News and reports from the Tristan da Cunha Government's Conservation Department.

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Yacht SV Urchin Calls at Tristan on the Way to Gough Island

Report compiled from social media. Photos from Fiona Kilpatrick and Sally Wonner

SV Urchin Calls at Tristan

In the early morning of Friday 19th March 2021, the SV Urchin (Urchin Sailing Expeditions) arrived off at Tristan da Cunha, having left Cape Town on 8 March 2021. The yacht stopped to pick up the Tristan islanders who will be working with the Gough Island Restoration Programme, and arrived at Gough on Sunday 21st March.

SV Urchin with the settlement in the background

SV Urchin anchored off the Edinburgh of the Seven Seas

The crew came ashore for some sightseeing - the Patches, the settlement and the gift shop - before enjoying a wonderful lunch at the Residency with the co-Admins, Fiona Kilpatrick and Steve Townsend. After a visit to the volcanic peak left from the 1961 eruption, they were taken back down to the harbour. Fiona said, "It was great to see them all, and then send them on their way to Gough. Tristan is proud to be part of this incredible partnership."

The crew from the SV Urchin being brought into Calshot Harbour in the Conservation RIB

The crew from the Urchin being brought into Calshot Harbour in the Conservation RIB

SV Urchin's crew at the Residency with their banner, the Administrator and Tristan Conservation team

The Urchin's crew at the Residency with their banner, the Administrator and Tristan team members

Chief Islander, James Glass, Simon Glass and Matthew Green boarded the Urchin with all of their expedition equipment and gear. This will see them through the next three months on Gough, where they will observe the intricate processes that the Gough Island Restoration Team will go through. This incredibly well organised effort to eradicate the mice from the island is for the benefit of the pelagic bird colonies that nest and breed there.

Tristan conservation team and their gear loaded into the RIB to join SV Urchin on their way to Gough

Tristan conservation team and their gear loaded into the RIB to join Urchin on their way to Gough

Tristan conservation team depart the harbour in perfect conditions.

Tristan conservation team depart the harbour in perfect conditions.

The Urchin's voyage is the third to deliver members of the Restoration Team to Gough. Tristan da Cunha is the custodian of Gough Island, on whose behalf the RSPB is leading the implementation of the mouse eradication. The RSPB are delighted to welcome two Tristanians to the project delivery team, and the Chief Islander, James Glass, in his capacity as Environmental Observer.

Second Restoration Team Sails to Gough Island

Report and photos from RSPB, with additional photos from Chris Jones and Kim Stevens

In a repeat of its February voyage, the yacht Pelagic Australis sailed from Cape Town with the second Gough Restoration Programme team, following the successful navigation of quarantine. She departed Cape Town on the 2nd March 2021 and arrived at Gough on the 11th March after a mighty nine days at sea. It is safe to say that they were all relieved to set foot on land again!

Second Gough team displaying their banner in Cape Town harbour

The second Gough Restoration team unfurls its banner in Cape Town harbour

Pelagic Australis leaving Cape Town harbour Arriving at Gough Island
Pelagic Australis leaving Cape Town Approaching Gough Island

Aerial view of the Pelagic Australis off Gough Island

Pelagic Australis at anchor off Gough Island

Landing at Gough Island Landing at Gough Island
Landing on Gough

This is another major milestone in the 2021 operation which was postponed from last year. In addition to the arrival of the first team on the Pelagic Australis in February, the SV Urchin is scheduled to bring team members from Tristan da Cunha in late March.

After a lovely spell of good weather, Gough is back to its normal stormy-rainy self. The arrival of more hands will ensure the teams can make the most of every window of opportunity and be ready to start when the remaining team members arrive. Onwards and upwards!

Gough Restoration Programme 2021 Start

Report and photos from the RSPB

Following the announcement last November that the postponed Gough Restoration Programme was to go ahead this year, we are pleased to report that work has commenced, despite all the difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The first Gough-bound team members of the 2021 Restoration Project set sail from Cape Town on the yacht Pelagic Australis on the 1st February 2021, with everyone wishing them fair winds and following seas. The yacht is familiar to Tristan da Cunha as it has been a regular visitor during the past fifteen years.

Yacht Pelagic Australis about to leave Cape Town harbour. Yacht Pelagic Australis leaving Cape Town harbour.
The RSPB team aboard the yacht Pelagic Australis in Cape Town (left), and the yacht leaving the harbour (right).

After nine days of sailing half-way across the South Atlantic, the team landed at Seal Beach, Gough Island on 10th February. The team are all very excited, as this bodes well for navigating all the Covid restrictions and hurdles that running the operation this year will bring!

RSPB team preparing to launch the yacht's dinghy to go ashore. Landing at Seal Beach.
The crew and RSPB team preparing to launch the yacht's dinghy (left), and landing at Seal Beach (right).

Having been greeted by the G66 'overwinterers', the restoration team will be getting straight on with the job of preparing everything needed before the operation can begin. First up, creating temporary additional sleeping quarters ready for the arrival of the remaining team members!

Returning RSPB Field Biologist Alexis Osborne is greeted by Vonica Perold.

Returning RSPB Field Biologist Alexis Osborne is greeted by Vonica Perold. Pelagic Australis in the background.

Last year about 60% of the temporary infrastructure was installed before the 'build team' were taken off Gough. Our overwintering team have been maintaining the temporary infrastructure and will join the prep teams in getting everything ready before the operation can begin.

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