Early this morning the inhabitants of the Braveheart woke to the rocking and rolling of the ocean, and the ship was forced to move from Boat Cove on the south east coast of Raoul Island. A nearby weather system developed into a low as a front moved over the top of us. The wind, rain and swell increased very quickly from the south east, and we found shelter in the lee of the Meyer Islands.
The shore team went to film birds in the inclement weather on South Meyer Island, the underwater film team dropped in to check out cowrie snails laying eggs, and the science party were dropped off nearby just before low tide to count and measure intertidal populations of the endemic Kermadec limpet, Scutellastra kermadecensis. This limpet grows to 180mm and is the world’s second largest limpet, second only in size to the giant Mexican limpet Patella mexicana.
Within an hour the weather turned from bad but workable to much worse as the wind and swell doubled in intensity. First, because of the growing swell, the limpet party could not be picked up off the rocks where they were working. They had no option but to jump from the rocks, timing their swim to the safety of Thomas the tender between heavy sets of swell. Then the divers were safely returned to the now pitching and rolling Braveheart. Captain Matt decided that it was time for the Braveheart to leave this rolling anchorage, where it was now too rough to bring the tenders on board. Thomas was deployed to retrieve the shore film team of Lindsey and Tamra, while the Braveheart and the second tender Dirk made their way to a small patch of lee on the far side of the island at Denham Bay. Ever-reliable Thomas made its way to Denham Bay in heavy seas and wind – a very long and wet ride for all on board. We were all relieved to be back on board, warm and dry, and shared our adventures over lunch. Thanks to the seamanship of the Braveheart crew there were no incidents, for which we are all grateful.
So we have taken the opportunity this afternoon to catch up on collating the large amount of data that we have collected, ensure all specimen labels correctly link the collections to the places where they were gathered, and to stabilise our collections for the journey home. Kina and Ross of the NHNZ film team found a reef in Denham Bay sheltered enough to dive and film a boiling underwater eruption of hot gas and liquid – a reminder that we are in a very active geological area.
By the end of the day. We were back at Boat Cove where we started, having been chased all the way around the island by the ever changing wind and swell, and the occassional playful dolphins. Hopefully tomorrow’s condition will be more settled and condusive to science and filming.