Topic: Checking for Oiled Penguins on Motuotau / Rabbit Island, January 2012

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A short account of a typical night operation rounding up oiled Penguins off Motuotau or Rabbit Island, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

 Archived version from November 2016  here. 

The call was made in the afternoon to assemble a team to survey Motuotau / Rabbit Island for oiled wildlife, mainly penguins. The swell had died down enough during the last week to safely kayak over with all the equipment. The 8pm start allowed us enough natural light to land and start the night operation without our torches, which would be safely stowed aboard our kayaks. The kayaks were an essential part of our gear, and so we carefully paddled out through the breakers coming ashore at Shark Alley, getting a good soaking. We landed on the island shortly afterwards, as it is only 800 metres from shore, and the landing beach was protected from the swells on the other side of the island. Apart from finding a dead oiled penguin, we carried out our fieldwork with no startling discoveries of large amounts of new oil or large amounts of oiled wildlife. We micro-chipped penguins as we found them, and read the microchips of the ones that we had released previously. A lack of oiled penguins was a pleasing outcome after all the carnage that has been thrown our way since the Rena went aground over three months ago. After mounting lights on the kayaks and affixing our head torches tightly around our heads, we started the return journey at a shade past 11pm. After paddling out of range of the island’s swells, we were awaiting anxiously to find what kind of swells were in store for us when landing on the beach in pitch black conditions. After a few close calls regarding capsize, we alighted on the beach incident-free and were tucked up asleep by 1am.

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