Topic: The continuing diaries of a volunteer responding to MV Rena grounding, Astrolabe Reef, Mount Maunganui, 5th October 2011

Topic type:

The diaries of a volunteer responding to MV Rena grounding, Astrolabe Reef, Mount Maunganui, 5th October 2011

Archived version here.

  Monday 17 Oc´╗┐tober to Wednesday 19 October; Days ten to twelve; Mauao work has been ramped up with an extra layer of DoC personnel to 

Penguin oiled and in boxhandle the increased traffic of penguins being oiled. We are getting tired but are getting to know the true amount of birds on Mauao and Moturiki. Another trip to Motuotau is planned for Thursday night.









Thursday 20 to Saturday 22nd October, Days 13-15; Follow-up trip to Motuotau / Rabbit Island

We returned to Motuotau / Rabbit Island for a post-slick check on the Rewa Thursday night. Our first night stretched our resources thinly, and we Boxed penguins ready for hospitalended up with boxes of penguins awaiting uplift the following morning. The worst ones received treatment in our field hospital, which was set up on the landing beach. We called in more support with two extra people arriving for Friday night, which stretched the availability of flat tent sites to the max! The second night was less intense with two crews working the sectors of rocks that we had reconnoitred earlier in the day. The penguins rafted up just offshore on dusk, and then they all came in at once, creating a traffic jam at the hospital! Saturday morning dawned flat, so we packed up camp and had all the gear ready on the beach and then got a disturbing call: the boat wasn't coming as there was a tsunami warning! What rotten timing! But luck turned as the Rewa was already close to the island! However, we only had a brief  window of time to get all our gear on board and get back into port. Time to step up the speed of the operation! The rope system worked better than the rowing system and in no time the next 15 birds, 6 humans and all our island gear were motoring at speed back to the marina, another successful expedition completed.


Sunday 23 to Saturday 29 October, Days 16-22; Mauao/Mount Maunganui and back to Motuotau / Rabbit Island again

More and more clean birds are being found, mainly on the mainland. Our teams are tired but are willing to go ahead with any proposed fieldwork, and there was another island trip in the wings. After two more Mauao fieldwork nights, we prepared to go to Motuotau for Friday, Day 21, with oil scheduled to hit Mayor Island / Tuhua the following day, Day 22. However, the boat that was scheduled to take us developed engine problems on the way back from Motiti Island, so we set Plan B in action; going off the Mount Maunganui main surf beach in the inflatable rescue boat (IRB). Now, getting 5 people, all the camping gear, food and bird boxes out to the island on an IRB was going to be a challenge. The extra challenge for one of our team members is that the IRB had incredibly slippery sides, and she went in to the water up to her armpits! Four trips later we were all landed on Motuotau's rocky shore, with no beach landing possible because of the high tide. Most of us were a little damp around the edges! Two teams were stationed at the two main penguin areas, and some oily birds were retrieved after dark. The night work finished after midnight, when we finally got back to the tents. I checked the bird boxes at the bottom of the cliff in the morning, and all penguins had survived the night. I got back to camp and it was panic as the team had just received word that the boat was to pick us up in ten minutes! Three tents, 5 people, food, bird boxes...Fifteen blurry minutes later we lurched down the cliff to find the Rewa waiting patiently for us. We clung on, passing some good seabirds that were obviously oil free. We passed another container ship once inside the channel, little knowing that this ship was about to lose power and ground on the rocks of North West Mauao, the second grounding of a ship in the Bay of Plenty in October.

Days 23 to 26, October 30 to November 2 2011

Our Mauao work has been scaled down as we are finding many clean penguins, and November 2nd so far will be our last night. The night's highlight on Mauao and Moturiki: there were no oiled birds. Black-backed gull on nest, MauaoThe lack of people around Mauao has allowed a Black-backed Gull to nest almost on top of the base track! Until the Rena breaks up, we will cease the nightwork. Watch this space!

Paul Cuming








This page archived at Perma CC in November of 2016:

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

The continuing diaries of a volunteer responding to MV Rena grounding, Astrolabe Reef, Mount Maunganui, 5th October 2011

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
The continuing diaries of a volunteer responding to MV Rena grounding, Astrolabe Reef, Mount Maunganui, 5th October 2011 by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - PC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License