22 March, 2020

From Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Just a few weeks ago I was thinking that I would be getting underway for New Ireland on a trip of a lifetime with a team of  International researchers to study Becks Petrel.  It was an ambitious project that was one of the reasons I was supporting it. We had hoped to catch and tag at least another 6 birds, locate nesting burrows at 2000 metres in the mountains of southern New Ireland and visit local villages to enthuse them about the bird and conservation in general. 


Instead I am on board with my crew, Simon, Martha and Riccarda planning where to anchor for the next month(s) to avoid the virus.  All the researchers that were either here or on their way were recalled to their home countries, many of them arriving back only hours before their borders closed.   There is only one reported case of the virus in PNG at present but I think it is only a matter of time before many more are reported.  We have stocked up on food, fuel and fishing gear,  there are a lot worst places to sit this one out and there are a lot of people a lot worse off than we are. 


During the last two weeks we completed a cetacean survey along the section of the New Britain Trench which runs along the south coast of New Britain.  We ran transects during the day and anchored at local villages during the night, enjoying their hospitality and clean clear waters for swimming and snorkelling. The results of that survey will be published soon, some of the researchers are on compulsory self-isolation in their respective countries, so will have plenty of time to analgise the data. 


We have a meeting with PNG immigration on Monday to discuss our revised plans, once they are confirmed we will get underway and we will keep you posted.