Brendan Moyle

Massey University senior lecturer, Dr Brendan Moyle, has been passionate about wildlife his entire life, which motivated him to gain qualifications in zoology and economics. The economics comes from a simple realisation. Most causes of wildlife loss are ultimately economic in nature. Threats like habitat loss and poaching are fundamentally economic in nature. Of late he's been focused more on issues of wildlife poaching. When he started out as a zoologist, Brendan had a fascination with some of our smallest arachnids- the falsescorpions. Since then he's moved on to various crocodilians, and more recently, tigers. This takes him to smuggling ‘hotspots’, where avoiding getting eaten by large carnivores, bitten by small venomous reptiles, shot at by smugglers seem to be important skills. Like many other conservationists, I’ve also developed a keen interest in wildlife photography.

Does Vegetarianism cause a mutation that leads to cancer? - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 01, 2016

The short answer. No. Longer answer: Newspapers are fond of stories that breathlessly announce discoveries as revolutionary.  Fossils never add anything to our knowledge incrementally.  They will always rewrite the theory of evolution.  Cancer is another popular target for revolutionary new treatments or causes.  So it was with some skepticism I read that, quote, “Scientists have found vegetarianism can cause a genetic mutation that can lead to cancer”.  This appeared in the NZ Herald yesterday, and was originally from the Daily Telegraph. I found the original scientific paper without much difficulty from the journal’s website.  It mentions cancer a grand total of three times in the paper, and does not demonstrate any link to the mutation they studied.  The paper was not in fact, attempting to demonstrate any empirical link to cancer.  It was not a paper on cancer or heart disease. Read More

Sunday Seascape 27 March - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Mar 28, 2016

It’s a long weekend, so I can appreciate things get a bit quiet.  The shot below is of the Waitemata Harbour and the Auckland skyline.  I guess it should probably be counted as a cityscape more than a seascape. Anyway, this was the lost shot of an evening spent on North Head.  I’d already packed up my gear and was heading back to the car (I had a child that needed picking up from an event he was at).  I saw this view, then quickly setup for one last shot.  What made it trickier is I couldn’t see the stopwatch on my watch anymore, and had to guess the exposure.  I thought it’d need around 60 seconds to capture.  I guessed when it had enough, and checked time later.  62 seconds.  That was an oddly well timed fluke, or I’ve … Read More

Into the Waitakeres- Nihotupu Falls - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Mar 23, 2016

I didn’t realise we had so many waterfalls around the Auckland area until I started exploring.  Some waterfalls I had been aware of, just because they’re relatively well-known.  The Fairy Falls in the Waitakeres is one.  Many others are not so well known.  One of these falls I recently found was Nihotupu. This weekend a few things came together to allow a return to these falls.  Light winds, overcast conditions, and I had the time spare.  It was a fortunate convergence of factors.  It’s also not a difficult hike to the waterfall.  About 30 minutes even with a bit of gear. The heaviest bit of gear is perversely, the carbon-fibre tripod.  Mostly because I’ve fitted a very solid, Manfrotto geared-head to it.  I like this tripod-head for two reasons.  First, it gives very precise framing of shots across three axes. Read More

Sunday Seascape March 20 - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Mar 20, 2016

This shot was taken at Waiake, one of the most picturesque small bays on the Hauraki Gulf.  The Tor is fully exposed at low tide.  I stopped by on a commute to work and took a few shots with the Sony a7R.  It helps that I keep a tripod almost permanently in the boot of the car.  I am finding the a7R to be a much easier camera to carry and use, than the a900. I opted to convert the picture also into a duotone format (like the previous Sunday Seascape).  This seems to emphasise the contrasts and shapes in the scene a little better. Click for original image The original colour image is below … Read More

Get fit, lose weight, with just two wheels - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Mar 18, 2016

Once our species used to move.  We crossed oceans, rivers and mountains that were an obstacle to many of species.  We spread into Asia, Europe and the Americas.  In the Pacific Polynesians explored and settled islands as disparate as Hawaii, Easter Island and Aotearoa. We ran. We are such adept runners we can (potentially) run 42 km without stopping, just for fun. Now many of us rarely go outside. And it makes a difference. Researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine have recently published a study on the health effects of different commuting options.  If you cycle to work (in the UK), you’ll have lower body fat percentage and weight in mid-life compared to those who use the car.  It works out at approximately 5kg lower body-weight. In some ways, this isn’t surprising.  More exercise, on a … Read More

Sunday Seascape: 6 March - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Mar 07, 2016

The weekend hike was a bit further north.  I went up to Okura, and hiked to Dacre Cottage.  I did it the slightly harder way, with camera gear and a tripod.  And yes, there were times I envied the lighter equipped walkers over the hilly bits. There were two sites of interest.  One was the Okura Estuary.  The seascape shot is of the estuary, looking towards Long Bay Regional park.  I’m at the south end of Karepiro Bay.  The Okura was flowing slowly into sea, while the tide came in.  The nice part of this shot was the fish that were leaping out of the water just a few metres away.   Not that I photographed them.  But it added to the mood. In this case, I decided to convert the photo to a duotone look. The lighting seemed to suit … Read More

Sunday Seascape: 28 February - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Mar 01, 2016

Technically I did take this shot on Sunday, even if it has taken a few days to post. As everyone knows, the weather in Auckland on the weekend got very wet.  I braved a trip down to Long Bay anyway.  Partly just to get outside.  In between showers, I got this shot of waves hitting the rocks at Granny’s Bay.  Rangitoto Island is on the horizon. Click for original image A second later I had wet feet.  But the camera stayed in position on the tripod.  One of those reasons why having a good tripod and head is valuable. Photo taken with Sony a7R, Minolta 17-35mm f3.5 G and a Lee ND6 Grad. Read More

Adventures on two wheels - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Feb 26, 2016

We’re in the last week of the Auckland Bike Challenge. In the end, I was the only participant in my department. The most common reason given for not participating, is that it was too dangerous.  Even the people who didn’t know I’d had an accident with a car, thought it was too dangerous. Oddly, this is the last thing that discourages me from cycling. My list for around here would include: The Hills. You need a good level of fitness to tackle the hill-climbs I have to take on my route. About 25% of my time is spent on the first km.  Which is pretty much a steady and steep rise up the ridge to East Coast Road.  Cycling on flat ground or low inclines, is relatively easy.  It’s going to be hard getting started into cycling if you don’t … Read More

Singing cicadas - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Feb 25, 2016

One thing this summer has been notable for, is cicadas. Lots of them have been singing noisily for weeks.  Fortunately it’s not at the ear-bleeding crescendo you sometimes get in S E Asia.  It made them an easy target for some macro-photos also. I acquired a Sony a7R at the beginning of the year.  The main reason was the desire for something lighter than the a900. So it would be useful for travel photography as well as landscapes.  I’ve been meaning to try it out for macro-photography. On the plus-side, the a7R has no AA-filter.  That makes the images a little sharper (and more detailed).  It is also a 36MP camera.  Which gives it scope for cropping images of creepy-crawlies and still having a usable print. On the minus, well, it isn’t stabilised.  And I wasn’t sure if the … Read More