New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

Royals) and they became ensnared in the lines and drown. In addition to their large size, albatross exhibit other superlatives: they are the largest flying birds with the longest wingspans, they live the longest (up to 50 years), they have the longest incubation period of any birds, and they fly the longest distances of any birds (the equivalent of 18 trips back and forth to the moon in their lifetimes). It is not unusual for an albatross to fly 600 miles in a single day. Most amazingly, these birds make this prodigious trip using fewer wing flaps than a sparrow uses when flying across a street! And don’t forget, when fledged a young bird does not return to land for 6-7 years; they are on the wing that entire time except when they settle for a rest on the sea surface. They sleep while they fly: one half of the brain sleeps while the other stays awake. Albatross return to their birthplace to conduct their own contributions to the survival of their species. They meet one another while around 5 or 6 and begin to perform the “gamming” or mating rituals that will finally help them choose a mate which will be their partner for life. But actually breeding usually doesn’t start until they are closer to 10 years old. Another problem with maintaining a stable population. So what is DOC doing to help these magnificent birds? The care that is taken in keeping Campbell Island predator free has already been discussed, as has the policy of allowing very few visitations to the island. There are 24 species of albatross (there is some discussion among taxonomists about the exact number, but this is close enough for our purposes) and 14 of them breed in New Zealand. Astoundingly, 40% of all Albatross live in the areas we visited on this trip. New Zealand, through the work of DOC, is working to prevent long line and drift net fishing in its territorial waters. New Zealand was a signatory to a treaty to end drift-netting as long ago as 1989. A levy is collected from all legal fishing operations in NZ territorial waters to help fund research to protect seabirds of all kinds. Part of DOC research involves satellite transmitters attached to birds to determine where they go and what happens to them.

Bird banding is also practiced for the same purpose. Another very important

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