Archives For Akaroa

DOC ranger Tom MacTavish tells us about a new marine reserve surveying initiative in the Banks Peninsula area, and what it’s like ‘potting’ for blue cod.

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Today’s photo of the week is of the first Hector’s dolphin calf to be spotted in Akaroa Harbour this breeding season.

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It’s Conservation Week and today’s photo speaks to the “Discover the world where you live” theme.

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Every Friday Jobs at DOC will take you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

Today we profile biodiversity ranger, Derek Cox.

Derek Cox, Ranger Biodiversity, Akaroa Field Base

At work…

Position: Ranger Biodiversity, Akaroa Field Base.

What kind of things do you do in your role?

My main role is the marine work around Banks Peninsula. So I get to go out and look after the Pōhatu Marine Reserve, Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary, and all the marine mammals that are resident or visit the area.

But that is only part of it. There are only two of us over on Banks Peninsula, and I am the only ranger living here, so I get involved in most of the work that goes on — from weed and pest control, to compliance, fire, and all the local issues that occur.

What is the best part about your job?

The variety of work — at all levels, from national to the local community.

What is the hardest part about your job?

The sheer variety of work, and trying to keep up and adjust to work programmes to cope with the changing demands on my time.

Necropsy of a 15 metre ship-struck fin whale

What led you to your role at DOC?

I started out training as a Land Survey Technician up in Auckland, then got a job doing survey work for the New Zealand Forest Service in Te Kuiti, initially for six months. 12 years later I was still there, doing a variety of work, when I was invited to apply for a job with the newly formed DOC.

From Te Kuiti I went to Tairua, on the East Coast of the Coromandel, working largely in visitor assets — looking after camp grounds and tracks, including the Cathedral Cove track system and marine reserve, and doing a variety of survey work right around the Waikato region. I did this for about 16 years before I transferred to Akaroa five years ago to do more marine based work.

Surveying the extension of the Windows Tunnel for the Karangahake Walkway

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

I upgraded part of the Hay Scenic Reserve walking track — we metalled a wet and boggy 60 metre part of the track and tidied up a few other areas of the track.

Hay Scenic Reserve is a small reserve in Pigeon Bay that has a really neat stand of lowland alluvial podocarp/broadleaf forest with a loop track running through it. DOC has been getting rid of the exoctic weeds and controlling the pest animals in the reserve for a while.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. My wife Alison
  2. My three children Rebekah, Matthew and Nathan, and what they have achieved and are achieving
  3. My job/home

Three pet peeves

  1. My wife having to work and board away from home during the week (but I guess it helps pay the bills)
  2. Rubbish on the road side
  3. Offenders in the marine reserve

    Surveying a boundary line, Whareorino Forest

Three foods

  1. Cheese
  2. Icecream
  3. My wife’s home baking

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Home, overlooking Barry’s Bay
  2. Tairua
  3. Auckland Islands

    Sea kayaking around Great Mercury Island

Favourite movie, album and book

  1. Movie: The first Star Wars movie
  2. Album: Most easy listening music
  3. Book: Any book that has a good story to tell

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Enjoy life.

Who or what inspires you and why?

All the people I have worked with because they are managing to achieve so much. It’s not necessarily just the big projects, but also the small day-to-day gains that make a difference in the long term.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you gew up?

A land surveyor.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A land surveyor.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Compost and recycle where and when you can.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

Solar hot water for my home.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

A New Zealand fur seal—at home in the water and lazing on the rocks in the sun.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Every little bit helps! Whether it is a small planting project, a couple of traps for pests, or clearing some weeds—cumulatively it all helps the vision of a great New Zealand to live in.

By Lizzy Sutcliffe

British conservationist, photographer and presenter (and all-round good-guy), Mark Carwardine, is once again in New Zealand undertaking a whistle-stop tour of some of the best wildlife attractions the country has to offer.

Well-known for inspiring the sexual advances of another conservation hero – Sirocco the Kakapo – Mark is here to put New Zealand on the map as a wildlife destination for tourists coming from the UK.

His visit will highlight our ‘Small 5’ (as opposed to Africa’s ‘Big 5’) – species that tourists can expect to see on a two-week visit – Hector’s dolphins, tuatara, kiwi, kea and yellow-eyed penguins.

I caught up with him this week when he was in Akaroa to meet and photograph our very own Hector’s dolphins.

Hector’s dolphins* © Mark Carwardine

Meeting at DOC’s Akaroa Field Base in miserable southerly weather, the day did not appear to brim with photography opportunities. Mark, Area Manager Bryan Jensen, Ranger (and boat captain) Derek Cox and myself all set out through the clouds and surf to the head of Akaroa Harbour to see if we could find the, often elusive, dolphins – and we were not disappointed.

As the sea became rougher, the dolphins flocked to visit the only boat game enough to be out in the conditions. Groups of between two and six Hector’s would surf the waves as they rolled towards us, ducking under the boat at the last minute and then turn around to repeat their fun.

Frustratingly, despite this brilliant display, it appeared the weather was not going to be so cooperative and driving rain soon set in making photography near-impossible.

Thrilled by the antics of these rare dolphins but thwarted by the southerly, we were forced to head back to shore where we said goodbye to Mark who’s next stop was Wilderness Lodge in Arthur’s Pass to meet more friendly New Zealand locals – kea.

A cheeky kea on Mark's rental car! © Mark Carwardine

It was a pleasure to help Mark with his project and hear his conservation stories. For those of you not already doing so, I would recommend you catch up with the latest news from his travels by following him on Twitter.

*Mark took this photo of Hector’s dolphins in better weather on Sunday when he went out with Black Cat Cruises. We were sad to hear from him that there were several  jet skis getting far too close to the dolphins and not complying with the guideline for sharing our coasts with marine mammals. Please make sure you don’t take advantage of our friendly marine mammals and let them come to you.