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Introducing the new Royal cam albatross family

Introducing the new Royal cam albatross family

A new albatross family is centre stage on the Royal cam at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula.

The female albatross WO and male albatross GO have been together since 2015 and recently received a female foster chick, deserted as an egg and hatched on 22 January 2018. WO andGO laid their own egg on 5 November 2017, which died as an embryo.

DOC Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki says the early months of a new chick are extremely challenging, and this is especially the case after a tough, hot summer.

“Observing the life of our albatross’ close up is a privilege and really brings home the precariousness of life for this precious species.”

The previous Royal cam chick online following its hatch in January 2018 was killed by a parent bird in February. Aggression by adults and juveniles towards chicks has been seen previously, but this is unusual behaviour and DOC is uncertain why this attack occurred.

With increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change, the loss of an individual, for any reason, becomes even more critical for the population’s conservation.

Weather conditions resulted in a high incidence of embryo death inside the egg and the albatross colony currently has only 14 chicks compared with 26 and 23 at the same time over the last two years respectively.

Nicola Toki says the impacts of climate change mean DOC is faced with even more complex management challenges.

“DOC is aware some native species management practices will need to be adapted to meet the additional challenges brought by climate change.”

The chick’s death was a sad event and very upsetting to Royal cam fans and the rangers working with the albatross colony, Nicola Toki says.

“Life at the albatross colony is a fascinating story and will no doubt continue to have ups and downs.

“Right now, things are looking good for the new Royal cam chick. She’s over 3 kg and is still being partly guarded by WO and GO.

“Keen Royal cam viewers may remember WO and GO building their nest within Royal cam’s view last year once last year’s chick Tūmanako fledged.

“We’re very lucky; the camera’s cable stretches just far enough to reach WO and GO’s nest with their new chick,” Nicola Toki says.

You can watch the albatross chick on http://www.doc.govt.nz/royalcam.

© Scoop Media

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