The majestic Pencil Pine: pushed to the brink

On Jan 13th 2016, approximately 70 lightning strikes hit the west of Tasmania.

About 20 of those strikes started fires.

So many lightning strikes. There were more than usual. However, fire caused by dry lightning in this area is totally expected. What was not expected is the devastation that followed.

Pencil pine lake mckenzie_RobBlakers1

Pencil Pine at Lake McKenzie, post-fire, 2016. © Rob Blakers

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Ecology detectives: species on the move on Heard Island

It was the 25
th November 1853. Captain John Heard sighted land*. Heard’s wife, who was on board, called the land “a frigid looking place”.


How right she was, and so wrong too. 



Heard Island. The view from aboard the Southern Supporter. © Robb Clifton

Research involving historical data can turn up many a query and solve many a mystery. So can investing in scientific research and monitoring. The following scientific expedition involved much detective work including historical literature which informed monitoring and research.

Heard Island crew

Heard Island 2003-2004 expeditioners (source Australian Antarctic Magazine Issue 7 Spring 2004)

On Heard Island, one hundred and fifty years after it was first sighted, 28 scientists and support crew landed. I went ashore with 12 people to ‘Try Pot Beach’ otherwise known as ‘The Spit’, as part of the Terrestrial Ecologist crew. So started two and a half months on subantarctic Heard Island. Continue reading