Gannets wanted for study

BIRD RESEARCH: Massey PhD student Gabriel Machovsky Capuska is doing research on the Australasian gannet.
Photo: BEN WATSON
BIRD RESEARCH: Massey PhD student Gabriel Machovsky Capuska is doing research on the Australasian gannet.

Massey University's Gabriel Machovsky Capuska is asking North Shore locals to keep an eye out for dead gannets.

The PhD student who has researched marine life in Antarctic is collecting gannet carcasses to study their diet and better understand the health of marine life in the Hauraki Gulf.

Now is the best time to find Australasian gannet carcasses because it is breeding time and young birds are learning to fly, says Mr Machovsky Capuska.

He and his professor David Raubenheimer have collected 50 gannet carcasses in the North Shore area with permission from the Department of Conservation.

Not all of them have fitted the criteria of the research.

There are three gannet colonies in the Hauraki Gulf. One is at Gannet Rock near Waiheke Island and there are two near the Coromandel Peninsula.

The gannets feed on squid, mackerel and pilcher fish. The gannet population has been increasing over the last couple of years, says Mr Machovsky Capuska.

The main question that the research seeks to answer is "How do gannets locate their prey?"

The three-year long study will also include underwater footage of the birds.

Mr Machovsky Capuska says the birds need to be collected either floating in the water or found washed up on the beach.

The animal needs to be as fresh as possible, a death in the past 24 hours.

It will need to be put in a plastic bag immediately and frozen after collection.

A time and GPS reading of where it was found would also be helpful, he says.

Call Gabriel Machovsky Capuska on 021-058-7139 or his wife Karen on 021-351-165.

North Shore Times