IT’S ESTIMATED WE’RE LOSING 2,300 OF THESE BIRDS A YEAR. THE POPULATION IS IN FREEFALL.UNLESS WE ACT IMMEDIATELY WE COULD LOSE THIS INCREDIBLE BIRD.
Photo credit: Jodi Osgood-Webber
THE SENTINEL OF THE OCEAN
Taylormade Media and a host of talented people came together to tell the story of the incredible Antipodean albatross and the dangers it faces at sea.
Made by Taylormade Media for Live Ocean / Writer/Director – Brendan Donovan / Editor – Sarah Grohnert / Animation – Animation Research Ltd – Ken Gorrie, Mark McQuillan, Sarah Dolby, Ben Sharpe, Aleeza Stettner / Cinematographer – Ian McCarroll / Producers – Ian Taylor, Tess Whelan / Presenters – Blair Tuke, Peter Burling, Noenoe Barclay-Kerr / Narrator – Manawanui Maniapoto Mills / Footage courtesy of The Ocean Race, James Reardon/Last Planet Ltd, Finlay Cox, Dr Graeme Elliott, Dr Kath Walker, NHNZ, Heritage Expeditions, James Muir, Encounter Kaikoura, The Nature Conservancy, Charlie Barnett, Otto Whitehead, Project Tamar/Pró-Tamar Foundation / Music credits – “Shallow Water” (ft Yehezkel Raz), Artist: Sivan Talmor, Album: Vol.1 – Underwater Fantasies / “Up to the sky”, Artist: Roman P, Album: Planet Legacy / “Heritage”, Artist: Ben Winwood, Album: Selah
“As a country we need to turn this around. That means continuing to collect data on where the birds are dying and being prepared to act on it so we’re not tracking these birds to extinction. We can’t be the first country in the world to lose an albatross species. That’s not a race New Zealand should win.”
THE RACE TO SAVE
THE ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS
Sailors who’ve spent time in the southern ocean have a special connection to toroa/albatrosses. While they’re battling the winds and waves of the most inhospitable ocean in the world, an albatross will often appear. These enormous seabirds, with their massive three-metre wingspan, make using the wind look effortless. These great ocean voyagers are the most threatened group of birds in the world, and the main threat is from getting accidentally caught during fishing. There are twenty-two species of albatross in the world, and fifteen are facing extinction.
Aotearoa New Zealand is the albatross capital of the world, with more nesting and breeding here than anywhere else. The Antipodean albatross is the most threatened with Department of Conservation (DOC) estimates show we are losing 2,300 birds a year of this one population.
Live Ocean has been working to assist the long term monitoring programme. In 2019, our generous donors raised funds for GPS satellite trackers that show where the albatrosses are feeding. This information is then overlaid by DOC scientists with Global Fishing Watch data to identify the fishing fleets they encounter at sea. This analysis provides accurate data on which fleets are overlapping with these birds. Live Ocean supported the 20/21 voyage to the Antipodes Islands which saw the largest ever deployment of satellite trackers on an albatross population in this country. Gathering this data is vital. Live Ocean also works to connect people to the issue by championing the plight of the Antipodean albatross in the public arena.
Since 2004, we’ve lost 60% of our breeding pairs. The population is in freefall and unless we act immediately and with urgency, we will lose this incredible bird in as little as twenty years. In February 2020, Antipodean albatross were listed in Appendix 1 of the Convention on Migratory Species, the world’s most serious threat classification system for migratory species, alongside other well-known species such as blue whales and snow leopards.
These birds are New Zealanders. They breed on our Antipodes Islands and the Pacific and Tasman Seas are their home range. Albatrosses and other seabirds are ship followers and are accidentally caught when longlines are being set by commercial fishing vessels. It is thought climate change is driving the albatrosses to feed in more northern waters where large fishing fleets are concentrated. There are proven solutions that would stop deaths tomorrow, including setting fishing lines at night, adding weights near each hook, and using a bird-scaring line. This is a global issue and New Zealand’s fleets should set an example for the world.
Photo credit: James Blake Volvo AB