Archives For Orca

It’s hard to believe that Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, our largest, busiest and most densely populated city in New Zealand hosts one of the most abundant and diverse marine parks in the world.

Continue Reading...

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Robyn Crisford with a parrot at a bird park in Honduras.

Making friends in Honduras

Today we profile Robyn Crisford, Geospatial Analyst in the North Canterbury District Office.

At work

Some things I do in my job include… Making maps! I am here for all the mapping and spatial data/query and analysis needs.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… Providing tools and support to field staff, as well as accurate reporting and analysis to increase conservation efforts and make New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth.

The best bit about my job is… The great team I work with! Also, getting to play with maps all day and when I get the chance, getting out into the field to help out and connect with field staff, run training and generally enjoying connecting with others and the outdoors.

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… Having the opportunity to spend two days with the rangers and field staff on Kapiti Island. This included seeing the great work they are doing as well as finding ways of helping them in their work (such as creating new map panels for the island), which connected their work to mine.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… Genevieve Spargo because of the awesome work she is doing out on Kapiti Island.

Robyn Crisford sea kayaking near orca.

Sea kayak guiding on multiday expedition trips in orca territory in the Johnstone Strait, British Columbia, Canada

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that I… Have dreams of owning a small sail boat where I can live on board and sail around the Pacific Islands living off kaimoana and island smiles.

My stomping ground is… Marahau, at the base of the Abel Tasman National Park. This is an area where I have spent much of the last ten years living and working as a Sea Kayak Guide and enjoying the amazing outdoor playground with many of the inspirational and spirited locals.

Robyn Crisford and a friend holding a kiwi.

Cuddles with a kiwi after its annual transmitter change

In my spare time I… Fill it up with travelling, hanging out with animals (cats, dogs, horses, birds—you name it, I will love it) snowboarding, kayaking, tramping, camping, rafting, gardening, dancing, and, as of lately… circus classes.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… The Haast Eagle soaring above the lush native bush and keeping an eye out for everyone and everything.

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to… There are many things I would love to do, including completing a Masters degree, getting involved in more social and environmental community projects…visiting and volunteering for grass roots community development projects throughout Asia and the Pacific Island—especially projects focused on green living and sustainability within communities (think permaculture/education and renewable energy solutions).

Robyn Crisford at the end of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.

Finishing the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… Rules are made to be broken.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…Stop worrying so much!

In work and life I am motivated by… The amazing people I am surrounded by. The view, stillness, and the feeling of being at the top of a mountain, diving to the bottom of a river bed, or sitting in the vast stillness of a pitch black cave system.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… Get involved! Go and enjoy the outdoors and you will feel more connected and learn lots about what is out there and why it is so important to protect our biodiversity and the environment.

A small turtle being released on a Guatemalan beach.

Releasing baby turtles back into the ocean in Guatemala

Question of the week…

If you had $10K to spend at any one shop, what shop would it be and why?

That $10K would definitely be spent at a travel agent – because I value experiences more highly that material possessions and there are many places I would love to travel to such as Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Spain, Greece, France, Iceland and Norway.

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Thelma Wilson, Biodiversity Ranger – Warkworth/Great Barrier Area

Thelma Wilson holding a giant petrel.

Are you sure the ute runs on petrel?

Name: Thelma Wilson.

Position: Biodiversity Ranger and Area Compliance Officer, Warkworth/Great Barrier Area.

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

Try to separate the fish from the fishers in marine reserves, dispose of dead whales, improve a variety of habitat and chances of survival for a range of species on mainland New Zealand, run programmes aimed at animal pest control and eradication, keep boundary fences intact, deal with land management issues and spend a lot of time chasing a mouse around on my desk! (and relieve on the odd island as needed).

Thelma Wilson with a kakapo on Codfish Island.

Codfish Island – delivering lunch

What is the best part about your job?

Floating around the Goat Island marine reserve at 6am on a fine, calm morning and not finding anyone fishing in it. Acting as the relieving ranger on Little Barrier is pretty cool too, even if it is an island.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Having to continually say “Sorry, we can’t,” to people who would like DOC help with a project that is probably quite worthwhile, but is so far down our priority list that we are not going to get near it.

Thelma Wilson with a stranded orca.

Keeping an orca cool while waiting for the tide

What led you to your role in DOC?

A long history of working and playing in the New Zealand backcountry. And the misguided idea that if I moved further north, I’d do more diving and the water would be warmer….

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Work wise, it was whale euthanasia training with staff from Northland – and not just because we were shooting large holes in drums full of water – it was great to spend time with the other marine mammal folks from the north without the stress of a dead whale(s) to deal with.

But as a Coastguard volunteer it was getting the tow angle just right and pulling an upside down 9m catamaran the right way up, without damaging it, in a 45knot head wind, out the back of Kawau Island!

Thelma Wilson snorkeling with a manta ray in Indonesia.

Snorkelling with Manta rays, Komodo, Indonesia

The rule of three…

3 loves:

  1. Underwater visibility  20m+.
  2. Flat sections of track that aren’t muddy.
  3. Having a good thrash around in the boat when the sea would send most people home.

3 pet peeves:

  1. People not putting it back where they got it from.
  2. Putting it back broken and not saying anything.
  3. People putting all their junk in front of the boat, so I have to move it!

3 foods:

  1. Crayfish.
  2. Scallops.
  3. Venison.

3 favourite places in New Zealand:

  1. Around 30m deep in Northern Arch, at the Poor Knights, in the middle of a huge school of pelargics.
  2. Anywhere around Lake Waikaremoana.
  3. Watching the sunset from West Landing, Little Barrier.

Favourite movie, album, book:

  • Movies (um – what’s a movie?).
  • Album: nothing springs to mind, I generally listen to any music – (ok, there is a  leaning to Irish artists, but I think that’s because they have been on “special” back when people actually bought CDs…).
  • Book: I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on hiking the Camino de Santiago recently – research for my next trip.
Thelma Wilson with her team on Raoul Island.

Rat eradication team, Raoul Island

Deep and meaningful…

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

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result!

Who or what inspires you and why?

Busy people who are passionate about their interests and make the time to get involved and make a difference.

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

A ranger (hey, when I was a kid the careers advice teacher correctly pointed out that “they don’t take girls – choose something else!”

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

A wilderness guide, so I could show more people that we have treasures worth fighting for.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

If you aren’t using it, give it to someone who will.

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

Learn to use TradeMe (on dial up) and community networks to find new homes for all that stuff stashed in the basement that hasn’t been used in the past two years!

Stranded pilot whales.

Stranding – pilot whales, Mahurangi Pen

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

A fur seal – lazing around eyeballing fish, sneaking up on divers and frightening the bubbles out of them, and parking on the wharf having my photo taken by all the tourists. But I’d be smart enough not to grab the long line hooks!

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

We live in a pretty special part of the globe, get out there and explore it, and get involved in looking after it – whether that’s by pulling out a weed, not washing your car over a storm water grate, or by organising a community group, it’s your country, look after it.

Thelma Wilson in the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile