21 Jul 2018

New sub-species of sea bird discovered in NZ

12:07 pm on 21 July 2018

A new sub-species of sea bird has been discovered hiding among the sand dunes on Whenua Hou, or Codfish Island, in the deep south.

The Whenua Hou diving petrel.

The Whenua Hou diving petrel. Photo: Department of Conservation

About 250 Whenua Hou diving petrels have been discovered along a one kilometre sand strip on the island.

Victoria University researcher Johannes Fischer said the birds were initially thought to be South Georgian Diving Petrels.

But scientists quickly noticed differences in size, shape and colour.

The Department of Conservation is now working on a protection plan for the birds.

Whenua Hou is about three kilometres west of Rakiura or Stewart Island.