Thursday, January 3, 2013

Walkabout Missive #3 OR Falling Off the Face of Middle Earth

I'm not going to pretend I didn't fall off the face of the earth there for a bit - Middle Earth to be precise, and then paradise after that. So, there is some catching up to do. Truth be told, I am writing this at gate 6 at John Wayne Airport on my way back to Seattle and it's evidently been almost exactly 27.5 days since I gave a second thought to my laptop, which was a fantastic Christmas gift (the lack of second thought, the laptop itself was not a Christmas gift).  

BUT, there is work to be done! I must report on my updated NZ adventure list. Then there is the Costa Rica adventure list (which, for reasons to be detailed later, is blessedly  un-photodocumented). I went tidepooling SOOO many more times since the last blog post. I seem to have been lucky enough to stumble on a bunch of relatively good daytime lows while I was in NZ.  


OK, first this assemblage of shells that were just SITTING ON THE BEACH in Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. Is there such an obscene abudance of beautiful nature in this country that they can afford to just leave literal heaps of perfect shells untouched on a public beach?!

Figure 1. Turrett shells (Maoriculpos roseus), about 3" long. My friend Tasha has some on her Kiwi Christmas Tree.

Figure 2. Yeah, another whelk that I had trouble identifying. Evidently, there are just a lot, so no one place tries to cover them all.  I'm going to take a stab at this one and guess Xymene ambiguus (good species name for a NZ whelk), the large Trophon ?

Figure 3. Cat's Eye Turbo (Turbo smaragdus)  Oh, dear, that can't be right. No, that's right, only now it's evidently in the Lunella genus.  Whatever.

After the South Island, we went to the War Museum in Auckland, which it turns out has huge awesome drawers full of specimens, including this non-marine vertebrate that I can't not put here (Figure 4, apologies for cell phone photo).

Figure 4. Ok, it might not be NZ per se, but it is horrid.

And, I didn't get any great pictures of this, so I'll subject you to a crummy one: They had an awesome, and clearly under appreciated, room on the intertidal in this museum. The dusty displays were arranged by intertidal zone (Figures 5 and 6) to look natural. They did a great job, because these zones are basically where I found this stuff!  SWOOOOOON.

Figure 5. Low-Mid intertidal shells on a mock-sandy shore.  I totally found many of these shells right where they said I would.

Figure 6.  Mid-Upper intertidal zone in same exhibit.  Note Turrett shells in top left!

OK are you totally sick of this vacation slide show yet? 


Figure 7. Woah terrifying huge funnel web!  Non-marine, but definitely awesome.

Figure 8.Wheel Shells! Zethalia zelandica. Ok, they don't look like they deserve an exclamation point in my photo.  But they are extremely impressive in real life! I swear! Here is a much better picture of what they look like in situ (when I forgot to take a picture - evidently).  You know, it's a good think I'm only NOW finding this other site, which will actually probably help me ID things I've found. But scope these guys in Figure 6 - mid-high intertidal sandy beach. I found these at Karekare beach (more on that later), which, you might like to know, is also featured in The Piano.

Then I went on this rad sailing trip in the Hauraki Gulf.  

Figure 8. Whaaat?!!! Why yes, that is a beautiful porcellanid crab from Kawau Island!

Figure 9. And 2 beautiful black neritas (Nerita melanotragus) also on Kawau. These were all on a really beautiful bed of rock oysters.

Let's see, what else have we got...

Figure 10.  Oh heck yes! A lovely cushion star on Tiri (= Tiri Tiri Matangi - an amazing conservation island. If you're ever in Auckland, take a day trip out there and see more awesome birds - Giant chickens? - than you ever thought possible.  I'm not going to show any birds here though)

Figure 11. And ooh, another rad Chiton! Chiton glaucus
Figure 12.  Kina (urchin) are a much favored food for Maori and Kiwis.  Urchins, however, are evidently not much favored by writers of shell field guides and so weren't in my book. Any guesses?
Figure 13. Yup another whelk I can't identify.  Also on Tiri at Fisherman's Cove in the arches.
Figure 14. This oystercatcher has a spine (meaning vertebral column, not like a pokey outy bit - which would be its bill), but is also really enjoyable to watch, so, for all of you who made it this far, you get a gift of seeing some "charismatic megafauna" 

And, lastly, a gimme for those of you who like plants/beautiful scenery

Figure 15.  Every once in a while, I did look up from the ground. View from Tiri.  Pohutukawa (NZ Christmas tree) in foreground

OK, and one more little late Christmas gift:

This now concludes our tour of NZ Shell fauna (oh, except two surprises I'm reserving for later...)

Hei kona

References and Miscellany:
You're in luck! There is no fine print (this bit notwithstanding).  Just pretty pictures today!

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the pictures! i'm glad you didn't think about your laptop for so long. that sounds rad. :)