Setting up camp on Nelson's Island

by ZSL on

Having very successfully completed the Diego Garcia tracking and colony counting phase of the BIOT bird expedition, the team have been joined by Principal Investigator Malc Nicoll as they prepare to leave for Nelson’s Island. With assistance from the British military and the crew of the Patrol Vessel they have loaded 21 jerry cans of fresh water, 2 of fuel, 7 expedition barrels of food, camping and communication equipment onboard. With the team ready and supplies onboard, they are finally on their way to Nelson's Island.

Hannah Wood, Postgraduate Research Assistant at the Institute of Zoology, blogs on their arrival to Nelson’s Island as they get set up and begin their next phase of research.

Hello from Nelson's Island in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Yesterday Malcolm Nicoll, Pete Carr and I were kindly dropped off by the crew of the BIOT Patrol Vessel who helped us transport all the supplies we will need for spending nearly two weeks living and working on this uninhabited island. We were very lucky with the weather and even glimpsed a pilot whale just before we reached the beach.

2018 8 July. Boat dropping the team at Nelsons Island. BIOT. Malc Nicoll.JPG
BIOT patrol team drop the sea bird team off at Nelson's Island

After carrying, lugging and man-handling everything along the beach to our chosen site, we set about building our base camp. We have a solar shower and camp beds set up underneath a tarpaulin and an office and stores areas with all our food and science equipment. We have even decorated the entrance with whale vertebrae we found on the shore and have christened it Whale Bone Camp – it’s feeling very comfortable!

2018 8 July. Setting up camp. Nelsons Island, BIOT. Malc Nicoll.JPG
Assembling the campsite

Today the real work began. We are surrounded here by hundreds of comical red footed boobies, and their smart-looking cousins, the brown boobies, which breed here. We began tagging the red foots this morning and so far we have deployed 14 GPS tags which will hopefully tell us where the birds are feeding at sea while they are raising their chicks. More on the science in a later blog, but for now it's dinner time on the beach and an opportunity to look out for nesting green turtles!

2018 8 July. Tagging a Booby. Nelsons Island, BIOT. Malc Nicoll.JPG
Pete and Hannah tag the first Red-footed Booby on Nelson's Island
2018 8 July. Tea time on Nelsons Island. BIOT. Malc Nicoll.JPG
Time to relax after the first day on the island

Keep following our updates from the field as we continue our expedition to Nelson’s island via @BIOTscience and @ZSLScience

This research was kindly funded by the Bertarelli Foundation as part of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science.

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