To: birding-nz <>, birding-aus <>
From: Philip Griffin <>
Date: Fri, 17 May 2013 06:49:29 +1200
Reposting here from Seabird News:

An eight-person expedition team, led by Peter Harrison, returned from seas
south of Noumea, New Caledonia, last week after six days of off-shore
seabird research. The team included Chris Gaskin, a leading figure in the
rediscovery and subsequent ongoing research of the New Zealand Storm-Petrel
whose breeding grounds he helped discover just a few weeks ago. The New
Caledonian expedition team carried out 16 chum-drops over the six-day
expedition period in waters ranging from 800 to 1685 metres deep. Included
in the species photographs at the chum slicks was the mysterious
storm-petrel originally unearthed during the recent West Pacific Odyssey
voyages by Chris Collins, et al, and generally referred to as the New
Caledonia Storm-Petrel.

As yet not formally described, the unnamed storm-petrel was recorded on all
six days of the expedition, with 21 sightings in total. The chum-slicks
were deployed to entice the mysterious storm-petrel within range of the
same powerful air-powered, four-barrel net guns that had successfully
captured the recently discovered Pincoya Storm-Petrel *Oceanites pincoyae*,
in seas off Chile in 2011. The New Caledonia Storm-Petrel, however, proved
much more difficult to entice within range of the net guns than the Pincoya
Storm-Petrel. The guns were fired just twice over the six-day period, with
the net narrowly missing the intended target on both occasions.****

In appearance, the mysterious storm-petrel resembles the New Zealand
Storm-Petrel but is larger, with proportionately longer wings and tail,
different flight and feeding habits. Observations over the six-day period
of the unnamed taxon suggest that it is a member of the *Frigata* genus and
probably closely related to the New Zealand Storm-Petrel which also has
prominently streaked underparts and white in the underwing.****

The New Caledonia seabird expedition was preceded by a week-long expedition
by Harrison and his wife Shirley Metz to seas off the Solomon Islands where
several thousand images of the near mythical Heinroth’s Shearwater *Puffinus
heinrothi* were taken. Images from the Solomon Heinroth expedition and the
New Caledonia expedition can be viewed at the Seattle-based Zegrahm
Expeditions website(**<>

Other species seen and photographed by Harrison during the past month in
the West Pacific include Vanuatu and Beck’s petrels; Magnificent, Collared
and Gould’s petrels; plus White-bellied Storm-Petrel.

Philip Griffin

mobile +64 27 217 9911

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