Mobile Menu Open Mobile Menu Close

Southern royal albatross – a brief snapshot

Claudia Mischler

Department of Conservation, 15 Wairepo Road, Twizel 7901.

Southern royal albatross are endemic to New Zealand, and Campbell Island is home to over 99% of the southern royal breeding population. Since its discovery in 1810, the island has been affected by human modifications, such as sealing, whaling, and farming. Modifications have also reduced albatross numbers through direct depredation of eggs and chicks by cats and rats, depletion of suitable nesting habitat through sheep farming, and depredation of birds by humans. Southern royal albatross are slow to mature and only breed biennially and are therefore slow to recover from any population declines.

Between the 1940s and 1990s, breeding, banding, and population studies were set up in two plots on Campbell Island with regular and thorough studies from 1987 to 1998, and three additional plots were added in the 1990s to supplement study area counts. This has provided a clear baseline of data. The most recent census in 2004-2008 estimated 8,300 to 8,700 breeding pairs. In March 2020, a brief count of one of the study plots was conducted, and this presentation will report on these results and what it means for future monitoring on Campbell Island.