One last feed before heading off

Migrating seabirds are getting ready for their long haul journey north for winter.

11.05.2016

NZ is the seabird capital of the world with more types of seabirds breeding here than anywhere else.  Many of these seabirds only spend summer in NZ and are now getting set to fly thousands of nautical miles north to warmer seas. 

Claudia Mischler, one of the team monitoring the rare black petrel on Great Barrier Island says that this time of year, the chicks have hatched and are really hungry. Both parents will be ferrying food back to the nest, so they are feeding close to home, in waters between Great Barrier Island and North Cape.  

"It's a really important time to make sure the adults aren’t caught or injured on fishing lines because the chicks need to grow big enough to make their maiden voyage back to South American waters for winter" Claudia says.

Two black petrel have been found in the colony with recreational fishing hooks embedded in them this summer. One had an 80cm trace on it that could easily have been tangled in vegetation and the bird starved to death.

Anglers can make all the difference to seabird survival by taking a few basic steps when fishing: 

  • Keeping bait covered (or in your chilly bin) until you are ready to use it.
  • Clean up any fish blood and scraps to avoid attracting seabirds to your boat. 
  • Keep fish scraps and old bait - anything that would attract birds to you - in a covered bucket until you've got your hooks out of the water.
  • Sink bait and burley well below six meters fast when seabirds are close - they are less likely to see it.
  • If you need to move seabirds away from your gear - throw a bucket of water or squirt a deck hose toward them.
  • If you accidentally catch a bird, treat it with care. Net the bird, if the hook is visible cut it in half or squash the barb and take it out. If the hook has been swallowed, cut as much fishing line off it as possible. See safe seabird release guidelines here.