The first half of the trip had given us a full spectrum of Subantarctic wind, rain, and swell. Thankfully our long steam from Campbell Island to the Antipodes Islands, around 750km, saw the swell and wind easing and staying calm for the remainder of the voyage.
On the way we had a short talk on Antipodean albatross conservation by one of the guests on board, Sue Maturin. Sue is a conservation legend, and a wealth of knowledge on marine protection and seabird conservation. She explained to us how the entire Antipodean albatross population is projected to decline to 500 breeding pairs within 20 years at the current rates. Their main threat is bycatch in longline fisheries in international waters, exacerbated by climate change which is decreasing their historical food supply and increasing the birds interactions with fisheries. Shortly before our visit to the island two researchers had arrived to continue with the Antipodean albatross monitoring project, as well as carrying out other seabird monitoring. Some albatross have had GPS trackers fitted to better understand how the interact with foreign fisheries. You can check them out on an interactive map – their range is impressive, but it also highlights the difficulty of trans-boundary conservation: https://docnewzealand.shinyapps.io/albatrosstracker/
The lack of wind meant we had limited visibility in sea fog during the day in transit between island groups, persisting the next day as we arrived at the Antipodes. Visible on the radar and plotter but not to the eye, eventually the dark base of the island appeared as the fog lifted by a few metres. The Spirit stopped in Ringdove Bay at the Southeast of the island as passengers lined the deck to take in the scene. Sharp basalt cliffs rose into the fog, pockmarked with rocks blasted into the then-lava when the island group was formed. Green grasses, tussocks and megaherbs grow where they can, white lichens adding to the palette of green and black. The island looked like something straight out of a Jurassic Park movie.