Almost four years of planning has finally come to fruition. The Tawaki Project 2022 expedition to the sub-antarctic Bounty and Antipodes Islands finally set sails aboard the research yacht Evohe and left the Otago Harbour eastwards. Until Christmas our team of seven researchers will conduct a plethora of tasks to learn more about the endangered Erect-crested penguin/tawaki nana hī and Eastern Rockhopper penguins/Tawaki piki toka.
First stop will be on the Bounty Islands, where the team hopes to coduct a complete drone survey of the archipelago to get the first reliable penguin count. The team will also install time-lapse cameras to record the goings-on over the course of the next year with the hopes of getting insight into the penguins’ breeding success and annual life-cycle. Also planned is disease screening in collaboration with the Department of Conservation. After about a week, the expedition will move on to the Antipodes Islands, some 200 km to the south of the Bounties. Here the team will get off the Evohe and spent the next four weeks in the research hut. Besides full drone surveys of penguins on the islands, we also plan to get information about both of the resident tawaki species’ foraging ecology using GPS dive loggers as well as camera loggers.
The expedition will be joined by a team from New Zealand Geographic who will document the expedition for a feature article due to come out early next year.
The project is a collaboration of Tawaki Trust, Antarctic Research Trust and Global Penguin Society.
Follow the expedition over on the Tawaki Project website: https://www.tawaki-project.org