My first week (not even - 5 days!) in Aotearoa New Zealand has been absolutely spectacular. I arrived just in time to see the historic Kupe Landing event of the New Zealand Festival. Kupe was a great Oceanic explorer and navigator, and the first Polynesian to discover Aotearoa. His landing was celebrated by 4 waka hourua (the big double-hulled voyaging canoes), including one that sailed from Samoa, the Gaualofa, landing on the beach in Petone where Kupe had landed. The ceremony was full of haka, dancing, singing, and the children greeted the waka in the water and got to explore the Gaualofa on deck.
Green abalone used to be incredibly abundant in southern California, but they were heavily overfished. Get Inspired, run by Nancy Caruso, is working to correct that! They are spawning green abalone from the wild (pictured below), and the babies will be placed out in the wild once they're big enough.
Red abalone fishing harvest. Fishers donated the guts from their catches to my research. I am using these samples to determine how environmental change from diseases and temperature stress affect abalone in the wild.
In Crystal Cove State Park, I work with the Crystal Cove Conservancy to educate the public about abalone. Here, a grade school student gets up close and personal with a red abalone.
A red abalone looks (yes! they have eyes!) at the camera as it poses for a photograph. A student is holding the abalone as she learn about red abalone at Crystal Cove State Park.
Red abalone mimic Lady and the Tramp during public feedings at Crystal Cove State Park. This is true love.
A Galápagos tortoise stuffs his face. Galápagos tortoises are incredibly threatened. Since this photo was taken in 2010, one of the 16 remaining species (Pinta) went extinct when Lonesome George passed away. Invasive species, poaching, climate change, and habitat destruction continue to threaten their existence.
At the Galápagos Conservancy, these juveniles are reared in captivity until they’re ready to go out into the wild. These little guys are the future of their species!
The Galápagos Conservancy is doing critical work to protect and rehabilitate Galápagos tortoises. This involves breeding tortoises, including species extinct in the wild. Here, a scientist shows off a hatching. (2010)
Galápagos tortoises face an uphill battle. Habitat destruction, invasive species, and long life histories make it difficult for these species to bounce back.
Galápagos tortoises and I have something in common. We both come running for a decent (and free!) vegan salad. Herbivores rock!
All photos © Alyssa Frederick