The beginning of this year's breeding season at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura has been a hard one. For those of you following Royal Cam, you know all too well the sad story of this year's northern royal albatross chick.
As hard of a year it has been to watch Royal Cam, it has also been a difficult year for the rest of the albatross at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura who are not in the spotlight. The hottest January on record combined with calm winds around the colony created difficult conditions for brooding parents and unhatched albatross chicks, many of whom did not get the chance to escape their egg. We are now left with 14 active nests with healthy chicks.
Those unsuccessful parent albatross, Royal Cam's KGY and YWK included, are now back out to sea – the true home of the royals. They are birds of the open ocean, and while Royal Cam connects us briefly with their lives, they spend more than 85% of it gliding over and bobbing on the ocean's surface. With any luck, they will return next season or the season after to attempt to breed again.
Sure, Royal Cam links us with the northern royal albatross, but what connects us to these regal seabirds even more is our big blue backyard. With our thoughts on KGY and YWK and the other would-be parents that have returned to sea, it's a good opportunity to think about how we can all help to keep their home safe, tidy, and healthy.
This week is Seaweek in New Zealand and the theme is 'Toiora te Moana, Toiora te Tangata – Healthy Seas, Healthy People'. It's a time for all of us to get to know our ocean, and all the creatures that call it home. When was the last time you renewed your connections with the sea? The beaches, estuaries, coves, inlets, tide pools, and sandflats from Port Pegasus to Cape Reinga are waiting.
You could join a local beach clean-up, take part in some coastal citizen science, or take time to seek out and observe some of New Zealand's unique marine life. Use Seaweek to be like the albatross and once more turn your attention toward the oceans!
New Zealand Seaweek began on Saturday 3 March and continues through Sunday 11 March. There are plenty of ways for you to get involved throughout the country. Find an event near you.