Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Heading Home

Highlights of Gary’s progress on the
Our Far South Expedition
March 7, 2012

Minke Whale

Where next?
As we now steam towards Lyttleton after a brief visit to the Antipodes and Bounty Islands region, it’s time to pause and think about what comes next. What is striking about New Zealand’s subantarctic is that the amount of effort being put into research and understanding of this region is miniscule in proportion to both the size of the region as well as the importance of this region to New Zealand. New Zealand is home to one of the biggest exclusive economic regions in the world, yet what do we know about that portion of New Zealand that is underwater? Or for that matter within the water? 
 The Auckland Islands sit in an ideal place to address the issues – they lie at the northern boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, they are a biodiversity hotspot, and they are surrounded by fishing grounds. The Islands themselves also house a number of natural environments that have recorded past change – fiord basins, peat swamps, and locations to record present change – natural harbours, channels between the Islands and home to whales, sea lions and other plant, animal and bird species, many that are endemic. The challenge is to improve access and support for scientific and conservation efforts on the Islands and take advantage of their position as the canary in coalmine for the changing oceanic, climatic and biological realms.

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