Wednesday, April 21, 2010


14- 17 April: BISMARK SEA & NEW IRELAND, PAPAU NEW GUINEA. We spent the next
four days, at sea within the boundaries of Papau New Guinea waters in the
Bismark archipelago, offshore from Bougainville Island and New Ireland. Our
main target and hope was to find the recently rediscovered Beck's Petrel, a
Critically Endangered species. Until its rediscovery in 2007 by Hadoram
Shirihai, it was only known from two specimens collected in the 1920s. These
two specimens were collected by Rollo Beck in 1928 and 1929 during the
Whitney South Sea Expedition. Beck was the first ornithologist to use chum
to attract seabirds. The petrel was thought to be extinct. After more than
79 years, Hadoram mounted an expedition during which he was able to document
the species with conclusive photographs. Using four tons of grated fish for
chum over the course of 67 hours, Hadoram rediscovered the Beck's Petrel.
Although we had nowhere near the amount of chum or time that Hadoram had on
his expedition, we did achieve success! Everyone on board was able to
observe about 4 to 6 individual Beck's Petrels, sometimes in direct
comparison with the similar, but larger, Tahiti Petrels on 15 April. In
addition, another highlight of this region was sightings of about 10
Heinroth's Shearwaters on 13 April, as we were departing the Solomon
Islands. This little known shearwater has been seen by only a few people.
Another highlight was sighting Sperm Whales, False Killer Whales and Dwarf
Pygmy Sperm Whales, logging on the sea. Elated and thrilled, we continued
our journey on board the "Spirit of Enderby" on the flat, calm, hot, humid
sultry seas.
Debi Shearwater, reporting from the Bismark Archipelago

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