Livestreaming Conservation

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A northern royal albatross inspects the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s ‘Royal Cam’, a 24/7 livestream that documents an albatross nest in breeding season. Photograph: Department of Conservation

The revolution may not be televised but conservation may be livestreamed from time to time, conditions permitting. Thanks to the Guardian for this story from New Zealand:

On a wing and a player: hopes webcam can save endangered albatross

Footage of tiny colony of birds on the southern tip of New Zealand captivates millions around the globe

nzalbMillions of amateur naturalists around the world have been tuning in to the secret lives of albatrosses as New Zealand rangers employ YouTube in a bid to save the mysterious giant sea birds.

New Zealand conservation teams set up a 24-hour live-stream of an albatross nest at Taiaroa Head on the Otago peninsula in 2016. Three years on, the feed has become an unexpected global hit, with 2.3 million people from 190 countries tuning in to watch the endangered birds rear their chicks on a frigid peninsula at the bottom of the world.

“Someone somewhere in the world is watching 24 hours a day,” says department of conservation (DoC) ranger Jim Watts.

“People watch it in hospitals, in nursing homes. There’s a real intimacy to watching the chicks grow – people fall in love and become invested.”

The northern royal albatross – or toroa in the Maori language te reo – is endemic to New Zealand and is under threat from climate change, fly-strike disease and heat stress. The birds have been described as “casualties on the frontline” of the war against plastic, as they mainly feed by swooping down on squid in the ocean – and often mistake brightly coloured plastic for prey.

The estimated total population of northern royal albatross is 17,000, and with intensive intervention the Taiaroa Head population has doubled since 1990. But that protected colony represents only 1% of the total population, and their small New Zealand home has become “crucial” to conservation efforts as they are the only managed and quantifiable settlement of the rare and endangered birds in the world…

Read the whole story here.

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