We made it to Wellington just about on time this morning. Steve O'Shea greeted us at the airport, somewhat stunned over the amount of luggage! The GREAT NEWS that Steve had to relay as soon as we greeted came on top of that which he had phoned through to me late Saturdy night (Sunday NZ time). He had gotten a call from a fishery company manager that one of their trawlers had returned after a month fishing off the East Coast, South Island in the region of Kaikoura. The catch included a giant squid of about 2 m in mantle length and 220 kilograms!!! This was the second giant squid caught in less than a month by the same vessel....the first was not saved because the skipper thought it was "too small" at something around 3 meters total length and 60 kg!
We drove straight to NIWA and saw the refrigerated truck pulling away, so we knew the squid was in the freezer. Steve and I couldn't wait to have a peek, so we slit open the heavy woven plastic shroud and had a look....what a hunk of calamari!! Couldn't tell much in its frozen state, but it looked to be in very good condition. Thawing and preservation will come in the next week or so. Now, how's that for a kick-off to the Expedition! Two Architeuthis caught in the region of our investigation, at the time of year and depths (ca 550 meters), just as we predicted!!!
After many long days of work on the endless details for this expedition, we decided to make Sunday a down day and explore a rainforest on the outskirts of Wellington. It was a hot late summer day and the cool shade of the rainforest promised to be refreshing. We entered the moss-covered fern forest from a swinging footbridge spanning a deep canyon cut by the creek we were about to follow. The cheery, babbling brook and the sound of the distant waterfall eventually led us to our goal, a beautiful reservoir built a century ago by early settlers as a water source. The cool, clear water was inviting to us weary hikers, and before long we dove in, much to the consternation of the resident family of ducks.