Will Captain Panic Pants Gareth Hughes apologise for all the scaremongering?


When the Rena grounded, the Green Taliban would have you believe it was a disaster that would echo through our country’s psyche for generations to come.  Not only would the Bay be devoid of life, it would mean that coastal shipping around New Zealand would have to be seriously curtailed.

“What if the Rena contained nuclear material?”  Gareth posited.

And all that doesn’t even address the obscene loss of wildlife.  The fish, the birds, and the eventual knock-on effects to those higher up in the food chain.

Of course, none of this actually happened

The Rena disaster posed a grave question for ecologists racing to save the Bay of Plenty’s precious population of endangered New Zealand dotterels.

Should they rescue all of them, risking their deaths from stress in captivity, or leave them in the path of the oil?

They made a grim gamble – taking half the birds as potential insurance to later re-establish the population.

That was some clever and practical thinking.  But it turns out, none of it was actually needed.

Six birds out of 60 died of a stress-associated condition at the Oiled Wildlife Facility – a reasonably successful result given the delicate nature of the tiny, vulnerable species.

Four of the birds required a full wash, which Dr Dowding said would have been “45 minutes of hell”.

6 died.  4 needed a wash.  Out of 60.

45 minutes of hell.


Hardly a crisis.

So they let them go again.

Since the release the birds had fared well, and most of the survivors were paired and breeding at hotspots such as Matakana Island and Maketu. Once dotterels began breeding, they typically remained at the same site for many years.

“One year on, numbers at most of the important sites are similar to those before the grounding,” he said.

Good to see them spreading the risk, in case, but it turns out everything is now back to normal.

Panic Pants Hughes is still looking for the nuclear waste mind you.


Source:  NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.