Doc intervention lifeline for albatross

Intervention by Department of Conservation staff has saved 17 of 26 royal northern albatross in the past year.

Taiaroa Head's royal albatross colony is the only mainland albatross breeding colony in the southern hemisphere.

The area is a protected reserve where Doc staff closely monitor the lives of the massive seabirds.

Doc ranger Lyndon Perriman said last season 35 pairs produced 37 eggs, and 26 chicks survived to leave the colony.

A review had shown intensive management of the chicks had saved at least 17 of the 26.

''Without assistance they would not have survived.''

Mr Perriman and staff closely monitored the birds, returning eggs to nests if they rolled out, removing maggots which can kill chicks and providing supplementary feeding when one or both parents did not return in a timely manner to feed a chick.

Last season, eggs were lost because of heat, eight chicks were fly-struck, requiring maggot removal, and two required long-term supplementary feeding four times a week.

The work would be needed until the population reached a size where it could sustain itself despite some losses, he said.

There were about 200 albatross in the colony but several hundred pairs would be needed before Doc could reduce management, he said.

This season 33 eggs had been laid and 32 tested and found to be fertile. The last chick left the colony on October 14 and the first egg was laid 12 days later.

This season's eggs are due to hatch in January.

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