I'm Abby McBride, a sketch biologist and Fulbright-National Geographic Fellow. I'm in New Zealand writing and illustrating Nat Geo stories about penguins, prions, shearwaters, shags, gulls, gannets, albatrosses, and all sorts of other birds that spend their lives on the ocean.
Seabird numbers are plummeting worldwide, and that's very worrisome indeed. Besides being beautiful and fascinating in their own right, these incredible birds connect marine and terrestrial ecosystems and act as canaries-in-a-coal-mine to warn us about problems in the environment.
Why New Zealand? It has the most diverse and endangered seabirds in the world and also happens to be a global leader in solving the plethora of problems afflicting seabirds, caused by humans past and present.
Take the tiny New Zealand Storm-Petrel, one victim of the rats that followed human colonists to New Zealand. So scarce it was thought extinct for the entire 20th century, this seabird recently showed up nesting on an island 50 miles from Auckland. It owes its second chance to New Zealanders, working hard to control predators throughout the country.
I aim to capture a sense of this seabird-saving grit and gumption and help pass it on. So I'm roaming the New Zealand coastline for nine months, with my tent and kayak in tow. I'm sketching seabirds and taking part in seabird conservation and telling stories about it all.
I'm collecting most of those stories right here. But to really stay in the loop...
- Check out my column on the National Geographic Blog
- Follow @sketchbiologist on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
- Sign up for email updates
Lastly: please support seabird conservation!