New Zealand ‘Lord of the Rings’ volcano eruption?


This video from New Zealand is called Mt Ruapehu Crater Climb (February, 2016).

Mount Ruapehu is well-known because much of the movie The Lord of the Rings was filmed there; scenes depicting Mordor and Mount Doom.

From the New Zealand Herald:

Ruapehu on alert after 20C rise

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

By Chris Schulz

Mt Ruapehu’s risk of eruption may have increased, but GNS volcanologists say nearby residents should not feel concerned.

GNS today announced the mountain’s crater lake temperature had doubled in the past few weeks, rising from 25C to between 45C and 46C over the past couple of days.

Duty volcanologist Geoff Kilgour says scientists made two visits to Ruapehu yesterday, one flight to measure the gas output and other to sample the crater lake water and make additional ground-based gas measurements.

Volcanic gas measurements indicate an increase in the amount of both carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) output … Seismic activity at Mt Ruapehu is usually dominated by volcanic tremor. Since the volcanic earthquakes in late April the seismicity has been dominated by volcanic tremor at varying levels. The level of tremor has increased but is not exceptional in terms of the last few years.”

Volcanologist Brad Scott has quashed a few “urban myths” about why there is currently an increasing level of activity in the volcano.

“It’s got nothing to do with weather. And White Island, they’re [volcanoes] all independent of each other.”

Mr Scott says the activity is caused by molten lava getting trapped inside the volcano itself.

“When that new pulsar heat and hot rock comes into the volcano it’s whether or not it can flow through the volcano and get out of it and if the holes in the volcano aren’t big enough to let the gas through it just over pressurises and pops.”

And for those in surrounding towns worried that a lahar will swamp them, Mr Scott says debris is unlikely to travel more than a few kilometres from the volcano itself.

“One of the biggest eruptions, in 1995, only a few blots got past the 3km or 4km mark and that was really rare. Being away from the volcano is very safe and even the standard places you can go. Different story if you go and climb the thing and you’re camping at the crater lake or something.”

As for where it travels, Mr Scott says the majority head out towards the Desert Rd but there have been some eruptions producing lahar on the northern side.

“If you’re at the ski lodges, they’re safe as. Ruapehu only affects within about 3km of the lake and the nearest part of the ski fields are about 4km or 5km away so it does make it a fairly safe environment and the rest, once off you’re off the bottom of the volcano, nothing can touch you.”

Mr Scott says Ruapehu Alpine Lifts has shifted all of its infrastructure – ski tows, towers, cafes – out of the valleys in case it did head in that direction.

As for how the volcanic unrest occurs? “That’s the $64,000 science question of volcanologists all over the world.”

The Department of Conservation also issued a warning to climbers and trampers on the mountain, to not enter the Summit Hazard Zone on Mt Ruapehu until further notice.

The Summit Hazard Zone is the area within 2km of the centre of the crater lake.

It encompasses all the peaks in the summit area, with Te Heuheu Peak at the north end of the summit area at the edge of the zone, and the upper Turoa skifield at the south.

Climbers and trekkers should refer to the Summit Hazard Zone map or use their map and GPS reading skills, to determine when they are approaching the zone.

“We recommend climbers, trampers and walkers do not enter the zone,” said Paul Carr, DoC‘s operations manager for Tongariro.

“Guiding companies should also heed the advice and not take people into the zone.”

No ski areas, other facilities or roads on Ruapehu or elsewhere in Tongariro National Park – including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – are affected by this warning.

French state terrorism against Greenpeace ship, documentary film


This video says about itself:

The Rainbow Warrior – Trailer

13 April 2016

The Rainbow Warrior: It would go down as one of the first acts of state-sponsored terrorism

Available on iTunes: here.

The plot summary is:

The Rainbow Warrior had set out to protest against French nuclear testing. But in the late hours of July 10th 1985, as the laughter and birthday celebrations of the crew filled the air, two French divers were planting two bombs on the bottom of the Rainbow Warrior. When the bombs exploded the ship was sunk, one man was killed, and a ten year battle between New Zealand and France began.

“If all they were trying to was to stop us then they could have done it in far less spectacular ways”, says head of Greenpeace, Steve Sawyer. In fact, the options of poisoning the diesel or using a single bomb were preferred by all agents involved.

But Charles Henu, an alcoholic and a womanizer and also the French Minister of Defence, was determined to strengthen French military independence. He dispatched three action teams for ‘Operation Satanic‘, many of whom speak here for the first time. “Of course I regret that somebody died”, says Dr. Xavier Maniquet, “but we were just following orders”.

His crew were part of action team 2 and had a near miss with the New Zealand government. Agents Marfur and Prieur from action team one were not so lucky. After making a series of phone calls to a known DGSE number in France, they were intercepted and imprisoned.

Yet what about the action team responsible for planting the bomb in the first place? Head of Operation Satanic, Louis Dillais, now sells arms to US Special Forces in the war against Terror. Banned from speaking by the French government, he can only hint: “No one wanted it to go this far”. The French government’s report on the mission was a whitewash – no second bombs, and some of the men in this documentary wiped from the pages of history. Yet the evidence of the New Zealand Police made a mockery of the cover-up. Speaking about the mission for the first time the former Prime Minister speaks revealingly of how the details of the mission were kept from him. This eye-opening investigation lays the secret workings of a government bare.

New Zealand wildlife, new plan


This video says about itself:

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

6 November 2011

Forest & Bird has been protecting and restoring New Zealand’s natural environment since 1923. We are a not-for-profit independent registered charity that dedicated to the conservation of wild life and wild landscapes in New Zealand.

We are a community based organization. We have 50 volunteer branches throughout New Zealand. Our 3000 active volunteers manage and restore native forest and wetlands on our land and on public land. Each year they set over 10,000 traps and plant over 200,000 trees on our land and on public land. Our contribution to New Zealand since 1923 has been immense, as the Governor General Sir Anand Satyand said in 2009, “It would be difficult to imagine New Zealand without the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.”

From BirdLife:

Forest & Bird launches ambitious strategy for New Zealand’s nature

By Mike Britton, Fri, 18/03/2016 – 03:15

At the end of 2015 Forest & Bird (BirdLife New Zealand) launched its new strategic plan. It is ambitious and based on the vision of, in Aotearoa (New Zealand), ecological resilience being at the heart of everything the community does. Its mission is to protect and restore nature.

Reducing climate-damaging emissions, building resilience in ecosystems and promoting an economy that is both sustainable and enhances biodiversity are key parts of the strategy. For bird and nature lovers the control and eventually eradication of introduced rodents, mustelids and possums, that have so decimated New Zealand’s ecology is a key, aspirational, but potentially achievable goal.

Over its 75 year history, the protection of New Zealand’s natural areas has been a key focus for Forest & Bird and now it wants to make sure that these hard fought for protected areas are fully protected and managed against threats. The challenge goes on to see protected areas on land extended to protect the full range of the county’s natural heritage. A big part of that work will be built around finishing the identification of terrestrial Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and seeing them projected.

Forest & Bird has recently completed identification of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) at sea and on land for marine and coastal birds. It is starting further work to identify IBAs for terrestrial birds. As part of its strategy for managing threatened species, Forest & Bird aims that all IBAs in New Zealand have been protected or are being managed to ensure species recovery by 2040. With its 50 community based branches, Forest & Bird has the capacity on the ground to achieve this goal.

With almost a third of New Zealand’s terrestrial areas in protective status, protection of the marine environment lags well behind. The strategy aims for a comprehensive and representative network of marine protected areas with ecological integrity established over at least 30% of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone within 10 years. The recent agreement by the Government to establish a 620,000 square kilometre marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands, as result of a campaign by Forest & Bird and other partners, gives hope this target is also achievable.

An exciting new part the strategy identifies that nature does not recognise political boundaries. Many of New Zealand’s indigenous species migrate through the region and across oceans. Forest & Bird intends to work with partners in the Pacific and globally to protect and restore the habitats of New Zealand’s indigenous species, wherever they migrate. Building international partnerships and also undertaking international projects to enhance the protection or habitat of a New Zealand migratory species is part of the strategy.

Ambitious the strategy is, but for New Zealand’s biggest and oldest nature conservation agency, and its 70,000 members and supporters, achieving the impossible has never been a restraint.

The strategy can be downloaded here.

Forest & Bird and Birds New Zealand complete the identification of New Zealand’s Marine Important Bird Areas: here.

Baby blue whale nursing, video


This video says about itself:

Baby Blue Whale Nursing (Exclusive Drone Footage)

2 March 2016

While researching pygmy blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight region of New Zealand, Leigh Torres used a drone to capture footage of a baby blue whale nursing. This is believed to be the first time that aerial footage has documented the nursing behavior of this endangered marine species.

Good Chatham Island tāiko news from New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Magenta Petrel, 15th January 2016, Sweetwater, Chatham Island

29 January 2016

Two of an estimated population of 100 birds. Perhaps the rarest petrel on earth. The ‘Taiko‘ is the focus of a recovery program centered around Sweetwater camp. The team of conservationists and their conservation work deserve attention.

From BirdLife:

Record breeding season for Chatham Island tāiko

By Kimberley Collins – Fledge Media, Thu, 25/02/2016 – 21:00

This year’s Critically Endangered Chatham Island tāiko breeding season has produced a record number of chicks. 22 birds hatched from 26 eggs, blowing the previous record of 13 chicks out of the water.

The Chatham Island tāiko, also known as Magenta Petrel Pterodroma magentae, is one of New Zealand’s most endangered species, with less than 150 birds left. They were thought to be extinct for almost a century until they were rediscovered by David Crockett in 1978. It wasn’t until 10 years later that the first signs of breeding were found on a remote corner of the Chathams.

Chatham Island Tāiko Trust coordinator Mike Bell is thrilled with the news and says it will be a great step towards protecting these critically endangered petrels. “For a bird as endangered as tāiko – it’s an amazing boost. There are only 26 pairs of these birds in the whole world (the rest are too young to breed), so every chick counts in protecting and building the population.” The breeding season was not without drama as the 22nd chick to hatch was raised as a “foster egg” after it was left by a pair of first-time breeders who laid the egg in the wrong part of the burrow. “We suspect they weren’t ready to breed because they didn’t lay their egg in the chamber of the burrow like usual. It looks like the female literally dumped the egg and left, then the male just stood around outside their burrow and didn’t sit on the egg for about 10 days before going off out to sea.”

One of the Taiko Trust staff members found the exposed egg, put it in his lunchbox, and quickly rushed it over to another pair who were sitting on an egg, which they had previously damaged. “These birds live in a burrow 3 metres deep – it’s completely dark in there and one of the parents could have accidentally stood on the egg or knocked it around a bit. It’s a dangerous life for a seabird egg or chick” says Mike Bell. “We weren’t even sure if the egg was fertile, but left it for a month then put a light behind it to see if there was a foetus – and there was! It was very exciting!”

But the new egg was laid much later than the foster parent’s original egg, so they had to stay in the burrow to incubate the egg for an extra two weeks. “We hoped for two weeks that they wouldn’t give up and stay on the egg. It was quite nerve-wracking. We checked every day to make sure an adult was still on the egg.” Finally the foster egg hatched earlier this week, signalling the final phase of this year’s breeding season. From now, the chicks will stay on the nest while both parents take turns going to sea to forage for food before fledging in May.

“Chick number 22 was a real bonus chick to be honest! Full credit goes to the foster pair for sticking it out and staying on the nest much longer.”

Rare New Zealand duck news


This video says about itself:

Rare pāteke birds relocated to new home

21 January 2016

One of New Zealand’s rarest mainland waterfowl is on the comeback with the help of local iwi and Forest and Bird. 80 pāteke were released into their new habitat in west Auckland yesterday in a bid to pull the species out of potential extinction.

See also here.

New Zealand fairy terns threatened by greed and ignorance


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

22 May 2014

Forest & Bird is working to create an alternative breeding site for our critically endangered New Zealand Fairy Tern on the Kaipara harbour. They once nested right around the North island, however now it has only four breeding sites in Northland — all of which lie adjacent to large coastal developments. Predation by cats, ferrets and stoats during the breeding season has worsened their population outlook, and although many of the sites have pest control, it’s people that remain their biggest threat.

Recently we received an ASB community trust grant to establish this alternative breeding site on the Kaipara Harbour and over the next three years, we will create a suitable shell-bank and conduct weeding and pest control in the area to lure breeding fairy terns to this spit. Click here for more information about our project; and click here to help Forest & Bird to continue to help fairy tern and develop other conservation projects.

From BirdLife:

New Zealand Fairy Tern – critically endangered tiny tern faces new threat

By Karen Baird, Tue, 26/01/2016 – 02:22

Around half of the ten or so New Zealand Fairy Tern pairs remaining in the world breed at the beautiful Northland harbour of Mangawhai. They nest on the enormous sandspit where the Department of Conservation and NZ Fairy Tern Trust maintain a trapping programme for predators and the nests are closely monitored during the breeding season. However in recent years the so-called Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society (MHRS) have decided they want a mangrove-free harbour and applied to the planning authorities to allow removal of mangroves. In 2012 the Environment Court allowed for some removal in the middle harbour which was carried out this past winter. Conservationists have been concerned that removal of mangroves would deplete one of their major food resources, the gobies which live and feed amongst the mangrove pneumatophores. A foraging study was carried out by Karen Baird from the New Zealand BirdLife partner, Forest & Bird in collaboration with other scientists and published in Bird Conservation International (Ismar et al, 2014: Foraging Ecology and Choice of Feeding Habitat of the New Zealand Fairy Tern Sternula nereis davisae). The study showed that NZ Fairy Terns feed their chicks on these mangrove inhabiting gobies, preying on them when they move out of the mangroves at lower tide levels and into channels and pools on the tidal flats.

MHRS have now unveiled plans for a ‘stage two’, to remove more mangroves. This is despite a ruling already by the Environment Court that the area they’ve targeted should remain. There is increasing pressure in northern New Zealand from Tauranga northwards for councils to relax planning rules around mangroves which have previously enjoyed reasonable protection due to their high ecological values.

Mangroves are continually the target of prejudice, considerable misunderstanding and what amounts to a concerted campaign often based on misinformation. These negative views on mangroves include that they are: an introduced ‘pest’ plant which is taking over our northern harbours, limiting people from enjoying open space for speed boats and jet skis; obstacles to marina developments and reclamations, and are seen by developers as reducing the attractiveness of the coastal properties they hope to sell.

Mangroves are native to New Zealand. Their ecological value as nurseries for marine life is well known, they are home to threatened bird species such as the Australasian Bittern and Banded Rail, and act as natural buffers protecting shorelines from erosion.

For the NZ Fairy Tern more mangrove removal could spell disaster, if it is not already too late given the extent of the clearance work to date. It is critical that these terns can access productive foraging grounds near to their breeding sites, especially along the mangrove lined channels of the Mangawhai Harbour. This allows sufficiently frequent nuptial feeding of the nesting female when she’s incubating, chick feeding and post-fledgling tuition which runs for an extended period in this species. There are warning signs from across the Tasman. The reproductive failure in the closely related Australian Fairy Tern at Coorong was the result of lack of suitable prey near their foraging grounds. Baird and colleagues are now conducting a follow-up study of the goby population in the harbour since removal of mangroves so far. In addition Forest & Bird is engaging with the Northland Regional Council who are reviewing their planning documents to encourage recognition of this site (as well as others) as an Important Bird Area requiring greater protection, not less.