Sealed with a kiss: mouth fauna of NZ fur seals

I have a watch that I often wear. This watch has an old TV test pattern on the dial. [TV test pattern? Showing my age, I need to explain to those younger than 35… Back in the day, television only broadcast from morning till around midnight. It then closed down (with the…

GMO research and environmentally concerned New Zealanders

New Zealand is a small, sparsely populate, faraway place to most people. It evokes romanticised images of wild spaces and good people who sympathise with their natural habitat. Naturally, there have always been efforts to create a meaningful identity for our country that reflects this internationally and entices visitors. ‘Clean…

The leopard, the which? and the wardrobe

There are very few lions in New Zealand. Or leopards. Or tigers. In fact, the only big cats that we have are, well, big cats. Once, when I was about 10, three circus lions escaped in the small town of Lawrence, not far from where I grew up. Or you…

A weevil of Earthsea: Finding the true name for the fourth beetle

“For magic consists of this, the true naming of a thing.” A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula le Guin Names are important. Without names, things are just stuff. With names, things are individuals. Individuals have pasts, they have futures. We can care about named things. When it comes to biodiversity,…

Zombies of Zealandia? A Halloween review of the Ghosts of Gondwana

(This review was published in the New Zealand Ecological Society newsletter no. 160, July 2017, pp 22-24)   Earlier this year I was in the Southern Alps with a first year field trip where we look at the geology of the region and what it tells us about the biological…

Romeo and Juliweta: kissing cousins or rival families?

Romeo and Juliet. Star-crossed lovers from two feuding families. What makes this story so epic, and such a tragedy, is that the Capulet and Montague families are such bitter enemies. The star-crossed lovers have it all in front of them if they want love to triumph. They might ask themselves…

About The Seal’s Latest Meals

Soon after their arrival, human settlers started to hunt the New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) from the islands’ shores and in its sounds. The pinnipeds were harvested for their meat by Maori, as well as by Europeans, who in addition found them quite useful for their fur (hence their…

Popping the seal: The fall and rise of the New Zealand fur seal population

One of my favorite places is the Catlins, a wild area of dripping bush, rugged southerlies, untouched beaches, and abundant wildlife in the far south-east South Island. There are some great spots within the Catlins, but the one I go back to time after time is The Nuggets. This area is a peninsula…

When history is evolution: the seals of Banks Peninsula

Recently, I caught up with an old school friend. It seems a long time since we played aspects of the same character in the musical “I was a teenage Jekyll and Hyde” at South Otago High School. Brent has a successful career as a history teacher, publishing text books and generally…

Splitting up the beetles: Come together on Banks Peninsula?

I’ve always been a fan of the beetles. They are some of the most obvious insects in our environments as we grow up and they don’t seem to have the ‘ick’ factor for people, like flies and spiders do. I’ve also always been a fan of the Beatles. My parents…