And this year, those who watched Tiaki grow up on the livestream can continue to follow his journey through a satellite tracker that will help better understand where albatrosses go in their early years.
The chicks grew steadily from hatching through January and February. The first to fly or leave the nest took off on September 6. They are all expected to have taken off in early October.
Department of Biodiversity Conservation Ranger Theo Thompson says it’s gratifying to see so many chicks leaving the colony after a successful season.
“If all the remaining chicks fly successfully, we will have a record year of 30 chicks. Previously the most chicks we had was 28.
“Tiaki and the other chicks will spend the next four to ten years traveling thousands of miles at sea without once touching land, before finally returning to Taiaroa Head to breed. “
He says Tiaki has been a calm but chatty girl who has been healthy all season – providing great viewing for those who tune into Royal Cam.
So far this season (as of December 1, 2020), the livestream has had over 2.3 million views and has been watched for approximately 400,000 hours.
Otago Peninsula Trust Ecotourism Director Hoani Langsbury said it was a great time of year at the Royal Albatross Center: “I become an empty nest for a short time after the chicks have fled, but the void is quickly filled by the return of the breeders for the coming season. .
“Pukekura is the only accessible place on the planet to observe the majestic comings and goings of the Northern Royal Albatross!” Haere haumaru! Until the next Royal Cam chick is crowned.
DOC’s senior marine science adviser Igor Debski said a 20g solar-powered satellite tracker, installed on Tiaki on September 9, will provide valuable information on where these birds go to feed during their firsts. years.
“It will help us understand where they face the risk of bycatch in the fishery.
“Tiaki’s parents both had trackers installed in February. His father LGK has driven more than 65,000 kilometers since.
The trackers are taped to feathers on the backs of the birds. They are designed to last for about a year and will fall off when the albatross muera.
Royal Cam is a live broadcast from the northern toroa / royal albatross colony at Pukekura / Taiaroa Head, on the Otago Peninsula. The colony is the only continental site in the world to observe northern royal albatrosses in their natural habitat. Each year the livestream focuses on a breeding pair as they raise a chick from an egg until it flies away (leaves the headland).
This year, Royal Cam has focused on Tiaki, a female albatross who hatched on January 24. Her parents LGL (female) and LGK (male) also bred the Royal Cam Karere chick in 2019.
Tiaki means to take care, protect or save. His name was chosen from over 700 public submissions in the annual chick name contest.
The royal toroa / northern albatross is one of the largest seabirds in the world, with a wingspan of up to 3m. It is a vulnerable species that has been affected by changes in habitat and climate and by certain fishing practices.
They also reproduce slowly, with breeding pairs typically raising a chick once every two years.
DOC manages the albatross colony with support from the Otago Peninsula Trust, Te Poari a Pukekura (Pukekura Co-management Trust, which governs Pukekura / Taiaroa Head) and Dunedin City Council. It went from a breeding pair in 1937 to over 60 pairs in 2020.
Royal Cam has joined Cornell Lab’s Global Live Bird Camera Network last year, upgrading DOC’s existing website so that the stream now has new features such as the ability to panning and night vision. Night vision gives international streamers the ability to tune in at any time of the day, whereas previously they missed much of the albatross action due to different time zones.
Pukekura / Taiaroa Head is an important site for its cultural and historical values, as well as for the other taonga species that live there. It is home to around 10,000 birds, including red-billed gulls, razorbills, spotted cormorants, otago cormorants, titi and king spoonbills.
Thirty royal albatrosses from the northern Motuhara colony in the Chatham Islands have also been fitted with trackers. While Royal Cam birds have traveled primarily in New Zealand waters so that they can return regularly to feed Tiaki, some of the Motuhara birds have previously traveled in waters from southern South America to southern Brazil.