Subtitled – Spot the Real Gannet!
Part of the Auckland Zoo conservation work on Rotoroa Island is involving the establishing of a gannet colony. Gannets already live around the coast of New Zealand so you may wonder how on earth do you persuade gannets that you have you desirable real estate for them to settle in?
The answer is with ‘realistically’ painted artificial gannets and by playing gannet noises over a loudspeaker to attract them in to land.
At the time of the photograph below, only one gannet had made home there, and had made friends with the artificial ones. Sad in one way, a possibly joyous start to a new colony in another way. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Can you spot the real gannet?
Just to the South of Napier lies Cape Kidnappers. Named due to a local Maori tribe kidnapping one of Captain Cook’s cabin boys (who escaped back to the ship), here lies the largest mainland Gannet colony in the world. Incredibly, you can get within a few metres of them without them being in the least bit bothered by your presence.
They are noisy, they smell (best to stay upwind!) and they could quite possibly be one of the most pretty birds in the world. Stunning white and cream feathers and blue eyes.
We took a tour with Gannet Beach Adventures where you are pulled along the beach by tractor and get to enjoy a fact-filled talk over around 4 hours. A beautiful way to see the Cape. Some Gannet facts…
1. Gannets have air sacs in their chest and head to cushion the impact of diving into the water at high speed.
2. Their nostrils are inside the mouth.
3. Their eyes are forward to give binocular vision and thus (just like us humans) allow accurate judging of distance.
4. They can hit the water at around 100kph, with their wings tucking behind them so they hit like an arrow.
5. No one knows why but the Gannets here, once fledged, fly to Australia for around 3-4 years before returning and then staying in New Zealand. No other Gannets are known to exhibit this behaviour.