16 Jan 2012

Albatrosses to text researchers hunting habits

8:52 pm on 16 January 2012

Albatrosses will soon be sending text messages about how they feed their young.

A zoology student this week expects to fit the first tracking devices to use cell phone technology to Royal Albatross on Otago peninsula.

Junichi Sugishita hopes to find out where one of the largest seabirds on Earth goes to find food for its nesting chicks, how much they bring back and how this changes as the chicks grow up.

He has devised a system to track parent albatrosses from the time they leave their young chicks and report the movements every time they come back.

A text messaging service sends a report of the bird's travels whenever it returns.

GPS satellite trackers, radio identifiers, electronic scales and time lapse cameras are involved.

Up to 40 birds will be fitted with three different electronic devices for the next seven months.

The electronics avoid having to catch the adults or weigh the chicks every time they get fed.

Previous research has shown the birds might be travel up to 1000km across the Pacific Ocean each hunting trip.

Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula is their only mainland breeding site in the world.