New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

daisy tree forest where they have their nests among the tree roots. It is fascinating to note that though these nest burrow excavations can cause damage to the daisy trees, the penguins are good stewards of their nest sites because they move around from year to year on the island, allowing the trees to recover. Too bad we humans can’t learn to conserve our resources that way! If there wasn’t so much overfishing in these waters, perhaps the Hooker sea lions and the penguins would not be losing their young to starvation. We went though arches & tunnels of granite carved by the incessant action of the tides. We were alternately wet and dry depending on the vagaries of the weather. These lonely islands in the windswept Southern Ocean are really quite spectacular. Their high basaltic cliff faces and the sea stacks around their peripheries are cold and glowering. The abundant plant life, both terrestrial and marine, softens the harshness and the wonderful animals who call these places home prove that the islands are not hostile to life. It is amusing to watch the penguins stand uncertainly at the sea’s edge, seeming to summon up their courage to plunge into the sea. They often choose to leap into the waving and beckoning kelp leaves rather than directly into the surging waves. Maybe the kelp cushions the fall? All this activity occurred during our morning Zodiac exploration. In the afternoon, we had another look at the island’s treasures! The squally rains kept spattering us intermittently and the sea had gotten a bit rougher at first, but then after a really slow transition, the sun burst out of the heavy clouds and blue sky won the field. While our clothes steamed in the drying sunlight, we continued to look in amazement and awe at beautiful Snare’s Island. How wonderful it is that DOC has been able to keep this island pristine and entirely inhabited by only native wildlife and plants!

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