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
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Ever wondered what a typical day as a zookeeper looks like, or what it's like to be a videographer at ZSL? Now you can find out!
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
Get updates on our latest ranges, be the first to hear about special offers, and find the perfect gift for animal lovers!
The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.