Raising awareness of sub-Antarctic ecosystems

Richard Schofield afloat at Dusky Sound. PHOTO: RICHARD SCHOFIELD
Richard Schofield afloat at Dusky Sound. PHOTO: RICHARD SCHOFIELD
A Balclutha photographer hopes his recent trip to parts of the Southern Ocean will raise awareness about the threatened bird species and fragile ecosystems there.

Richard Schofield left from Bluff on December 31 last year aboard Spirit of Enderby, an expedition vessel that holds 50 passengers.

He travelled about 660km to Campbell Island, where he stayed for a day before heading out again.

"It’s an amazing place, my favourite sub-Antarctic island because of its remoteness.

"Other than birds and wind, it’s a quiet place," he said.

An Auckland teal on Enderby Island.
An Auckland teal on Enderby Island.
Mr Schofield, who owns Richard Schofield Photography in Balclutha, was invited on board as a guest of Heritage Expeditions and as a representative of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, to document the birdlife on the sub-Antarctic islands.

His journey and photos feature in the latest edition of the ornithological society’s magazine, Birds New Zealand.

After Campbell Island, he visited the uninhabited Auckland Islands, past the Snares, to Stewart Island and nearby Ulva Island.

The ship then visited Fiordland, including Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, before returning to Bluff on January 10.

"Many species, especially seabirds, breed only [in the sub-Antarctic] here, so it is vital they are protected," he said.

Auckland Island was the only one with introduced pests, which were having a devastating effect on seabird populations, he said.

Snares Penguins.
Snares Penguins.
Mr Schofield recalled cruising through mist, up the eastern flank of Auckland Island one evening.

"Hundreds of Antarctic prions, a kind of petrel, appeared briefly across the bow before vanishing into the mist again," he said.

Mr Schofield hoped he raised awareness around protecting seabirds and their habitats by talking to fellow passengers and giving lectures.

‘‘I think most people on board were not really aware of the birdlife apart from in a general sense," he said.

He had no specific plans to exhibit his photographs at this stage.


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