Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for August 2015
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for August 2015.
Again, another quiet month for Albatross Tours with 10 tours operating this month. Species of interest this month included black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross, fairy prions, Antarctic fulmar, black-billed gulls, blue penguin and fluttering shearwater. To see what was sighted this month go to sightings page.
As we farewell winter, numbers of black-browed and Buller’s albatross are declining, while numbers of Salvin’s and white-capped albatross are on the rise. It’s great to see such a diversity of lesser albatross. Great albatross species remain with wandering albatross being observed on every trip this month with the occasional visits from southern and northern royal albatross.
Although not seen on our albatross tours, there are reports that the Hutton’s shearwaters have returned early this year. We thought that they were early last year turning up in mid-September, but this really does appear to be too early to see large rafts on the water. I’m sure the change in temperature will be a bit of a shock for the birds, particularly with snow still around their breeding grounds high up in the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains, with the forecast for more snow on its way.
A new report just released has revealed some shocking data regarding the ingestion of plastic by seabirds. It’s estimated that concentrations of plastic have reached a staggering 580,000 pieces per km² and that 90% of seabirds have accidently consumed plastic. This number is expected to increase to 99% by 2050. This is a huge concern for seabirds and a timely reminder for people to think about items such as plastic bags...do you really need another bag for your shopping, or how about purchasing a reusable bag, which are becoming more and more popular. Also, for those who live or visit the coast, next time you see a piece of plastic, pick it up and play your part in minimizing the amount of plastic entering the ocean. We have witnessed albatross picking up pieces of rubbish floating on the ocean, most notably a white-capped albatross attempting to pick up a crushed coca cola can that was promptly scooped up by Encounter II crew, so you can imagine how smaller pieces of plastic can easily be mistaken by seabirds.
This month we’ve seen a black-browed albatross with a broken beak, although having no idea what caused this injury, but most likely from a hook on a longline. It’s hoped that this albatross is still able to eat and survive another day.
Again, banded bird Orange 512 made an appearance on one occasion, however our other “regular” banded bird Red 73E hasn’t been seen since the end of April. We’re hoping that he’s alive and well and has probably visited Kaikoura more recently, but perhaps on a day when the tours haven’t been operating.
Finally Gary and Lynette have just returned from the British Bird Fair, which once again was a huge success. It was great to see familiar faces and meet new people planning or preparing or trip to New Zealand in the near future.
So, that’s all our news for now. Till next time.
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