Seabird of the Year poll opens

A poll to find New Zealand’s most popular seabird has opened, at www.seabirdoftheyear.org.nz

The poll is run by the independent conservation charity Forest & Bird.

Some of those campaigning on behalf of a seabird include New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (Buller’s shearwater), United Future leader Peter Dunne (northern royal albatross), Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei (brown skua), expert fisherman Matt Watson (gannet), Dunedin’s Tainui School (fairy prion), and blogger Steve Attwood (black billed gull). 

The campaign managers will be creating posters, videos, and blogs in support of “their” birds during the poll.

Forest & Bird has run a bird of the year poll since 2005. But Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Karen Baird says only seabirds are eligible this year to highlight their importance and the significant threats to them. 

This year Forest & Bird published a report that identifies 97 globally significant areas for seabirds. New Zealand Seabirds: Important Birds Areas and Conservation is at www.forestandbird.org.nz/important-bird-areas

“New Zealand is a seabird superpower. More than one third of the world’s seabird species breed or spend at least some of their lives inside New Zealand territory. Thirty six of those species only breed in New Zealand,” Karen Baird says. 

“Sadly, nearly half the 86 seabirds in total that breed here are threatened with extinction. 

“No other country has as many seabirds breeding exclusively within its territory, so we have a real responsibility to protect these creatures,” Karen Baird says.  

Forest & Bird has several other projects under way aimed at protecting New Zealand’s seabird diversity. One project uses decoys to lure highly endangered New Zealand fairy terns to safer breeding sites. Only 8 – 10 breeding pairs of fairy tern are left alive.  

The Seabird of the Year poll runs until November 24. The winner of the poll will be announced early in the afternoon of the 24th.  

The launch of the poll coincides with the start of Conservation Week 2014.

The www.seabirdoftheyear.org.nz is live and voting opens November 3.