Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for July 2014
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for July 2015.
Winter is typically a quieter season for Albatross Encounter, although we were slightly busier this month compared to June, operating 12 tours for the month. Species of birds observed continued to be diverse with species of interest including Antarctic fulmar, fluttering shearwater, fairy prion, black-billed gull, southern giant petrel, Caspian tern and common diving petrel. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
Albatross species this month continue to be diverse with regular sightings of both great and lesser albatrosses. Great albatross species observed include wandering albatross, northern royal and southern royal albatross. We continue to see a variety of lesser albatross species including both summer and winter species, although in the very near future, numbers of black-browed and Buller’s albatross will start to decline as they head south to begin the breeding season again.
Numbers of Salvin’s albatross (Thalassarche salvini), are on the increase this month, which seems a little earlier than usual. Endemic to New Zealand, 99% of the population breed on the isolated Sub-Antarctic Bounty Islands, with the remaining population breeding on The Snares. They are classified as “Nationally Critical” due to their restricted breeding area.
Salvin’s are one of the least studied albatross due to their isolated location and extreme difficulties in accessing the islands. Current concerns are focused around the high incidence of bycatch and the lack of information on the species. Salvin’s albatross are a common visitor to Kaikoura throughout the summer months and migrate to South America during the winter time. They can create a challenge for those unfamiliar with this species as there are similarities in appearance to the white-capped albatross, but they can be distinguished by a grey head and a black tip to the lower mandible.
Orange 512 made several appearances this month. She is now only one of two banded birds that are seen on a “regular” basis. We don’t know the fate of other banded birds that we sometime encountered, but Orange 512 had a lucky escape in 2010 when she was seen be a charter fishermen entangled in hundreds of metres of multi-stranded poly-nylon fishing line. Clearly in distress, she was brought ashore and together with Gary, they were able to disentangle her before taking her onto a Dolphin Encounter boat where she was successfully released back out to sea. So, as you can imagine she remains a special bird for all of us her. In recent years, her visits have been few and far between, causing concern amongst the Encounter Kaikoura crew, but she’s been seen three times this month and it’s great to see her and know that she’s still surviving. We hope to see her for many more years to come!!!
So, that’s all our news for now.
Till next time....
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