Two weeks ago I was on Mana Island (a special Island sanctuary for rare NZ creatures) on a wildlife photo shoot for New Zealand Geographic Magazine (here’s a small sneak preview) for their 100th issue (congratulations to James and the team!) and while out filming past midnight I spotted a very unusual weta species.
I got some good photos, realised it was different and contacted the weta experts. No one has seen anything like this. There’s a chance it’s a juvenile Cook Strait Giant Weta with odd markings, but then there’s also a chance it’s a whole new species. Very exciting…colouration and some body features are very different.
So today I’m heading back to Mana Island for the night with 4 weta experts. We want to see if we can catch the insect again so they can determine how significant the find is! Back Monday evening.
Update 26 Oct 2009: Well, we found the spot I originally spotted the unknown weta (shown above), but strong winds conspired to make the search tough. We’ve marked and will be monitoring it for future developments.
We did have a top night though, finding a couple of Gold-striped Geckos (Hoplodactylus chrysosireticus) and a beautiful pair of Cook Strait Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa), some of the heaviest insects in the world – real whoppers! I’ll post a few photos of these shortly. Also, we saw the first nests of the very endangered New Zealand Shore Plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) on the beach.
In fact, this morning I was enjoying a cup of tea sitting in the sunshine on the beach and a pair of rare plover came over and bedded down not far from my feet – how lucky is that! So, not successful this trip in finding the unknown weta, but great to see all these rare creatures.
Update 29 Oct 2009: I’ve just added a video of the Giant Cook Strait Wetas as they make great video actors! Check this out: