Date: 20 July 2020
The albatross, one of the largest seabirds in the world was found by a member of the public, Blake Barnsfield, who contacted the Department of Conservation (DOC).
DOC staff collected the bird and passed it on to a volunteer at Bird Rescue Whakatāne to nurse back to health.
Rowena Hayes from Bird Rescue Whakatāne said the bird was very weak when it arrived.
“It could hardly walk, it would use its beak as a support to stand like a walking stick. After a few days it started to perk up and I had to get an assistant to help check over the bird. Their wingspan is about 3 metres, so it was quite spectacular when it stretched its wings. I’m happy that we were able to release it back to the wild,” Rowena said.
The albatross was released on Wednesday, 15 July.
Thirteen varieties of albatross breed in the New Zealand region, including the highly threatened subspecies of Antipodean wandering albatross and Gibson’s wandering albatross which this bird is believed to be. Only a total of 5,200 breeding pairs of both subspecies exist today and they breed on small islands in the Southern Ocean.
Albatrosses are under increasing threat from climate change, predation from introduced species, plastic pollution, habitat loss and fishing bycatch.
They can soar through the sky without flapping their wings for several hours at a time. They’re so efficient at flying that they can use up less energy in the air than they would while sitting in a nest.
They are only occasionally seen on the Bay of Plenty shoreline, usually washing up after large storms and heavy seas.
If you find an injured native bird ring Bird Rescue Whakatāne +64 27 209 0567 or 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
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