Thursday 27 October 2011

A change in direction

Well had almost three weeks at the Rena Spill in Tauranga.  Whilst there I was managing the Wildlife Field Operations, so during the peak of my time there we had almost 40 teams of 3-4 people each out on the beaches recovering wildlife, ranging over up to about 160km of beaches.  The work was incredibly challenging, not made any easier by political and financial grandstanding by conservation organisations who should know better, and at least one that is renowned for such antics.

But we had an incredible team of skilled people onboard, from Massey University, Maritime New Zealand and several overseas Bird Rescue and Oiled Bird response facilities.  A big thanks to Kerri Morgan, Helen McConnell, Brett Gartrell, Jim Lilley, Bill Dwyer, Phil Battley and Lynn Adams, as well as Barbara Callahan, Curt Clumpner and Mike Ziccardi.  Luckily, we had been training for such an event with regards to a Wildlife response for quite sometime, the impacts are still there, but we were able to react swiftly, with skilled trained people.  And of course then there were our trained responders and the huge number of volunteers that came out enmasse to help.  Truly wonderful to see.  And great to have such experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to call upon - people like John Dowding, David Melville and Tony Harbraken for the NZ dotterel capture, Paul Cuming and Dave Richards for taking the reins on the night penguin work and putting in so much effort, and all those teams on the beaches.  And then of course there is the massive contribution from the Department of Conservation...a government department currently stricken with the loss of around 100 jobs...the very people we have called upon in this time of need.  Let's hope this acts as a wake up call as these guys came from all around the country, eager to help, with skills, knowledge, and the logistical support we needed to lead the field teams.  It would have been a lot more difficult without them.

So with long days and not much time off it was home to repack and drive to Auckland to start again, this time a 21-day tour with Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ.  Did get to watch the All Blacks beat the French though!

M/V Rena on 7 October 2011 with Motiti Island in the right background and the mainland further beyond.

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