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Large number of dead birds a concern

Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014
Fire DDN

BIG QUESTION: Danika, 5 and Alsya, 7 Hilliam and their puppy check out one of 12 dead albatross which Noel Hilliam has seen washed up on Ripiro Beach, south of Glinks Gully.

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Dargaville & Districts

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Why have a significant number of dead albatross washed up on Ripiro Beach?

Regular beach patroller Noel Hilliam says he saw 12 dead albatross washed up along about five kilometres of beach south of Glinks gully about two weeks ago.

"I've never seen anything like this before. You sometimes see the odd one but never this."

He says the birds appeared to have been dead for some time and were "looking pretty battered."

"I'd like to know what caused it. Was it starvation, something they ate or a big storm?"

Mr Hilliam contacted the Department of Conservation but had not heard back from them at the time of print.

A live but exhausted southern royal albatross was found on the beach in mid January and taken to the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre where, despite initially improving, it died.

Co-owner of the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre, Robert Webb says he is concerned to learn there has been so many dead birds on the west coast beach.

"We usually hear about a few birds, but not as many as this. I am very concerned their deaths may not be due to stormy weather which is the normal cause.

Mr Webb said these ocean flying birds can fall victim to exhaustion from struggling with extreme off shore weather conditions.

He is also worried the birds have been left on the beach.

"An autopsy should be performed on one of these birds, to confirm the cause of death. The birds should also be removed and checked for identity bands and then buried," said Mr Webb.

From the photograph sent to him by the Dargaville and Districts News he believes the bird to be a wandering albatross, but says it is difficult to be absolutely sure because of the bird's condition.

"‘We have had four wandering albatross at the recovery centre on the last few years that had been banded.

"One in Florida, two during Antarctica expeditions and one from the Bismark Islands."

Information on their recovery is sent to the country of origin.

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- Dargaville News

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