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The first toroa (northern royal albatross) returnee of the 2021-22 breeding season is a 4-year-old male, banded YL (Yellow Lime).
He hatched and fledged from Taiaroa Head in 2017, and since then he has been on an incredible solo journey, circumnavigating the southern oceans, flying thousands of kilometres before touching down on solid ground again at his natal colony in Dunedin.
Staff at the colony now have their fingers crossed that YL has a successful summer of courtship, and in time, finds a partner for life.
To celebrate his arrival, bells across the city pealed at 1pm yesterday.
As well as the traditional bells, many people set bell chimes on their mobile phones to ring at 1pm, and a “welcome back" flag was hoisted outside the mayor’s office.
Dunedin hosts the world’s only mainland northern royal albatross breeding colony, which is a source of pride and a symbol of the city, the wildlife capital of New Zealand.
Department of Conservation ranger Theo Thompson said a record-breaking 30 toroa were expected to fledge this spring.
"This is great news for the mainland population and a credit to everyone involved, both this season and in previous years."