White-capped Albatross

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white-capped-albatrossIn New Zealand, my wife and I hired a private water taxi to pick us up from the small Ulva Island to return us to Stewart Island. The cost of the private trip was about 10 NZD more than the group rate but it allowed us to maximize our time on Ulva and still catch the fairy from Stewart back to the main South Island. When you have traveled to the far reaches of the world it seems smart to maximize your time, and like most of the places we visited on our trip I would have preferred more time… But then you do what you can with what time you have.

As an added bonus our rather knowledgeable and talkative captain, a rough looking salty sea dog Kiwi with long disheveled hair, cut the engine just off the coast of Ulva. He spotted a few Albatross flying around in the distance and explained that they were cleaver birds. He splashed water at the back of the boat to imitate pulling a fish out of the water or perhaps chumming the water… not really sure which. He repeated the action a few times over the course of a few minutes and sure enough two of the Albatross came in for a closer look, circling the boat at eye level about 10′ away.

albatross-landing
A white-capped Albatross comes in for a water landing.

The curious Albatross then splashed down behind the boat. Apparently the birds are very used to the local fisherman throwing the fish guts into the water that they now stalk all the boats in the area looking for an easy meal.

Albatross are big, beautiful birds that have been known to have more than an 8′ wingspan. The one pictured here followed us behind the boat as we drifted for a few minutes. Once he realized that he had been tricked and there was no easy meal to be had, he returned to the sky and we continued on our way.

 

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