Hope new Chatham Island albatross colony will keep near-extinct Antipodean species alive

Conservationists are hoping a new colony of Antipodean albatross can be established on the Chatham Islands to help keep the species alive.

For the first time in seven years, a chick has been successfully reared on Pitt Island in the Chathams, which is over 700 kilometres away from the normal breeding ground of the Antipodes Islands.

For Igor Debski, principal marine science advisor at the Department of Conservation, this new chick has been years in the making.

"Birds have been attempting to breed on the Chathams for 20 years but the last chick to be successfully reared was seven years ago," he says.

That long wait comes at a crucial time for the species. Antipodean albatross are nationally critical, which means they're near extinction.

"Since 2005, we've seen about a 60 percent decline in this species," Debski says.

The birds, which are usually reared on the Antipodes Islands, are vulnerable to being caught as bycatch.

To help protect the remaining population, DoC is tracking 68 albatross to better understand where they travel, including the new young chick.

"The way of attachment that we use is taping to back feathers," Debski says. "The feathers tend to cover it."

The chick was tagged on Pitt Island at the end of December and has flown almost 13,000 kilometres around the southwest Pacific Ocean.

As it gets older, it'll fly between the Tasman Sea near Australia and across the Pacific to the coast of Chile to look for food.

Marine conservation charity Live Ocean is funding the tracking devices.

It says knowing where these albatross go could help them mitigate risks and slow the population decline.

"It leaves the safety of the Antipodes Islands and we know the biggest threat to them is longline fishing," chief executive Sally Paterson says.

A threat claiming the lives of hundreds of albatross every year and pushing the Antipodean species one step closer to extinction.