‘Heavyweight champion’ albatross chick looking for a name
IntroductionBig changes have been made to DOC’s annual Name the Chick competition for this year’s big Royal Cam star, with those submitting a name asked to take action to protect albatross.
Date: 09 May 2023
Royal Cam is a 24-hour livestream at the Pukekura/Taiaroa Head colony of toroa/northern royal albatross. Each year, the livestream focuses on one chick as it is carefully raised from an egg until it fledges (leaves the nest) in September or October.
The annual Name the Chick competition asks fans to suggest potential names for the chick, which are then voted on by the public. This year, people submitting a name are asked to also take action to help albatross and seabirds by reducing plastic pollution.
DOC Coastal Otago Biodiversity Ranger Sharyn Broni says this could be as simple as picking up rubbish at a local beach, using a reusable cup when buying a coffee or tea, or taking reusable containers down to collect takeaways.
“Plastic pollution is a real threat to seabirds like albatross as they can confuse plastic for food, which can cause choking or be passed on to chicks. Laysan albatross, a species found in the northern Pacific, are known to have chicks starve to death because their stomachs get so full of plastic. Birds can also get tangled in larger plastic items and drown.”
“After seven years, we felt the time was right to change up the competition and by encouraging people to act to protect seabirds, we hope people will feel a greater connection to these amazing birds.”
The winning name will be announced on World Albatross Day, 19 June. This year’s World Albatross Day theme is ‘Plastic Pollution’.
Everyone who enters also goes in the draw to win prizes. The main winning prize and two spot prizes value over $500 NZD. Each have been selected to help you on your sustainability journey.
Sharyn Broni says it’s been another successful year at the colony so far with 33 chicks currently.
“This year’s royal cam chick is now the undisputed heavyweight champion of the colony after weighing in at 10 kg last Monday. He was 101 days old and weighed nearly 2 kg more than an average male of that age!”
People can enter the Name the Chick competition by submitting their suggested name and a photo showing their plastic reduction.
The competition is open to people anywhere in the world. Submissions close Friday, 26 May 2023 at 5 pm New Zealand Standard Time (NZST).
We will then work with Te Poāri a Pukeura (the trust which manages Pukekura/Taiaroa Head) to produce a list of top 10 names. These go out to a public vote to determine the eventual name for the chick.
Previous winning names have included Tiaki, Atawhai, Karere, Amīria and, most recently, Lillibet (in honour of Queen Elizabeth II).
Toroa/northern royal albatross are one of the largest seabirds in the world, with wingspans up to 3 m. They are a vulnerable species that has been affected by changes to habitat and climate and by some fishing practices.
They also reproduce slowly, with breeding pairs typically raising a chick once every two years.
The Royal Cam livestream is run in partnership with Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology in New York, helping the lives of these albatross reach an international audience. Each year it receives millions of views from people all around the globe.
This season’s chick hatched on January 20 from an egg laid on November 4. He’s being raised by parents L (female) and GLY (male) who are being featured on Royal Cam for the first time this season.
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