And the last one: PJDA!

My last field session is over. I, once again, had a blast: interesting work, and as always, good company (Nath, the guy who is studying the population dynamics of feral cats on Kerguelen, known as Popchat, who needed help in the field; Yoanna, the girl working on an ethology programme, JC, the heating engineer, and Laurent, the artist!). For all of us it has been a chance to discover a new emblematic site of Kerguelen: Port-Jeanne-d-Arc. The goal of the field session was to help Nath set up cages to catch feral cats (put the bait in, camouflage them and place them in different places) and check them regularly. For bait, Nath hunted rabbits, cut them in half and put them in the cages.Usually, the Popchat also has to make a minimum of 30 observations in one session, along a transect (we call it the line) and record as much information as possible on the individuals observed. His programme aims at understanding, among others, the population dynamics of this species introduced by humans on the island. When we arrived, Nath had already made enough observations so we didn't get to help him with that. When the cats were caught in the cages, camouflaged next to the transect, we got them out and brought them down to the cabin in transport boxes. Nath, after anaesthetizing them, made measurements and took samples. If the cat was known (had an electronic chip), we had to check its identity. If not, it was tagged with a chip introduced underneath its skin and named. Nath then put a coloured collar on them with a number to identify it from a distance with binoculars. After a few hours so the cat could wake up after the anaesthesia, it was released where it had been caught.

 Apart from that, we got lucky enough to go to the Dôme Rouge, from the top of which the view on the surrounding islets is absolutely breath-taking. On the way, we stopped to observe sooty albatrosses' chicks next to a beautiful waterfall before reaching a plateau with "swamps", going through screes and "climbing" to reach the summit of the Dome. We contemplated the view with a nice snack and went down to a nearby canyon. A solitary reindeer was waiting for us (at last, after 5 months in Kerguelen!! I'd been thinking reindeers were a myth!). Thanks so much, Nath, for scheduling this encounter! I have to admit it blew my mind to see the animal at the exact same time and place the Popchat had told us it would be there... Nice work!! We also had the time to explore the ruins of the old whaling station built in 1908 and abandonned in 1926. I've found them spectacular. There are still hundreds of rusty barrels next to tanks, pieces of railway, boarding and a few buildings have been renovated to keep the souvenir of this terrible activity alive. I can barely imagine the extent of the exploitation and the ecological disaster that happened here even after reading so much about it and living there for a few days. The cabin is really big compared to others where I'd been. There is a small museum in it. At last, I'll just mention the memorable games we played and the laughing all night long! That was, for sure, a nice field session just like all others and I'll remember it for a while!! 


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Arrival in PJDA with the barge


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Yo and Nath setting up a cage


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Measurements on a cat caught in a cage


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Me holding Chat-Thon, the kitty


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On the way back from the Dôme Rouge

Kerguelen field Port-Jeanne-d'Arc popchat cats

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