smaller fish to fry – and some bigger!

The next thing I saw these heroic freshwater biologists doing was scrubbing the rocks for algae-inhabiting insects and crustaceans and then measuring the rocks;...

Alex James
15 Dec 2010 - 21:35
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
Honey Falls
Surber Sampling
Kick Net Sampling
Chironomid Homes
Which Way
Honey Falls Stream - Upstream Site
Net Deployed
Tiama's Inflatable
Honey Falls Stream Valley
Heading Home

On December 14th the tourist boat ‘Tiama’ sailed into Perseverance Harbour and set anchor. As this boat has a small inflatable with outboard, we were presented with the opportunity to visit a nearby, but difficult to access (by foot) stream on the opposite side of the harbour. The skipper, Henk, kindly agreed to collect us from the wharf on the morning of the 15th, drop us off at the stream mouth, and collect us late in the afternoon. Also joining Shelley and I was botanist...

Alex James
14 Dec 2010 - 20:35
Research Areas
Freshwater Ecology
Tucker Stream
Tucker Stream - Site 1
Coastwatchers Hut
Coastwatchers Hut Leftovers
Tucker Stream - Site 2
Tucker Stream - Site 2 Loggers
Tucker Stream - Site 2
Walking Upstream
Tucker Stream - Site 3

Following a couple of days of very cold and windy weather the freshwater team got their field program underway. This initially involves concentrating on the nearby streams that can be done as day trips from the base. Later we will move on to the logistically challenging streams further away from base.

On Tuesday (Dec 14th) we started off with a trip to Tucker Stream, the mouth of which is only 20 minutes walk from base. This stream’s valley is of historic interest (as well...

Carla Meurk
10 Dec 2010 - 14:25
Research Areas
Human Interactions

Campbell Island, a small dot located in the furious fifties, is of immense importance to professional scientists and amateur naturalists alike. These intrepid present day voyagers brave rough seas and a hostile climate to experience the unique flora and fauna. Over the next nine weeks I’ll be studying the people who visit this remote location to answer questions about how they relate to the social and natural environment that surrounds them. In addition to my study of others, this...

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