• iceberg
  • boy with flowers
  • checking water quality
  • planet eclipse
  • solarsystem model
  • rangitoto trees
  • kids with test tubes
  • kids with earth
  • snowy mountains
  • teens in physics class
  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Teacher Education in Science

Up close and personal with roaring sea lions

Science teacher BERNARD POTTER writes about his recent trip to the Southern Ocean, as the recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Trust Environmental Educators Award.

Bernard Potter (above, photo by Mark Orams) was the recipient of a Sir Peter Blake Trust Educators Award this year. This saw him travelling to the Southern Ocean and encountering all sorts of wild creatures, including roaring sea lions and Southern Royal albatross.

When he’s not setting off on intrepid expeditions, Bernard teaches general science and biology at Saint Kentigern College, Auckland. He’s now taking a one-term sabbatical to write some resource material about the Southern Ocean, New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands and environmental education.

My expedition to the Southern Ocean

Left:A roaring sea lion. Photo: Professor John Montgomery.

The excitement of being charged by New Zealand sea lions, getting up close and personal with Southern Royal albatross incubating their eggs, jumping off the flight deck of the HMNZS Wellington into the freezing Southern Ocean and getting a rare glimpse at the Aurora Australis are just a few of the amazing experiences I had on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure to one of Earth’s most unique and special places – New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands.

I teach general science and biology at Saint Kentigern College, and I was lucky enough to be the 2014 recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Trust Environmental Educators Award, which saw me take part in a Young Blake Expedition to the Auckland Islands in the Southern Ocean.

The two-week voyage was hosted by the Royal New Zealand Navy aboard the HMNZS Wellington and included representatives from the Sir Peter Blake Trust, the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, scientists from the university of Otago and NIWA, as well as 12 environmentally-focused high school students, from around the country, who had been selected for their leadership potential and commitment to driving environmental initiatives in their own schools and communities.

Right: A Southern Royal albatross. Photo: Bernard Potter.

During the expedition, I worked with the scientists, conservators, and students on the critical surveying and planning work required for a proposed climate research station, to be built on the Auckland Islands in 2015. This included sampling sediment fifty meters below the seawater surface to gain information about earth’s climate for up to 6000 years ago, installing a weather station and surveying the construction site for the new research base, to be named Blake Station in honour of Sir Peter Blake.

One of the aims of this voyage is to inspire New Zealanders to understand the global significance of the Southern Ocean & Sub-Antarctic Islands and the role they play in understanding and monitoring the effects of climate change. This year, I will work together with the Ministry of Education and the Sir Peter Blake Trust to help achieve this objective. I will also be presenting my work at this year’s National Science Teacher’s Conference (SciCon 14) and any resources I create will be accessible to teachers and students across New Zealand.


You can read about secondary student Mitchell Chandler’s experience on board this trip here on New Zealand Science Teacher.

Post your comment


  • Kia ora Ireen, thanks for your comment- yes aren't those photos incredible! Although I don't know if I could have gotten so close to a roaring sea lion myself.

    Posted by Melissa- NZST, 12/05/2014 12:04pm (5 years ago)

  • A fascinating article written by a talented writer and conservator. Congratulations on receiving the award. The photography is spot on too. I look forward to reading about your work at the National Science Teachers' Conference. I wish I could have been there as well!

    Posted by Ireen Potter, 09/05/2014 12:04pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments