29 October 2014

Intrepid pair bound for sub-Antarctic yellow-eyed penguin expedition

NEW ZEALAND - Two teachers will be spending the Southern Hemisphere spring in the sub-Antarctic after being selected to join the 2014 DoC Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey in the Auckland Islands.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust, in association with the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Ministry of Education, has presented Environmental Educator awards to Voyager NZ Maritime Museum Educator Frazer Dale (42) of Sunnyvale, West Auckland and Cromwell College teacher Christina Greenwood (52) of Wanaka. Their award will see them join DoC workers counting numbers of endangered yellow-eyed penguins while based in the sub-Antarctic.

Sir Peter Blake Trust CEO, Shelley Campbell, said that the Trust was thrilled to be able to award these amazing opportunities to Frazer and Christina, both of whom are passionate about conservation and the environment.

“Following the 2014 Young Blake Expedition to the sub-Antarctic, of which St Kentigern College teacher Bernard Potter was a member, it’s fantastic to be able to send another two inspiring Kiwi teachers to experience this stunning part of New Zealand and we can’t wait to see and hear all about Frazer and Christina’s adventures in the Auckland Islands.

“Thanks to DoC and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, they will be able to contribute to another important environmental project and bring their stories and knowledge of this unique part of the world home to share with their students, as well as many other New Zealanders,” added Ms Campbell.

The intrepid duo will spend a day in quarantine in Invercargill before departing from Bluff on 17 November and will return to Bluff on 30 November. It will take around 2 days sailing to get to and from the Auckland Islands and, for the duration of the expedition, the crew will be based on the SV Evohe, a 28m yacht.

The New Zealand sub-Antarctic Islands have long been regarded as a stronghold for yellow-eyed penguins, although to date work at the Auckland Islands has been very limited. The last census estimate was calculated in 1989 and, since 2009, DoC, along with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, has been gathering data to calculate a revised population estimate and build a baseline so the population trend can be estimated.

The survey will require team members to count all of the penguins heading out to sea from just after dawn at 5am for several hours. During the count, staff will need to sit quietly and still, often alone at the site, and record the number of penguins seen entering the water. Once back on board the Evohe, there will be some down time to catch up on sleep and relax before heading out again to scout the next morning’s count sites.

Intrepid pair bound for Subantarctic yellow-eyed penguin expedition [media release], 8 October 2014, Sir Peter Blake Trust

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