Introduction

The Department of Conservation (DOC), with assistance from the New Zealand Navy, has carried out the first ever survey of the rare Auckland Island shag in the remote subantarctic islands.

Date:  06 March 2012

The Department of Conservation (DOC), with assistance from the New Zealand Navy, has carried out the first ever survey of the rare Auckland Island shag in the remote subantarctic islands.

A team of DOC researchers travelled the 465 kilometres south from Bluff on board the Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Wellington to undertake the work.

“This species of shag is found only on these isolated islands, and we now have valuable information to work from,” said, Programme Manager Offshore Islands, Pete McClelland.

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Auckland Island shags.
Auckland Island shags

The Auckland Island shag is listed as ‘nationally vulnerable’ and any data collected will help guide DOC’s management of the species. “Their numbers seem to be good and we will continue to monitor and learn more about them.”

The survey also included rockhopper penguin colonies on Auckland Island and the information gathered suggested a decline in their numbers. Mr. McClelland said the reason for the decline was unclear and more worked was required.

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Rockhopper penguin.
Rockhopper penguin

The voyage also enabled planners to assess the island and its issues firsthand.  A management plan for the islands is being developed which will cover issues such as increasing tourist demand, conservation of natural values and pest control.

The subantarctic islands are difficult to reach because of their remoteness. “We couldn’t do this work without the help of the NZ Navy,” said Mr. McClelland.  The Navy’s offshore patrol vessels are ideal for this sort of work and DOC is grateful for their support.

Navy vessel and DOC staff. Photo: Kaitlyn White.
Navy vessel

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Contact

Pete McClelland, Programme Manager Offshore Islands, Department of Conservation. Phone: +64 3 211 2425. Email: pmcclelland@doc.govt.nz

See also:

New Zealand's subantarctic islands

Penguins

See a list of New Zealand's threatened birds. This includes all nationally critical, nationally endangered, and nationally vulnerable New Zealand birds.

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