Black petrel count on over summer

The first team of volunteers to help with monitoring included commercial fishermen and their families, the manager of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, as well as staff from the Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries.

05.02.2014

Great Barrier is the home to the last remaining breeding stronghold of the rare black petrel and this month researchers are doing the annual census of the population.

 

“Over the next few months, visitors walking up Mt Hobson on Great Barrier Island can expect to see people checking the breeding status of the birds, which includes counting the eggs or chicks from 424 study burrows,” says Biz Bell, senior ecologist who led the first team of volunteers late last month. 

 

Biz says the next trip to Great Barrier Island will take place from 20 January to 7 February and she encourages any one on the Island to stop and ask the team questions about the black petrel. A further trip is planned in April.

 

“It’s a great opportunity for the public and those interested in seabirds to ask the team about the work we do and to find out more about these amazing, special and vulnerable birds,” says Biz.

 

For those who are unable to see the birds first hand, check out Southern Seabird Solutions Trust’s video on the black petrel, narrated by well-known wildlife biologist, Cam Speedy. Go straight to the video.

 

The first team of volunteers to help out this summer included commercial fishermen and their families, the chief executive of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, as well as staff from the Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries.

 

“Black petrel once bred in the mountain forests from northwest Nelson to Northland. Today, there are fewer than 1500 breeding pairs of black petrels left, in colonies on Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf,” says Biz. 

 

These seabirds have been lost from the mainland because of a range of predators including stoats and today their main threats are recreational and commercial fishing.

 

One of the volunteers on the most recent trip, Tim Higham, Chief Executive of the Hauraki Gulf Forum brought along his young son and nephew to help with the count. 

 

“It was a great opportunity to get a ‘hands-on’ experience, and I was really encouraged to see the fishers and their families also actively taking part and keen to look at ways of reducing the threats to the birds,” says Tim Higham.                                                                                                                 

 

The fishing contingency included skippers, Adam Clow and Zak Olsen, who were last year’s recipients of the Southern Seabird Solutions SMART awards for commitment to strengthening seabird culture with fishers, as well as deckhands from Whitianga.  Adam also brought along his four year old daughter.

 

“This is my second trip to the Island and the first for the deckhands who were blown away by the experience, including holding these amazing birds,” says Adam Clow who also transported the team to the Island.

 

“We’re keen to do our bit to help the survival of these birds and already do a lot to avoid catching them. This experience really brought home how vulnerable the birds are and how important our role is in keeping the birds away when we fish,” says Adam.

 

ENDS

 

For more information contact:

 

Biz Bell Email: biz@wmil.co.nz

 

Adam Clow  027 269 9844