ROSS WANLESS REPORTS ON EXPEDITION TO MARION & PRINCE EDWARD ISLANDS
Posted on the 9th May 2011
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TRAVEL – TRIP REPORT
Participation in research expedition to Prince Edward Islands
Title of voyage
Research expedition to the Prince Edward Islands
Dates of travel
28 Feb-30 March
Marion and Prince Edward (PEI) islands
Rob Crawford, Dept. Environmnetal Affairs
Participants of voyage
Newi Makhado, Mike Meyers, Time Reid, Genevieve Jones, Ross Wanless, Steve Kirkman, Bruce Dyer, Pierre Pistorius, Nola Parsons and Phil Whittington, as well as a small team of Oceanographers
Purpose of voyage
There were a huge number of objectives for the expedition. My primary roles were to assist with collection of AS@S data en route, to complete surveys of breeding White-chinned Petrels on PEI, deploy satellite transmitters on a diversity of albatross and petrel species, perform census counts of penguins at PEI and Marion, count breeding albatrosses (six species) and assist with surveys of nocturnal seabirds at PEI. Dr Tim Reid, our marine IBA post-doctoral researcher at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, also participated. We investigated biological and oceanographic aspects of eddies that erupt off the islands, in collaboration with UCT’s Dr Isabelle Ansorge, the lead Oceanographer for the voyage. At least a half-dozen scientific papers are envisaged arising from this expedition, of which I have been asked to lead on one (Wandering Albatross population status).
Presentations of BirdLife South Africa staff
Depart on RFV Africana 28 Feb
PEI 9-13 March
Marion 14-24 March
Return to Cape Town 30 March
Breakdown of cost participation
None – all costs were covered by the voyage organisers
Outcomes of voyage (include successes, challenges, recommendations for BLSA)
All the primary objectives were met, and several scientific papers are planned for a special issue of the South African Journal of Marine Science. We deployed 16 satellite transmitters, all of which worked. We also surveyed 80-90% of PEI for white-chinned petrel burrows and will be able to estimate, for the first time, the total population at both islands (Marion was surveyed in 2010). The seal team also deployed 8 satellite trackers on fur seals, and completed pup counts at PEI. We counted king penguin rookeries and completed numerous other smaller objectives. The usual challenges of working in poor weather at remote locations were expected and did not influence things unduly. It was particularly enjoyable to be part of a dedicated and competent group of researchers with whom professional ties and collaborative research may well evolve.
This voyage was the fulfilment of a personal ambition to visit PEI, an island without invasive mammals and essentially pristine. It was also an opportunity for me to represent BLSA, and to make contributions to important research and monitoring activities at these remote islands. It was also an opportunity to conduct fieldwork again after a long break from this, which is re-invigorating and inspiring, especially at such locations!
Names of documents emanating from voyage
Still in preparation/planning.
Acknowledgments (sponsors etc)
Dr Rob Crawford of the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coasts invited me to participate. Mark Anderson and Ben Sullivan are thanked for supporting my application to take leave from my regular duties to participate. My wife and kid are thanked for allowing my long absence from home!