It was a proposition in October 2007 by Malcolm Francis – a veteran of four earlier visits to the islands over 20 years – that initiated this marine biodiversity survey of the Kermadec Islands. From modest plans with a self-funded team of divers, we explored the opportunity of increasing the scale, scope and duration of the voyage. The obstacles were many: the search for a suitable vessel once the proposed vessel went out of service, aggregating the finances for the largest-ever coastal marine survey of the islands, and assembling an experienced team of scientists. It was over three years before all of these factors were aligned to launch the successful Kermadec Biodiscovery Expedition 2011.
The RV Braveheart was the perfect platform for the expedition. Our thanks to Nigel Jolly of Stoney Creek Shipping Company for maintaining the Braveheart in his fleet, meeting all of our logistical and support needs, and trusting that we were good for the money. Ultimately we achieved our goals due to the experience, desire for adventure, the outstanding food, and the good will of the crew: skipper Matt Jolly and his jolly band of seamen Broughton Lattey, Ashley Mangnall, Gary Melville and Karl Rogers. The collective camaraderie and mutual respect of all on board is a rare combination on any long research cruise and ultimately made the expedition a great success.
All of the research participants worked long hours to squeeze the maximum out of the time we had available at the Kermadec Islands. Being forced into close quarters for three weeks can test the most tolerant of relationships but, without fail, all of the participants committed fully to the goals of the expedition – before, during and after the voyage. The support of their institutions and their families was appreciated.
An expedition of this scale required significant financial support and each portion of funding, regardless of size, was required to enable the expedition to proceed. Our sincere thanks to the C & L Gregory Trust, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the bequest of Patricia M. Porritt which is administered by the Australian Museum Foundation, the Department of Conservation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and their Global Ocean Legacy campaign for the Kermadec Islands, New Zealand Geographic magazine, Radio New Zealand, and to Gull New Zealand for the subsidised fuel.
For all of us on board, this was a voyage of biological discovery. Keen landlubbers from around the world could join in our discoveries through the Kermadec Biodiscovery blog, designed by Dave Williams of Zest Media. Twice daily contributions were written on board by Alison Ballance, even during nausea-inducing sea conditions, and supported on land at the Auckland Museum by Melanie Cooper and Kulvinder Singh. Technical support was provided by Stephen Lane at the Auckland Museum and Mike Finnegan of Navtec. Eight subsequent Radio New Zealand stories were broadcast on Our Changing World.
The Kermadec Islands are a Nature Reserve and proposed World Heritage Site, and the territorial waters (to 12 nautical miles) around each of the islands are a designated no-take marine reserve. Permits to collect were provided under the authority of the Department of Conservation: on land, Department of Conservation staff were authorised to collect flora and fauna; in the water, Coastal Permit number AM/PAS 02-03-01 dated 29 April 2011, and Authorisation by Director-General to Undertake Specified Scientific Study in a Marine Reserve dated 4 May 2011. Animal welfare was consistent with the conditions of the Australian Museum Animal Care and Ethics Approval number 08-02 issued to Mark McGrouther. Diving operations were undertaken under procedures in the Standard Operating Procedure: Scientific Diving at Auckland Museum version 2 dated 29 April 2011.
We thank the numerous reviewers for their suggestions to improve the manuscripts: Wilma Blom, Dale Calder, Ewen Cameron, Walter Cernohorsky, Kate Charlton-Robb, Simon Childerhouse, Charles Fransen, Chrissen Gemmill, George Gibbs, Brian Gill, Ian Gleadall, Dennis Gordon, Geoff Irwin, Gintaras Kantvilas, Allison Knight, Tomoyuki Komai, Ian Loch, Bill Malcolm, Mark McGrouther, Alan Millar, Helen Ramsay, Peter Schuchert, Hamish Spencer, Andrew Stewart, Jan Strugnell, Peter Sheppard, Jean Vacelet, Rob van Soest, Carol West and Mike Wilcox.
Design, layout and print coordination of this large, complex bulletin was provided by Hamish Macdonald.