Moana, the northern royal albatross and star of the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) royal cam, has left Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on a long sea voyage.
Today Moana fledged, which means she left her nest to fly towards South American waters and will spend 4-10 years at sea, after which she may eventually return to Taiaroa Head to breed and raise a chick.
Since she hatched in January this year, Moana has become an internet sensation as thousands of people throughout the world have watched her on a web cam. The royal cam webpage has received over 500,000 views.
DOC ranger Lyndon Perriman said the web cam would continue to be based at Taiaroa Head.
“While we won’t be able to film Moana, there will be other albatross at Taiaroa Head preparing their nests for the next season,” Lyndon said.
“Although Moana has left, we’re looking forward to seeing which birds breed next season and who will be our next albatross star.”
Manager of Operations Taiaroa Head for Otago Peninsula Trust, Hoani Langsbury, said “Moana has been the star attraction at the Royal Albatross Centre this year. We’re all sad to see her go as she has captured thousands of hearts around the world. We’ve had people from all over NZ come on our tours especially to see her. Our team, along with DOC, have responded to huge amounts of social media and email queries. She has been an incredible ambassador for royal albatross and we hope to see her back again in a few years.”
“In the meantime, the trust is committed to working with DOC to ensure we continue to share live webcams and increase interest and support for the incredible wildlife at Pukekura. Thanks to people’s donations and support, we plan to have at least two webcams going soon.”
Over 10 of Moana’s biggest fans from all over New Zealand and some from Australia will visit the Albatross Centre on 17 September for a fledging party, to mark Moana’s departure.
Northern royal albatross are a nationally vulnerable species and an icon of Dunedin. They are a taonga species for Ngāi Tahu.
With a wing span of over three metres, Northern royal albatrosses are among the largest seabirds in the world.
The Royal Albatross Colony is the only mainland place in the world to view Northern royal albatross in their natural habitat. There are more than 150,000 visitors a year to the site.
DOC manages the Northern royal 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 50 pairs in 2015. 10,000 seabirds are also thriving at Taiaroa Head, including nationally vulnerable and threatened species like red-billed gulls and Otago shags.