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Help name the latest online sensation

Millions of people have spent the last three years watching her neighbours grow up. Now for the third year running the Department of Conservation is inviting people to help name the newest Royal cam albatross chick at the Taiaroa Head colony on Otago Peninsula.

The online naming competition launches today and for the first time the gender of the chick is already known. DOC's Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki says this news will delight thousands of albatross fans.

“Unlike previous seasons, we’ve known the gender of this chick from a very early age by analysing the DNA from the contents of the hatched shell. This season’s chick is female and is already known to be the most adventurous in the colony.”

DOC is now searching for a special name for the chick under the theme of ‘Female Explorers’. Without a name the DOC rangers have been affectionately calling her ‘Dora’.

“Nicknames are great, but the chick will lose her down and fledge into an elegant master of the ocean waves as she flies vast distances around the Southern Ocean,” says Nicola Toki.

”We are looking for a name that is inspired by adventure and curiosity, so we encourage you to let your imagination run free.”

More than two million people have tuned in since 2016 to check out the live webcam (‘Royal cam’) at the albatross colony at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula. The newest chick has already received tens of thousands of views from people all over the world.

Otago Peninsula Trust’s Manager of Ecotourism Hoani Langsbury says the Royal cam has drawn further attention to the albatross colony.

“It’s incredible how much impact the previous Royal cam chicks, Moana and Tūmanako, have had in drawing in thousands of fans who’ve been so supportive of our work. I’m looking forward to seeing what name they come up with for this newest chick.”

The royal albatross colony is the only place in the world to see northern royal albatross breeding on a mainland site. There are more than 150,000 visitors a year to this protected area. DOC manages the albatross colony with the support of the Otago Peninsula Trust, Te Poāri a Pukekura (Pukekura Co-management Trust) and Dunedin City Council.

The colony has benefited from decades of DOC’s management and predator control. It has grown from one breeding pair in 1937 to over 60 pairs in 2017. 10,000 seabirds are also thriving at Taiaroa Head, including threatened species like red-billed gulls and Otago shags.

Nicola Toki says the previous two competitions have proven popular with thousands of entries from all over the world. She’s keen to see even more come through this year.

"We love seeing our dedicated fans asking questions, posting photos and keeping an eye on the chick. This competition is a fun way to thank the chick’s followers while also promoting the Royal cam and the albatross colony.”

People have until 10am Tuesday 5 June 2018 to submit ideas. Te Poāri a Pukekura will choose the top five names and the winning name will be decided by public vote before being announced on 20 June. The competition is also open to people offshore although the winner would need to pay their own way to New Zealand to participate in the prize.

“And it is a brilliant prize, thanks to Air New Zealand for flights for two to Otago, the Otago Peninsula Trust, which will host the lucky couple on their visit to meet the chick, and Larnach Castle, that will accommodate the winners in royal style for two nights. It also includes visits to view blue penguins, Fletcher House and Glenfalloch Gardens,” says Nicola Toki.

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