Island Conservation’s Jason Zito shares the latest news from the Antipodes Island Restoration Project
Greetings friends from 49° latitude south!
It’s been about a week since we landed on Antipodes Island, New Zealand and things are proceeding rapidly. Our team of 18 are all settled in camp and have been buzzing around busily lending hands wherever they are needed. We’re doing everything from installing pit toilets to monitoring the islands amazing birds, to doing light carpentry. There is no shortage of tasks that need doing here.
On Saturday, after waiting out a spell of strong winds, our building team finished the frame and covering for our temporary helicopter hangar.
High winds have also delayed the start of baiting on the island a bit. In fact,
the winds are so bad that helicopter pilots had to actually de-blade their choppers so nothing gets damaged in the gales.
Still, we managed to offload around two-thirds of our bait pods as well as load site infrastructure materials. We hope to get the rest finished sometime this week when there should be a break in the nasty weather.
We have fantastic views of Bollons Island to the north and amazing wildlife right under our noses. There are baby Antipodes Wandering Albatross studded all throughout the area, as well as Giant Petrels, Skuas, and endemic parakeets to name a few. I’ve been taking lots of photos when I can and have gathered a lot of great material of the effort thus far. I also got some great time lapse footage of our impressive hangar construction project.
It’s been a tremendous experience to work with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation folks on this project. Island Conservation’s Jose Luis and I have been learning a lot from them and enjoying the company of everyone here. If this any indication for the next couple of months, then we are in for a great time, despite the wind!
The terrain is quite difficult, but while the weather has been cumbersome, so far it hasn’t been quite as bad as I expected. We’re fed well, although it seems that hot sauce is a bold and exotic experience for our kiwi compatriots! Thankfully, Jose Luis brought a healthy supply of Siracha to supplement the local’s favorite condiments, Marmite and Worcestershire. I think I’m the only one regularly using the hot sauce so-far, but we’ll see about that!
I send you all a warm aloha from Jose and I,
Island Restoration Specialist
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