White Island dino survives

BY WILL HARVIE
Last updated 08:45 04/08/2009

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The White Island dinosaur continues to stand tall more than five years after it was placed in the viewing range of a web camera on the volcanic island in the Bay of Plenty.

When first placed in May 2004, the pink plastic dino was expected by some to wilt in the toxic environment of the smouldering volcanic crater. But other than losing colour, the toy is in good nick, says Craig Miller, the GeoNet Volcano Network Co-ordinator.

"The environment at White Island over the last few years has been relatively benign," he says. "There is even vegetation regrowing since the last eruptions ended in 2000."

GeoNet/GNS staff recently moved the solar-powered volcano cam to a more robust housing - and also repositioned Dino, which is a mascot for volcanologists.

Who placed Dino is unclear.

"He kind of appeared one day," says Miller. He suspects the dinosaur was carried to the island on one of many tourist boats that visit the island every year. The toy was cemented into place at night.

When he first appeared, Dino was an internet sensation. His cheeky photo appealed to journalists at CNN and other international news organisations. The huge upsurge in traffic to GeoNet's website was a "good test of our systems", says Miller.

The White Island crater cam, like all eight volcano cams in New Zealand, has a serious purpose. Instruments such as seismographs monitor activity 24 hours a day. If something happens, it's useful for volcanologists to see what happening.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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