by Isla Huffadine

The Science Department

Otago Peninsula Wildlife - Year 13 Biology

In early March, the Year 13 class had an exciting day on the Otago Peninsula viewing the behaviour of royal albatross and shags. Taiaroa Head is a busy place at this time of year, with royal albatross, shags, and red billed gulls all completing their breeding cycles on the Peninsula. The adult albatross are busy coming and going to feed their newly hatched chicks, while the adolescent albatross are busy trying out their courtship moves in hopes of attracting a mate. With so much courtship and feeding going on, the Year 13 Biology class had many opportunities to admire the three-metre wingspan of these majestic birds.

The knowledgeable educators at The Royal Albatross Centre gave us insight into current research results and techniques. Of particular relevance to our studies were the migration patterns of the albatross.

After the Royal Albatross Centre we hopped on board The Monarch Wildlife Cruise to get a view of the various bird and seal colonies from the ocean. The students put up with some pretty rough seas just outside the harbour (appropriately named “The Washing Machine”), but seeing the courtship behaviour of the albatross up close made the waves well worth it. We are so lucky to be able to observe these fascinating animals so close to our school. 

Image by: Isla Huffadine

Biology of Blueskin Bay - Year 12 Biology

On March 29th the Year 12 Biology class headed to Blueskin Bay, to complete shore transects to count and identify the organisms of the intertidal mudflats. As always, the students were focused and incredibly enthusiastic about counting the various clams, crabs, worms and shellfish they found in each quadrat. The sampling conditions were ideal and over 40 different species were counted. 

Students now have the task of identifying each species found and researching how they interact to create the distribution patterns observed on the shore. This is always an interesting field trip as students learn the skills used by many ecologists, resource managers and conservationists to assess the health of an ecosystem.

Special thanks go out to Korena Paterson and Nigel St Louis who gave their assistance in the field.

Mr St Louis discussing sampling techniques with the Year 12 Biologists — Image by: Isla Huffadine