Albatross chick off South America coast

Toroa, the 500th Taiaroa Head royal albatross chick, has been at sea for almost a year, and has spent most of it off the coast of South America.

It is not known whether he will venture back into New Zealand waters.

The chick is one of three being tracked, unprecedented, by satellite, on an up-to-eight-year sojourn, with GPS locations being taken every six hours and returned via satellite for mapping and analysis.

Information on only two of the chicks is now coming back.

The third chick was last tracked in February.

Department of Conservation ranger Lyndon Perriman said either the unit had failed or fallen off, or the chick was dead.

It was possible its fate would never be known, he said.

Staff were pleased the satellite trackers had stayed on the other two.

Toroa had stayed around South America and the coast of Chile for much of the year, recently between 46 and 48 s, and had made one brief trip almost 300km out from the coast.

He had been tracked for almost a year, and had travelled a total minimum distance of 38,700km since September.

The second chick was spending time in similar territory at 33 and 35 s, which was still well within her regular area.

It was also unknown whether the second chick would return, Mr Perriman said.

"It has been neat getting good information back on where they are in South America and that all three were there, close together," he said.

This year, Doc hoped to put trackers on adolescent birds, who returned to the colony in months, rather than years.

It was planned to follow their migration, Mr Perriman said.


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