Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spotted shags, fur seals, and yellow eyed penguins at Katiki Point

After leaving Moeraki Boulders, we went to the southern point of the small peninsula to Katiki Point. Katiki Point boasts a lighthouse, paua diving (paua is the Maori word for abalone), and viewing of fur seals, yellow eyed penguins, little blue penguins, spotted shags, stewart island shags, and other seabirds.

This adorable donation box greeted us at the parking lot.

This pretty much sums up New Zealand in a single photo.

A female NZ fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) hauled out on some rocks.

This NZ fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) woke up from a nap in the sun when we approached.

A single Stewart Island shag (Phalacrocorax chalconotus) flies across the water.

A trio of spotted shags (Strictocarbo punctatus) at Katiki Point.

At Katiki Point, there's an entire rookery of spotted shags (Strictocarbo punctatus) which can be easily approached and photographed.

Two spotted shags (Strictocarbo punctatus) being somewhat goofy.

Spotted shags (Strictocarbo punctatus) get their name from the numerous black spots on their wings. Between those (which you cannot really appreciate unless you get close), the white and black stripes on the neck and head, and the blue eye patch - these guys are easily the most beautiful cormorants.

More spotted shags (Strictocarbo punctatus).

Even more spotted shags (Strictocarbo punctatus).

Nic and I found this fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) pup carcass, which demonstrates fairly well a taphonomic observation of mine regarding the early loss of rostral elements in otariid pinnipeds. Unless a carcass is pretty fresh, the maxillae, nasals, and premaxillae are often lost - leaving just the braincase. I've got a manuscript in preparation on this topic at the moment.

Nic, Sarah, and Maria waiting in the penguin blind. We spotted 8 yellow eyed penguins in only an hour.

A subadult yellow eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) has some trouble negotiating the surf. This poor guy got knocked around by waves about four times.

A single adult yellow eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) just outside the blind.

Another yellow eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) comes ashore in the afternoon. This individual had less distinctive head coloring, suggesting it was a bit younger.

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