Henry Duffy is an MSc student studying Conservation Science at Imperial College London. For his dissertation project he has been lucky enough to land a trip to the Pitcairn Islands to study fish communities in one of the remotest places on earth! This is his blog as he conducts important research towards a fisheries management plan for the region...
If you had told me at the start of this Masters course that, come May, I would be preparing to spend my summer doing field work on one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, I would have refused to even imagine the possibility. Last September, I had high hopes that studying conservation science would lead to adventures in distant places, but nothing quite to this extent.
Upon the mention of Pitcairn Island, the reaction has often been a blank or confused look, and indeed I too had never heard of the far-flung, tiny island before applying for this research project. A couple of minutes were required just to find it on a map! It is hard to convey quite how remote Pitcairn is, but the amount of travelling necessary to get there might give you some idea. Firstly, it took roughly 32 hours of flights and changeovers just to get to Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, with scenic tours of airports in Los Angeles and Auckland on the way. Whilst in Auckland I had my first experience of a cro-nut, which was incredible, but that’s a tangent I must sadly omit for now. I did not see a kiwi (either the bird or the fruit) during my three hours in New Zealand, a bitter disappointment. However, I spotted some suspiciously invasive-looking pot plants in the departure lounge.
After all this time spent getting to Papeete, I am still not really anywhere near Pitcairn Island. Mercifully I have been fortunate enough to break up my journey with 8 days exploring and diving on some of the stunning islands of French Polynesia, a lush, colourful and vibrant part of the world which I have dreamed of seeing for years. Tomorrow, in the company of two of my supervisors, the journey to Pitcairn will continue with a 5 hour flight to the island of Mangareva, and then conclude with an epic, somewhat intimidating 32 hour voyage on the good ship Claymore II across the rolling waves of the South Pacific. Once we arrive on Pitcairn, we will undertake a 3 month assessment of the coastal ecosystems of the island. I will discuss the science, and some background to Pitcairn itself, in a future blog post once I have staggered off the boat onto this tiny speck of land in the middle of the world’s largest ocean.
Select a blog
Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.
Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.
A new Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.
Discover more about the UK's biggest zoo with our fun blog posts!
Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.
Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs
Follow the latest news on ZSL’s Arts & Culture projects at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and ZSL’s conservation work through the lens of the Arts.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.
Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.
One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.
From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.
Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica
Amur leopard conservation blog
Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!
Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.
The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.
Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.