Ocean Wings News
Albatross Encounter Update for September 2015
Welcome to the Albatross Encounter update for September 2015.
Well September is the start of spring, but initially we didnt experience much spring weather, however things improved as the month went on. For this month we operated a total of 12 tours.
Species of interest this month has included black-browed albatross, Buller’s albatross, Antarctic fulmar, blue penguin, reef heron and white-chinned petrel. To see what was sighted this month go to our sightings page.
We’re still continuing to see the occasional winter species in the area and it’s a great time of year to witness the changing seasons as our regular winter species such as black-browed and Buller’s albatross depart, heading back to the breeding grounds while we welcome the return of our summer visitors returning from their annual winter migrations.
Sightings of Salvin’s albatross have been on the increase as they return from South America to commence their breeding season in the Sub-Antarctic Bounty Islands. Salvin’s tend to be quite a shy species around the chum bag, no doubt down to the level of aggressions shown by giant petrels and the dominant wandering albatross, but they tend to sit patiently on the periphery waiting to race in and seize some food should an opportunistic moment arise. They’re a beautiful bird, one that seems to appeal to photographers with their somewhat “angry appearance”.
Hutton’s shearwaters are amassing in force as Kaikoura is the only place in the world where they breed. They are an alpine breeding seabird that breed high up in the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range. Being a seabird however, they need to fly down to the ocean to feed, a journey that can take as little as 7 minutes. Large rafts of up to 3,000 individuals have been sighted. We‘ve also been working in conjunction with the Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust who have been busy visiting local schools and educating them on Kaikoura’s endemic bird. After receiving a talk and watching a documentary about the birds, we’ve been taking the children on the water to find the Hutton’s shearwater and to show them the predator proofed area that is hoping to become an established 3rd breeding colony in the future.
Sadly one of our skippers photographed a wandering albatross which appeared to have ingested a longline hook. With no way of reaching this bird to bring it ashore for some much needed veterinary help, Dennis raced out to buy the biggest net so that if we saw it again, we might just be able to get it onboard. Unfortunately we didn’t see this bird again, but we’re well prepared should it or another injured albatross turn up.
A new and innovative technique to minimize the bycatch of albatross is the Hookpod. It is designed to enclose the barb of the hook which sinks rapidly. It has a pressure-sensitive mechanism to open the pod at a predetermined depth therefore minimizing albatross and other birds becoming hooked. Had this technique been implemented on the vessel that this wanderer had been in contact with, it is likely that the outcome for this bird may be much more positive. For more information on this revolutionary technique, see their website: www.hookpod.com
So, that’s all our news for now.
Till next time.
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