The Hauraki Gulf Seabirds of the Year 2019
The annual Bird of the Year competition (hosted by Forest and Bird) has just opened for voting for 2019! Given that >20% of the world's seabird species can be seen in New Zealand, we're backing those found in the Hauraki Gulf for the title this year.
Australasian Gannet (Tākapu)
Conservation Status: Not Threatened
We are the number one fans of the Australasian gannet - they feed on the same fish as the common dolphins so often where they are, the dolphins are too.
They can plunge dive from heights of up to 15m and dive down up to 20m underwater so they are highly adapted for what they do. They have air sacs around their chest and necks which inflate to cushion the blow and are able to change the shape of their eye lenses meaning that they can accurately pursue and capture prey underwater!
Spotted Shag (Parekareka)
Spotted Shag (c: Catherine Lea)
Conservation Status: Not Threatened but Nationally Vulnerable in the Hauraki Gulf
You can spot several different species of shag in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park but we thought we'd feature one who we believe needs some support!
Historically, this species could be seen throughout the Hauraki Gulf (the most northerly area of its range) but the numbers have been reduced so much (due to illegal shooting and incidental catch in fishing nets and lines) that they are now only found on Tarahiki and Waiheke Islands.
Scientists have set up decoy birds on the Noises Islands in hopes of re-establishing a colony there.
Black Petrel (Tāiko)
Black Petrel (c: Catherine Lea)
Conservation Status: Nationally Vulnerable
Threats: predation, entanglement/bycatch
One of four seabird species that breed only in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and nowhere else in the world. After breeding on Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands, black petrels migrate to South American waters around August-September.
Sometimes seen in the inner Hauraki Gulf on our safaris and can often be seen in association with pelagic cetacean species like pilot whales.
Little blue penguin (Kororā)
Little blue penguin
Conservation Status: Declining
Threats: predation, entanglement, water clarity (penguins use their eyes to hunt)
13 of the world's 18 penguin species have been seen in New Zealand and here in Auckland, we have the smallest penguin species in the world - the little blue penguin!
They come ashore at night to their nesting areas on some of the Hauraki Gulf islands and are often seen during the day on our whale watching safaris, bobbing around by themselves or in small groups (known as rafts) on the ocean looking for their next feed.
Fairy tern (Tara Iti)
Fairy tern (c: Oscar Thomas)
Conservation Status: Nationally Critical
Threats: predation, human and vehicular disturbance, environmental factors
Did you know that the subspecies of fairy tern found in New Zealand is actually the most endangered out of all of New Zealand's endemic birds with only about 40 birds left?!
All of these birds nest in the Auckland-Northland region including at Waipu and Mangawhai sandspits. In recent years, there has been the odd nest at Te Arai which is within the boundary of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
What you can do:
- Vote for NZ Bird of the Year