Unknown dragonfly sp., Mt. Austen, Honiora (Guadalcanal), Solomon Islands – R. Rudland
This is Melanesia – specifically, one of the marvelous dancers at Choiseul – R. Rudland
The Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) is a fully ice-strengthened vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research. With 50 berths, she’s perfect for expedition travel – R. Rudland
Where’s Melanesia? Here’s the context…the Pacific is a very BIG ocean…
…and here are the places we stopped…
There’s clear water in the Solomons – R. Rudland
Before we explore some of the natural and cultural marvels of the region, let’s remind ourselves of the important military significance of the area. Guadalcanal, the sinking of John F Kennedy’s PT-109, the Battle of the Coral Sea, all of these and many more events took place here.
Relics of World War II abound. These are the remnants of a Japanese aircraft, in this case a Mitsubishi “Zero” fighter – R. Rudland
Others sail these waters too – this is a Spinner Dolphin at Tetepa – R. Rudland
and this is a Dugong at Vanuatu – one of the creatures on my “wish-list” – R. Rudland
Flying fish are neat – and hard to photograph! Exocetus sp, Solomon Islands – R. Rudland
Everywhere we landed we encountered music – and dancers. This lady is at Bipi Island, Papua New Guinea – R. Rudland
The traditional trade and culture was impressive. These are models of ocean-going canoes at Vanuatu – R. Rudland
Life is hard, and people face growing challenges in the region. But everywhere the children were smiling – expecially these guys with their homemade surf boards at Makira Island– R. Rudland
Barred Owlet-nightjar at Varirata National Park, Papua New Guinea – R. Rudland
Beach Thick-knee at Aravon Island, in the Solomons– R. Rudland
Unknown butterfly sp at Mt. Austen, Honiora (Guadalcanal), Solomon Islands – R. Rudland
Claret-breasted Fruit-dove at Tetepara, Solomons – R. Rudland
Dancers at Famla Village, Vanuatu – R. Rudland
Hawkbill Turtles, Arnavon Island, Solomons. – R. Rudland
Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda caulubrina), beautiful and deadly, as photographed by one of our divers.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater at Makira, Solomon Islands – R. Rudland
Unidentified skipper sp, Malaita Island, Solomon Islands– R. Rudland
Ornithologists have long known that Australasia is a world hotspot for bird species found nowhere else (endemic).
…as illustrated by the lovely Rufous Fantail, Queensland, Australia – R. Rudland
So how many bird species are there in Melanesia? The jury’s still out, but the easy answer is a lot
Here’s one: the endemic Makira Honeyeater, Makira, Solomon Islands– R. Rudland
Here’s another. The wonderfully-named Welcome Swallow, Makira, Solomon Islands– R. Rudland
Finally, a White-capped Monarch, Tetepare, Solomons – R. Rudland
NICE place – R. Rudland
Rand Rudland – “Melanesian marvels”
by Andrew Bryant, 21 April 2016.
Rand Rudland, MD, is just one of those people who’s hard to pin down. Physician to high arctic communities, whitewater rafting guide, globetrotting birder, Antarctic explorer, and Director of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society, Rand visited Powell River to speak about his recent travels in Melanesia.
As Ship’s Physician aboard the Spirit of Enderby, he was able to visit some of the most remote places in the southwest Pacific – islands with exotic names like Nissan, Mussau, Vanikoro, Duff, Bipi, and Espiritu Santo – together with places that might resonate for some – like Guadalcanal, the Coral Sea, and Rabaul.
Did I mention that Rand is also a very talented photographer?
Although he mostly focused on birds – and the incredible level of endemisn to be found there – he also regaled us with images of seldom-seen tribal “sing-sings”, artifacts from the second world war, scary spiders, even scarier snakes, gorgeous butterflies, orchids, flying fish, and some of the happiest children in the world!
It’s not every day that you have a guest speaker casually say “oh and that’s a Superb Pitta…I think that’s only about the 4th or 5th time this species has ever been photographed…sorry for the poor quality, but the jungle was a bit dark, and it was about 42° C in the shade…”
A talk not to be missed. A more detailed description of his adventures was published in his own club’s wonderful Marsh Wrenderings, which I’ve made available here.