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Local Groups & Clubs

Catching a fish but not a bird

Southern Seabirds Trust is thrilled with how their summer campaign has been accepted on the eastern Coromandel over the summer months.
 |  Ann Ward  | 

As the Programme Co-ordinator, I found the boat ramp advocacy and school visits to be a particular highlight. I spoke with roughly 900 recreational fishers over the summer at seven different boat ramps. The people spoken to were not just boaties; they were surf casters and family groups fishing from the wharf as well.

I have been amazed at how much the children knew and how most people do respect the seabirds and appreciate their vulnerability and importance to our ecosystems. Everyone thought avoiding catching a bird was a good idea!

Southern seabirds would like to thank The Informer for supporting the ‘summer of seabirds’ by profiling a bird each week during the summer and for their very generous contribution to the children’s essay competition.   The winner Sophia……. from Te Rerenga School will be travelling with her Dad to Te Papa in  Wellington as part of the prize sponsored by The Informer. Sophia and the two runner -up winners were also presented with e special T Short from Southern Saea boards. All the contestants in the essay competition who were ‘Highly Recommended’  received a personalised certificate.

Many local businesses also deserve a special thank you, especially Coastal Sanctuary, The Glass Bottom Boat, Marine Adventures ltd and Dive Zone Whitianga for their kind donations, Andrea Whitehead for her photography. There are many other businesses around the Coromandel that also kindly allowed Southern Seabirds to display their pamphlets in their premises.

It is so warming to see a community really get behind something as important as our seabirds. The programme is hopefully to continue next year.

Southern Seabirds Trust works collaboratively with fishers to protect New Zealand seabirds

It is an innovative alliance between environmental, governmental and seafood industry organisations. Email: annward@xtra.co.nz

Winning Essay By Sophia Adshead Te Rerenga School

Royal Albatrosses

Mating for life, travelling for around 1600 km a day, spending most of their lives at sea. These are some of the stunning features of the albatross.

Albatrosses have quite narrow wings. I suppose this helps them with their massive amount of flying around. They have a long and thin pale pink beak; their head and butt are white with some dark shading on the wings and face. These beautiful birds are my favourite species of seabird because I find them quite relaxing and calming to look at. My mother always liked albatrosses, so whenever I see an albatross on TV, I always get reminded of her.

Albatrosses mate for life and spend a lot of time in their life searching for someone to breed with. Once they find that special someone, they mate until they die. Say if the mother or father passes away, that can be the only time when they search to find another mate. I mean, how big of a commitment is that? Imagine not being able to divorce your partner.

“Honey, take out the trash.”

“You know what? I’m done! I want a div- oh wait…”

I am genuinely shocked how albatrosses can do that. I find this feature special because by staying together, the couples build trust and communication, which you are definitely going to need if you are going to be raising chicks every single year.

Travelling for around 1600 km a day, albatrosses, in the winter, migrate to southern South America for up to 6 years. Sadly, they may not get to their destination because of commercial fishing boats, or just normal boats. A lot of fishing boats use harmful methods for fishing. For example, recreational fishing attracts seabirds to the boat. The seabird will see the bait, thinking they just got a free score of a meal, but they will easily get caught on the fishing hook and drown. This doesn’t apply to just albatrosses; this applies to most seabirds. I feel like this feature is special to albatrosses because these amazing birds are known for their ability to fly. The fact that they can stay flying for days or even weeks at a time genuinely amazes me. And the fact that they will stay in southern South America for up to 6 years. Like, wouldn’t they be homesick?

Spending most of their lives at sea, albatrosses only come back to land when laying eggs, or taking care of chicks. Otherwise, they are either migrating or spending their days on the ocean surface. Albatrosses spend that time on the sea eating squid, fish and other crustaceans and then fly home to feed their chicks.

There are many threats that can affect their chance of survival, such as climate change and over-fishing. I find this feature of spending so long at sea special because I just know that if I spent most of my days at sea, I would get really seasick. Genuinely shocking.

In conclusion, I would say that these birds are magical. Mating for life, spending 85% of their lives at sea and travelling for around 1600 km a day. Truly remarkable. Please protect these beautiful birds, so that they can continue to live and thrive.

Reference: Whitehead, E. (2024) Pollution. Clarkson, G. Whitehead, E. (2024) Climate Change. Clarkson, G.; Whitehead, E. (2024)Fisheries. Clarkson, G.