Whales, boobies and butterfly fish

The Braveheart is quiet this evening. It has been a long and busy day, but well worth it. We had favourable sea conditions (mostly), sun shining and whale song and acrobatics to boot.

The day was certainly longest for the ‘on-shore’ crew – Lindsey and Tam – they set off at 5:30am to catch up on the latest booby family happenings. There is always the risk when you interact with wild animals that they may acclimate to humans, and even mimic our behaviour. The boobies are not quite there yet, but they were certainly aware of Lindsey and Tam and got quite familiar with the camera equipment. The objective of the film crew’s work is to relay ‘natural behaviour’ of the wild critters around Kermadec Archipelago. Clearly, the booby featured in the photo below did not get the memo that ‘selfies’ are not allowed.

Booby selfie.

Booby selfie.

Although not as long, the science crew had a successful day. Early on Dave spotted a very handsome butterfly fish. After an elaborate underwater mime act at the end of the planned dive activities, Libby and Charlie decided to humour Dave and follow him down a long ravine in the opposite direction of the boat. Fortunately for everyone Charlie snapped a photo of the fish Tom identified it as the yellowsnout butterflyfish (Chaetodon flavirostris) – another new record for the Kermadec Islands! This fish has not previously been identified to live here, but is common in Tonga and a few other South Pacific regions. Charlie once again went on to impress even more (and not only with his cooking). In his afternoon dive he snapped another photo – a black and white polka-dot wrasse with a bright yellow tail (Anampses meleagrides). Quite distinctive and also a new record for the Kermadec Island group. Clearly, we still have a lot to learn about this place.

There is chatter that we may leave Raoul Island in the next few days in quest of new footage opportunities and other islands to survey and sample. This is exciting and unfortunate. We look forward to the opportunity presented by the other islands, but would be reluctant to leave Raoul. It is a gem.

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