New albatross chick and mother
Image: | DOC

Introduction

A fluffy new Royal cam star hatched last night in the northern royal albatross breeding colony at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula.

Date:  23 January 2018

The chick was taken away initially for a health check, weighing and to protect it from forecasted extreme heat.

“Like many farmers in the south, we’re in the unusual position of hoping for a break in the very hot summer weather Dunedin is experiencing currently”, says DOC’s Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki.

“However, we’re pleased to report the chick is a healthy 290g and has had its important first feed from parent KGY.”

For the third year running DOC has set up a web cam beside an albatross nest in the colony near Dunedin – the only mainland albatross breeding colony in the Southern Hemisphere.

Royal cam has seen huge popularity over the last two years, totalling more than 2.3 million views on YouTube and almost 100,000 comments on chat forum Disqus.

"These chicks are brilliant ambassadors for albatross, for our oceans, for New Zealand’s amazing nature and for the special wildlife around Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. We could not have anticipated how much these chicks have captured people hearts. We really appreciate the amazing Royal cam fan community that has grown over the last two years,” says Ms Toki.

“As with previous years we are now waiting to see the story of this little albatross unfold as it faces the many challenges present in it’s first few months such as extremes in weather and life-threatening pests including flies and stoats.”

The egg was laid on 7 November 2017 and since then the parents (known as YWK and KGY) have been taking turns on the nest. They will now continue to take turns feeding the chick for the next five or six weeks. They then leave the chick unguarded, except for feeding visits, until it fledges in spring. The sex of the chick is unknown at this stage.

DOC’s team and the staff at the Royal Albatross Centre are hoping to repeat the success of previous webcam chicks Moana and Tūmanako, who both made it through the trials of early life to fledge the nest in September 2016 and 2017 respectively. This chick has the same parents as Moana.

“Fans have been avidly watching the Royal cam couple and waiting for the new chick to hatch. It closely followed the colony’s first chick for 2018 which hatched earlier the same day” says Hoani Langsbury, Manager of Operations, Taiaroa Head for Otago Peninsula Trust. “This is a fantastic time of year for us at the Royal Albatross Centre. With 32 nests, we can expect many more eggs to hatch in the next wee while,”

DOC Rangers are now incredibly busy putting in 12 hour days through the egg-hatching season to ensure these chicks have the best possible chances of survival.

You can watch the albatross chick on http://www.doc.govt.nz/royalcam.

Background information

  • Northern royal albatross/toroa are an icon of Dunedin with a conservation status of ‘at risk - naturally uncommon’. They are a taonga species for Ngāi Tahu.
  • With a wingspan of over three metres, northern royal albatrosses are among the largest seabirds in the world.
  • The Pukekura/Taiaroa Head albatross colony is the only mainland place in the world to view northern royal albatross in their natural habitat.
  • DOC manages the albatross colony with the support of the Otago Peninsula Trust, Te Poari a Pukekura (Pukekura Co-management Trust) and Dunedin City Council. It has grown from one breeding pair in 1937 to about 65 pairs in 2017.
  • 10,000 seabirds also thrive at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head, including nationally vulnerable and threatened species like red-billed gulls and Otago shags.

DOC worked with the Otago Peninsula Trust, Pukekura Co-management Trust, Wellington City Council and Dunedin City Council to install the web cam

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Lizzy Sutcliffe, DOC Communications Advisor
Mobile: +64 27 886 3507
Email: lsutcliffe@doc.govt.nz

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