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Honouring a Promise 18 Years On

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

In Nov 2005 we lost a friend and colleague, and the Sub Antarctic Islands lost a passionate researcher and advocate when Dr David Given died after losing a brave battle with cancer.

I got to know David when I invited him to be a lecturer and guide on our expeditions to Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic on board The Spirit of Enderby when I owned Heritage Expeditions.

Many of you receiving this newsletter might remember David perhaps for his humour but more likely, I think, for his passion and total commitment to the Southern Ocean and especially its flora.

Before he died he handed me an unfinished manuscript on the flora of the Sub Antarctic Islands. He had been working on it for a number of years. His last words to me was that it needed more field work on the Auckland Islands before it could be published. I promised him I would do my best to complete the field work and get it published. It has taken 18 years, three of those years have been taken up negotiating with the Dept. of Conservation for the necessary permits and permissions to visit the Auckland Islands to complete the field work. To this day I do not understand why the Dept. had to make the process so difficult, so demanding so frustrating and so restrictive. I would have thought that they would have welcomed the opportunity to have such a manuscript researched and published. Sadly, that has not been our experience, we battled mindless bureaucracy and patch protectionism all the way.

As I write this we are at the Auckland Islands. We have a team of 6 botanists and 1 mycologist led by Alex Fergus who are volunteering their time and expertise to complete the field work that David’s unfinished manuscript required. I am providing MV Strannik free of charge and we have a volunteer crew on board. David would be proud of the team, their results more than justify the expedition and will add tremendous value to the manuscript. The botanists have recorded numerous new records for the island and possibly an entirely new species to science. The mycologist is writing a whole new chapter in the flora of the Auckland Islands. It is exciting times. It will obviously take time to analyse the results of this expedition. Once that is done we will move into finishing the manuscript and making it available for all sub Antarctic Island and plant enthusiasts around the world.

Thank you David for your inspiration and dedication.


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