The beginnings of the archipelago

Today we continued our long journey north following the Kermadec Ridge, but more importantly, we have come upon land! First we passed Havre Rock and L’Esperance rock at dawn; then Curtis Islands and Cheeseman after lunch; and Macaulay this evening.

On approach to Curtis Island we were reminded of the volcanic origins of these barren islands. There simply would not be a Kermadec archipelago, without the volcanism. Sulphurus fumes and rising steam were evident from several vents on Curtis Island. We decided this was a good backdrop for our first dive of the expedition. There were no signs of volcanic activity under the water, except that the seascape was quite barren, possibly owing to the island’s youth and continual disturbance by storms. However, the fishes didn’t seem to mind – in a visual survey we recorded 33 different species of fishes.

The team recorded 33 different species of fish during their first dive off Curtis Island, including this large yellow-tailed king fish.

We saw a variety of New Zealand characters, like the two-spot demoiselles and blue maomao, but also the black spotted groper and king fish of a size rarely seen around the New Zealand mainland.

There were also a few warmer water characters: the Lord Howe coral fish, northern kahawai, and the Kermadec demoiselle. In the quiet of the undersea world we were fortunate to hear the song of passing whale, way beyond sight. And, the booming of a big black spotted groper telling us to keep our distance from his cave nearby.

The boom of the black spotted groper could be heard by underwater.

The clear blue water and warmth (19°C) made for an ideal first ‘shake-down’ dive for the scientists and film crew alike. We’re all looking forward our next dive around Macaulay Island tomorrow. This will be our last stop before Raoul Island – the biggest and most northern island of the archipelago.

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