Hope for critically endangered species

21 February 2012
New Zealand storm petrel
New Zealand storm petrel

Evidence that the critically endangered New Zealand storm petrel is breeding on islands in the Hauraki Gulf has been discovered by Dr Matt Rayner from the School of Biological Sciences working with conservationist Chris Gaskin and Department of Conservation officer Shane McInnes.

Earlier this month the research team captured five of the rare birds at sea using a specially designed net gun. Four of the petrels had “brood patches” on their bellies used to incubate eggs, suggesting that they were breeding locally.

The team will continue with its capture programme throughout February and March to learn more about the bird’s breeding behaviour.

New Zealand storm petrels, one of the world’s rarest seabirds, were believed to be extinct until one was sighted off in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in 2003.

The International Union of the Conservation of Nature lists the species as critically endangered, and finding out where they breed is essential for their conservation.