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Introduction

All the albatross chicks at Taiaroa Head have hatched without problems - the first time the Royal Albatross Colony has achieved a 100 percent success rate in 16 years.

Date:  01 February 2010

All the albatross chicks at Taiaroa Head have hatched without problems - the first time the Royal Albatross Colony has achieved a 100 percent success rate in 16 years.

But the difficult time is not over for the 17 chicks as they cope with heat, humidity and the risk of fly strike and predators over the next month, Department of Conservation (DOC) Taiaroa Head ranger Lyndon Perriman said.

The colony has two unusual pairings this season – a female-female pair have incubated an egg which has now hatched, and a pair where one parent is from the Taiaroa colony and the other is from the Chatham Islands colony. The latter pairing is especially important for the Taiaroa colony as it provides an opportunity to widen its genetic pool.

Over the past two weeks, the toroa/northern royal albatross chicks on the nature reserve at Taiaroa head/Pukekura (Otago Harbour) have been going through the three to six-day process of hatching out of their shells. The albatross parents will take turns guarding and feeding the chicks for the next six weeks. The growing chicks will then be left unattended while both parents forage at sea for food to feed them.

DOC rangers have worked long hours over the past two weeks checking the chicks several times a day to ensure they avoid fly strike and are adequately fed during the critical first 48 hours after cracking the shell.

“We’ve built up our experience of helping chicks hatch and have tweaked our management techniques over the years. Cooler weather at the start of hatching also helped,” Lyndon said.

Contact

Royal albatross/toroa

Further information:

Robin Thomas +64 3 474 6930 or 0274 320 776
or David Agnew + 64 3 474 6958 or 0274 851 693

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