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Scientists survey Southern Ocean albatross

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/01/2017

With majestic white capped albatross busy breeding in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, scientists are set to travel hundreds of kilometres to survey their populations.

The islands located in the frigid Southern Ocean, 465km south of New Zealand seaport Bluff, are home to 95 per cent of the world's white capped population.

To survey the hundreds of thousands of birds, scientists will take to the skies in a helicopter.

"(This) allows us to create valuable data sets that give consistent information on breeding patterns and adult populations," said Richard Wells from non-profit fishing industry co-operative Deepwater Group.

"These are important birds, that at times interact with our fisheries, so it's vital for us to know how they are doing because we all need them to prosper.

Now in its ninth year, the survey is a collaboration between the Department of Conservation, Seafood New Zealand, Deepwater Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

With government funding being stretched on other projects, Mr Wells said the fishing industry had tipped in additional cash to keep the survey running.

With a wingspan of more than two-metres, white-capped albatross, are believed to travel thousands of kilometres to forage, including far as the coast of south-western Africa and the south Atlantic.

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