Rose, Bud, Thorn

Kia Ora from Regan and Malia! We decided to model this blog post after a traditional group debrief activity: rose, bud, thorn. The rose is often the highlight of the day, your favorite time, place or activity. The bud is something you look forward to or learned in the day and the thorn would be a low point or hardest time of your day, so here is our last week in review:

Sunday March 13th
Location: Kaikoura
Weather: Sunny and Warm (60˚F) with a slight breeze
Activity: Intertidal Research and Kaikoura Exploration

Rose- After a day of research and intertidal exploration involving picking seaweed, poking anemone, counting snails and kissing scutus, we got on a boat in late afternoon for our Albatross Encounter. Albatross are the largest extant flying bird, with wingspans over six feet. They feed over the ocean, skimming their wings and playing over the waves. We saw the largest albatross (The Wandering Gibson’s Albatross), the rarest albatross (The Grey Headed Albatross), and a flocking of other birds (Petrels, Shearwaters, Terns, Gulls, and Gannets) following our boat to get at our chum bait. We also saw (but were not supposed to look at due to permitting of the Albatross encounter) dolphins and whales.

Bud- In the morning we had a talk with Matthias giving us an introduction to Kaikoura. We learned about the geologic formation of this area, the interaction of the warm and cold currents creating a very nutrient rich area which host’s diverse food chain of many species. We also learned about the sustainable initiatives that the Kaikoura community has used and using eco-tourism as a background for the conservation of the marine species. We look forward to exploring Kaikoura over the next four days.

Thorn- The frantic attempts to create viable research projects that include a question, hypothesis and tests that could be completed in the few days. Hopefully yielding significant results. Also on the Albatross Encounter we had four people suffer from sea sickness. The front enclosed part of the boat became an infirmary for all of the sleeping sickos.

Monday March 14th
Location: Kaikoura
Weather: Sunny and Warm (55˚F)
Activity: Intertidal Research and Kaikoura Exploration

Rose- In the afternoon we had a lecture by Lindsay Rowe on the Hutton Shearwater, a bird undergoing conservation efforts in Kaikoura to try and create more breeding colonies. He talked about monitoring occurring at night of roadways throughout Kairkoura due to the inexplicable crashing of fledgling youth on the streets of Kaikoura possibly due to their mistaking street lights as being the moon reflecting off of the ocean. Later that night some of us walked and others drove looking for shearwaters. We found two shearwaters, a hedgehog, and to our excitement a little blue penguin.

Bud- We were excited about our research starting to take shape with the help of Shawn Gerrety and Paul North researchers from the University of Canterbury. Team Turbo was looking at the effect of wave exposure on the size and abundance of two snail species in the intertidal zone. The Kelp Kidz looked at species diversity and abundance in two different species of seaweed holdfasts (root system). The Butterfish Brigade looked at the effect of butterfish grazing on two different juvenile species of seaweed.

Thorn- The Butterfish Brigade had a 4 am wake up to place their experimental seaweeds in the field. It was a long day for those early risers, with many naps.

Tuesday March 15th
Location: Kaikoura
Weather: Sunny in the morning with rain developing in the afternoon
Activity: Intertidal Research and Kaikoura Exploration

Rose- Rachel Vaughn of the Kaikoura District Council came and talked to us about the environmental initiatives done by the local community to become a more green city. She talked about the impact tourism had on the local community and the systems upgrade that were needed to cope with this increase in use and the green focus track that took over to allow the city to cope and make it green at the same time. Through this Kaikoura has received a Platinum Certification through Earth Check, which is a private organization that helps cities and towns develop environmentally friendly plans. This idea came out of the UN Global Commission in the early 1990’s.

Bud- We were excited to finish the research and finally see the results of all of our hard work of the last few days and share that with our peers.

Thorn- We still had to finish the projects and do the hard job and confusing job of running statistical analysis on our results and trying to finish the projects up in an ever shrinking window of time.

 

Wednesday March 16th
Location: Kaikoura
Weather: Rainy and overcast (50˚F)
Activity: Intertidal Research and Kaikoura Exploration

Rose- Today was Nathan’s 21st birthday. For dinner we went to a fancy restaurant called Tutis in our best outdoor chic to celebrate another birthday as well as the conclusion of our research, cheersing with a mix of water, milkshakes, beer and wine. After last minute analysis and rushed PowerPoint presentation creation and practice, our presentations went smoothly, sharing all the results we had found with our other classmates, and breathing a sigh of satisfied relief when all done.

Bud- After the finish of our presentations, Matthias gave us an ecotourism lecture which left us inspired and hopeful that there could be a relationship between wildlife tourism and conservationism with both sides in a symbiotic relationship.

Thorn- The rain kept us inside and prevented us from hiking along the peninsula and visiting the Hutton Shearwater nesting site up on the cliffs over the ocean. It was also our last full day in Kaikoura and we were not able to go out exploring, the weather seemed to echo our feelings on departing the research station we called home base for the past week.

 

Thursday March 17th
Location: Kaikoura through Nelson to Motueka
Weather: Overcast and warm (55˚F)
Activity: Travel and Exploration of Nelson and Motueka

Rose- On our way out of Kaikoura we stopped for a short hike up to Ohua Point, but we quickly stopped to oooh and awww at the little critters playing with their friends in the stream, we had been led to a baby fur seal kindergarten. Matthias explained the strange sight of baby seals in the fresh water river, clambering over the rocks; the mothers drop the babies off in protected areas like the mouths of rivers and streams to play with other baby seals while the mothers go hunt. The Seal Kindergarten has become a hotspot for tourists and locals to come visit the cute and cuddly creatures and observe from a distance.

Bud- Our third stop on our way through Nelson after the Seal Kindegarten and a visit with a DOC (Department of Conservation) scientist (to hear about the effects of 1080 on some native birds) we visited Mapua Wharf, a beautiful public land overlooking a pristine estuary. Matthias sat us down and had us look at the beautiful scenery while telling us it had once been the most polluted soil in New Zealand lying under an agricultural chemical processing factory. What we were hearing and what we saw contrasted largely but it also gave us hope that with significant effort into conservation and restoration, we can help damaged land be reborn.

Thorn- After a long day of travel we exhaustedly unloaded to an unfortunately cramped hostel, battling for a space to cook and eat with our large group.

Friday March 18th
Location: Motueka to Totaranui
Weather: Overcast with rain developing in the early afternoon and clearing out in the evening (60˚F)
Activity: Hiking in Abel Tasman National Park

Rose- We got dropped off via water taxi in the Abel Tasman National Park were we hiked around 12km northwards on one of the New Zealand Great Walks. We encountered golden sand beaches and amazing views of the ocean. Our hike was dependent on the tides because we had to cross an estuary barefoot as part of the hike. The rain started in the last two hours or so of our hike but cleared out by time we made it to our destination. Some of us even went for a swim to cool off and relax our aching limbs.

Bud- In the evening we listened to a talk from Sean Weaver about his views on the impact of 1080. He talked about the polarized political debate that is occuring in New Zealand. He also talked about the science from both sides and the gaps that occurred in the scientific research. He expanded his talk to all environmental issues and how human issues and environmental issues are not separate but are the same. He talked about his work with a west coast community and the fight over logging and the resolution that he built to help resolve the environmental issue and make everyone happy. It was good to hear two perspectives on the 1080 debate in the past two days and we look forward to hearing more after our walk on the Heaphy track.

Thorn- We all had achy and sore bodies after the long day of hiking. Which was relieved by swimming, warm showers, and naps.

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Friday March 19th
Location: Totaranui Outdoor Education Center
Weather: Overcast with some sun pockets and light rain (65˚F)
Activity: Layover at Totaranui

Rose: After our morning class with Jay discussing zoos and native species reintroduction, we had the afternoon off to go for walks and hikes, relax, read, wash smelly clothes, trim hair and write blog posts. We also got to make calzones for dinner!

Bud: Tomorrow we go to Golden Bay, a beautiful scenic area for another day hike and starting Monday we hop on the Heaphy track for a five-day backpacking adventure.

Thorn: none to report

 

Ciao,
Regan and Malia

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