Heritage Expeditions' Mike Bell and team provide new hope for Chatham Albatross


Chatham Island Chick in its box being passed to the Zodiac crew for transfer to the fishing boat  Mike Bell selecting chicks for translocation on Pyramid

Heritage Expeditions’ staff member Mike Bell and the team at the Chatham Island Taiko Trust and their partners have been working extremely hard in their efforts to safeguard the future of the Chatham Island Albatross.

With approximately 5000 breeding pairs, the Chatham Island Albatross is classed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Having only one breeding ground, the rocky islet called the Pyramid, south of Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands adds to the vulnerability of the population. Establishing another colony should encourage population growth by creating additional breeding space and also provide an insurance policy against habitat degradation and climate change. 

After years of planning, and in consultation with the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology, the team successfully translocated the first batch of Chatham Island albatross chicks from the Pyramid to a specially protected area on the mainland of the Chatham Islands. The protected area contains artificial nests, model adult albatross and an audio system playing albatross calls to simulate an active Chatham Island Albatross colony. The chicks will be fed and monitored daily, before fledgling in 3 -4 months time. When they are four years old, they should return to the colony and start breeding there from the age of seven.

This is only the second time that an albatross translocation has been carried out, and was modelled on the short-tailed albatross work done in Japan. Mike and the team are pleased to report that the chicks are doing well 
‘Each day we head out to the colony and feed them, half a kilo of fish and squid each a day! First we fed them with large syringes and now we just slip fish down their gullets. So far the translocation has gone well; the birds have been amazing and are taking everything in their stride. It is a pleasure to sit at the colony and watch them after they have been feed, sleeping off their big meal.’
Heritage Expeditions would like to congratulate Mike and the team on the successful implementation of phase one of this project. We will be following the chicks’ progress with interest. Mike will be a lecturer on Heritage Expeditions’ 11 day voyage to the Chatham Islands departing Invercargill on the 9th of March. Travel with Mike as he shares more about the this fascinating and important project. 

Learn more about the relocation project here

New Zealand’s Remote Islands – an 11 day expedition to the Chatham, Bounty and Antipodes Islands  9-19 March 2014, priced from $4800 USD – berths still available. 

Category: Subantarctic Islands
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