Saturday, September 27, 2014

Probably my last post for this trip

Above is the official conference photo. It was the most efficiently taken group photo of any conference I have attended. Usually it is like herding cats to get everyone gathered, and then it takes a long time to get people positioned so everyone's face can be seen.

If you want to know more about this IAMSLIC conference, you can go to the conference web site at:

Here you will find links to the conference program, a list of attendees, etc.

Thanks to Kris Anderson, there are also daily summaries of what took place during the conference which can be read on the IAMSLIC blog at:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Some photos for my birder friends

Here are some birds I saw in New Zealand.  Joan, are you going to verify my bird IDs?

These two photos were taken at Wenderholm Regional Park, my very first stop after arriving in New Zealand.

purple swamp hen or PÅ«keko
Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus

Red-breasted Dotterel
Charadrius obscurus

This photo was taken south of Rotorua either at the "Green Lake" Rotokakahi or the "Blue Lake" Tikitapu.

white-faced heron
Egretta novaehollandiae

This was taken at the lake in Hobbiton, the movie location built by Peter Jackson.

New Zealand dabchick
Poliocephalus rufopectus

These photos were taken in a park on the north side of Rotorua Lake.

little shags or cormorants
Phalacrocorax brevirostris

black swan
Cygnus atratus

This photo was taken in Long Bay, Coromandel.

New Zealand oyster catchers
Haematopus unicolor

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Post-snorkel picnic on Maitre Islet

After three hours of snorkeling, Oli brought us to Maitre Islet, an exclusive resort with over-the-water accommodations that is about 3 nautical miles from Noumea.

Maitre Islet pier and over-the-water accommodations

After a delicious picnic lunch of baguette, cheeses, meats, and fresh fruit, Jeanine and Steve settled in for an afternoon nap.

Jeanine and Steve enjoying a post-lunch nap

Kris and I took the time to do a little terrestrial exploring. I managed to walk completely around the island that is 700 meters long and covers about 6 hectares.

beach on the backside of Maitre Islet

It was worth it because I finally got to see my first and only sea snake as it emerged from the water to slither across the sand right in front of me on its way to curl up in the shade of the dunes vegetation.

sea snake crossing the beach
Laticauda saintgironsi

Oli offered to drop us off on the beach right in front of our hotel which gave me the opportunity to get a photo of our place from the water.

Casa del Sole as viewed from the water

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Post Conference snorkel trip

Many of the conference attendees went on a day trip to Amedee Island. This included a glass bottom boat ride, a barrier reef cruise, drinks, a buffet lunch, and cultural demonstrations including dancing, climbing a coconut tree, and tying a sarong. Snorkeling was an option for an extra fee, but for me I wanted to spend as much time in the water as I could. I tried to find someone to take me out snorkeling for the day, but I was having a hard time finding anyone who was available. Mary-Clare stepped in and save the day. She found Oli who runs the Coconut Watertaxi. I recruited three others to join me - Steve, Kris, and Jeanine. You can check out Oli's services at:

Mary-Clare loaned us her ice chest and gave us two bags of ice. Her husband picked us up at our hotel and took us to the boat ramp were we met Oli at 8 am on Friday. Mary-Clare, her staff, and the Fijian librarians were such wonderful hosts throughout the conference, and this was definitely above and beyond the call of duty.

The four of us spent around 3 hours snorkeling in two different areas. The first had high reaching coral heads with sand channels about 20 to 25 feet deep around them. The variety of hard coral species was impressive as was the size of many of the coral heads. The second spot was much more shallow with the corals so close to the surface you couldn't swim over the reef. Instead we swam around the edge of the reef. Here the sand channels were closer to 10 feet deep. The water was also warmer because of the shallow depth and the sun reflecting off the white sand in the channels. I was glad I brought my "Palmyra" wetsuit as I was cold by the time we finished our first dive in the colder, deeper water.

Jeanine & Kris enjoying our ride out to the barrier reef

view of the coral reef from the boat

Here are some coral photos to give you an idea of the number of species and how large some of the coral heads are. I felt New Caledonia and Fiji were much more impressive in terms of corals than what I saw diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Of course the GBR is huge, and I might not have been diving in the best spot. Did you know that the barrier reef of New Caledonia is the world's second largest after Australia's GBR?

Here are some fish photos. I felt the GBR had schools of larger fish that I did not see here. In terms of number of fish, Fiji had more than both New Caledonia and Australia. There were clouds of small fish off the island where Steve and I dove when we visited Fiji in 2008.

honeycomb grouper
Epinephelus merra

blue damsel fishes + one Humbug
Pomacentrus pavo
Dascyllus anuanus

reef lizardfish
Synodus variegatus

yellow long nose butterflyfish on left
Forcipiger flavissimus

southseas devil or Fiji damsel
Chrysiptera taupou

steephead parrotfish
Chlorurus microrhinos

a pair of oval butterflyfish
Chaetodon lunulatus

On to the invertebrates. First we have some echinoderms.

red slate pencil urchin
Heterocentrotus mammillatus

rock-boring sea urchin
Echinometra mathaei

leopard sea cucumber
Bohadschia argus

Here are some mollusks.

tiger cowrie
Cypraea tigris

Can you pick out the two giant clams in this photo?

close up of one of the two giant clams
Tridacna sp.

Here is a picture of Kris checking out the ship wreck on the outside of the barrier reef as we motor between snorkel sites.

Kris Anderson looking at the Ever ProsperityII wreck on the distant reef

After our snorkel, Oli dropped us off on Maitre Islet where we had our picnic lunch. That will be the topic of my next blog entry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A few miscellaneous pictures

Here are a few random photographs from my time in New Caledonia.

After the conference there was an Aquatic Commons Work Party, but there were problems creating accounts. For those who had accounts, it kept bumping us off and asking to login again. We decided to take our assignments as homework and left early. This meant we had a little free time late Thursday afternoon so Jeanine, Steve, Kris, and I went to the Aquarium. It was a very nice small aquarium.

Jeanine & Steve at Aquarium's entrance

One of the nice things about our apartment/hotel, was the great view from the balconies off every room. We could see both sides of the narrow peninsula from the balcony off Janet's room. Here is a view of Duck Island just offshore.

Duck Island seen from our apartment

There were also some spectacular sunsets. Here are a few.

Sun setting behind an offshore island

Sunset reflection on the water

Sailing at sunset
And then there was the food. We has some great meals. Here are a couple examples.

bacon and scallops at the l'Astrolabe restaurant

Stone Grill where you cook your own meat on a hot stone

At the Stone Grill, your meat selection is brought to you raw on a large volcanic stone that is very hot and you cook it yourself. There were lots of beef cuts from New Caledonia and New Zealand cattle. This was more meat than I generally like to eat, but Jeanine asked if she could order from the children's menu, and when they said yes I followed suit.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The IAMSLIC conference banquet

Mary-Clare and her team arranged for an amazing spread of food and entertainment for our annual banquet. The spread of cold seafoods was so diverse and plentiful, I don't think some people ever got to the long row of hot dishes.

Following our meal there was a dancing show. I think I lost weigh just watching them dance. This was followed by another buffet of desserts. I struggled not to try each one. Finally the celebratory 40th anniversary cake was brought in and the Pacific Islands contingency sang. Wow!

Amy filling her plate with seafood

Great food

The female dancers

The male dancers

the dessert buffet

Daryl carrying in the IAMSLIC 40th anniversary cake

Le Petit Train tour of Noumea

One afternoon we had a break from our meetings for a tour of the city on Le Petit Train. The train would honk its horn, and people would wave at the crazy tourists. The horn was honked frequently, so we did a lot of hand waving.

all aboard at SPC for our tour of Noumea on the Le Petit Train

great views of the city from one of the hills

The red roof area is not Stanford, but Aussie Town - the Australians like to build houses with red roofs

another high vantage point for taking pictures - Sally, Kris, Steve

Looking down at Casa Del Sole (tall building)
The beach on this side had lots of wind surfing and parasail surfing.

Verenaisi Bavadra on canon
    nice view from the hilltop
Sally Taylor and Lyra Pagulayan