Today the wind and swell intensified – gusting up to 50 knots – and although a few persisted with diving activities today, most took advantage of today as a time to catch up on jobs and reflect. I suspect for many of the divers they simply wanted to get wet, to do something with their day, or maybe to wake up. We all had very little sleep last night as large swells traveling north from the New Zealand mainland hit the coast of Raoul Island. We were regularly woken by the heaving seas and the sounds of the anchor moving on the cobbly bottom of Boat Cove. Never to fear though – we were in the safe hands of the experienced Braveheart crew.
The NHNZ team logged their footage, making sure they have all the pieces required to portray the Kermadec Islands to us all. The team was well-prepared having researched the islands, their biodiversity, and the footage they needed to collect. But as with all filming expeditions there were always some unexpected characters fighting for their claim to fame. Now, with nearly eight hard drives and 16 terabytes of footage Kyle and Lindsey are diligently examining every shot to make sure not a moment will be missed in the editing process to come.
Despite the heavy winds Kina, Brady and Ross were determined to get into the water for a bit of filming. They weren’t sure if their endeavour would be a success as the topside weather left something to be desired. But the weather underwater was much more pleasant than above. And after a bit of searching Brady managed to find an endemic Kermadec scalyfin guarding a nest of eggs, something we had not been able to find the entire trip.
The science crew have been entering data, preparing specimens for storage and reflecting on their work. This trip has been a phenomenal success; our trip has been filled with new species yet to be described, new species records for the Kermadec Islands and New Zealand, new behaviours never before witnessed in the novel communities of the Kermadec Islands, and we expect many more novel discoveries as we dig deeper into the data collected on this expedition.
The work started on this voyage will continue for years to come. For instance, we have collected over 1200 tissue samples that can be used for DNA analysis. This resource will be used to help us describe new species – we can allocate species DNA barcodes, we can reveal how genetically differentiated these species are from one another, and gain insight into how species may have evolved. All samples and specimens will be carefully stored. In many cases, these are the only samples or specimens for these species in the world. It is important to have these available so that the biodiversity of New Zealand can be represented in worldwide research. To communicate our findings to other scientists we will publish the results of our collections and surveys in scientific journals. These are like (fairly dry) magazines that are specific to a certain field of research. For those who are not inclined to read these, we will make sure to also relay our results via the Auckland Museum. Stay tuned!
Tonight we are all looking forward to catching up on sleep, and banking some sleep before the long, and potentially uncomfortable voyage home. We will plan to set off after lunch tomorrow. Hopefully we can sneak in one more charmed dive around Raoul Island before then.