07 Oct 2020

Heritage LIVE Replay: Intro to the Snares

Living Amongst the Albatross

To kick off our Heritage LIVE online series, we showcased the Snares Islands, including my adventures here as field researcher. Located 200 kilometres off the southernmost tip of New Zealand's South Island, the Snares are UNESCO World Heritage listed. Extreme precautions are taken to prevent non-indigenous plant or animal infestation, and with access only granted for research, expeditioners are able to observe the wildlife and fascinating granite formations by Zodiac or ship cruising.

While this study took place in my university years, the subject often comes up whilst exploring the Snares on our Subantarctic voyages. Sometimes I forget that living amongst Albatross on an uninhabited island over winter isn't your typical university "study abroad" experience!

For my honours thesis, I focused on Buller's Albatross reproductive strategies. Of the two Albatross species that breed on these islands, the most colourful and numerous is the Buller’s Albatross with an estimated 18,000 individuals. I spent six weeks over winter living on the Snares, along with a NIWA scientist and field assistant. In addition to thousands of Albatross, our neighbours consisted of Snares Crested Penguins, Fur Seals, Hooker’s Sea Lions and variety of coastal seabirds such as the Common Diving-Petrel and Sooty Shearwater. I lived in a hut with no heating or electricity and, every day, weighed adults returning from sea as well as their chicks in order to determine the difference in the energy investment by parents of different sex.

If you missed the live event, which was broadcasted on Facebook, you can enjoy the replay above.

Aaron Russ
Commercial Director & Expedition Leader
Heritage Expeditions

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