July 2020
This is the final report for POP2017-03: Salvin's albatross Bounty Islands population project


This project involved the deployment, and in some cases retrieval, of tracking tags on breeding Salvin’s albatrosses (Thalassarche salvini) on the Bounty Islands, and to complete ground-based surveys. This fieldwork involved deploying transmitting Global Positioning System (GPS) and Platform Transmitting Terminal (PTT) tracking devices and geolocation data loggers (Global Location Sensing (GLS) tags) on breeding birds on Proclamation Island, Bounty Islands; banding and recapturing birds in a study area; completing counts of breeding and non-breeding birds along transects at various time of the day; and deploying automated time-lapse cameras that covered part of the study area.

In the first year of the project, 14 transmitting GPS tags were deployed on breeding Salvin’s albatrosses, all but one of which produced locations for periods of approximately 100 days following deployment. In the second year of the project a further four transmitting GPS tags and 12 PTT tags were deployed on breeding Salvin’s albatrosses, which also operated successfully, on average, for approximately 100 days. Additionally, in the first year of the project, 54 GLS tags were deployed on breeding Salvin’s albatrosses, of which 33 were successfully retrieved in the second year of the project. The location data acquired from these different tags revealed that Salvin’s albatross at the Bounty Islands exploited waters to the east of mainland New Zealand, with ‘hotspots’ located towards the east coast of the northern part of South Island and the southern part of North Island, with further ‘hotspots’ towards the central and western sections of the Chatham Rise, and also Mernoo Bank. There was some relatively limited evidence that waters of the Stewart-Snares shelf were also favoured, together with waters to the southeast of the Bounty Islands. These results appear to support the idea that Salvin’s albatrosses at the Bounty Islands and at the Western Chain in the Snares Islands, the only other New Zealand breeding site for this species, tend to utilise separate areas within the New Zealand region during the breeding season, with birds from the Western Chain exhibiting a more westerly distribution.

Over the course of the project’s two field trips, a total of 141 breeding Salvin’s albatrosses were banded, all but one with both metal and plastic leg bands, at a study site on Proclamation Island. In both years, birds banded in 1985 and 2012 were resighted, and of the 98 birds banded in 2018, 57 were resighted in 2019. In the first year of the project, replicated ground-truthing counts were completed at the same time as an aerial photographic survey of breeding Salvin’s albatross was undertaken. The ground-truthing revealed that a mean of 47% of birds were actively breeding. Finally, in the first year of the project, six trail cameras were deployed in the study site covering a total of approximately 41 active nests. Each camera was set to take photographs at hourly intervals during daylight hours, and all cameras were retrieved in the second year of the project. All but one camera produced imagery, three for the entire year’s deployment and two for part of the year.

Publication information

Thompson, D., Sagar, P., Briscoe. D., Parker, G., Rexer-Huber, K. and Charteris, M. 2020. Salvin's albatross Bounty Islands population project. POP2017-03 final report prepared by NIWA for the Conservation Services Programme, Department of Conservation. 23 p.


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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