From Macquarie Island, we spent a little more than a day and a half going northwest to Campbell Island. Sheep and
feral cats have been removed from this island. Just a few years ago the government of New Zealand killed all the
rats on this island. This was the biggest project of rat elimination ever done, and the impact on the island has been
very positive with native plants coming back dramatically.
A 2.5 kilometer boardwalk rising 250 meters takes one to the center of the island. As we neared the end of the board
walk, we encountered a female seal (light brown) and a male seal who had made this climb to the center of the
island. The female was about to have her pup. A few days after delivery, she would be ready for sex, so the male
seal guarded her from any competitors. Our leader Aaron tried to drive the male off the board walk for about five
minutes to no avail causing us to take a detour into the brush at this point..
The hills on the island were covered with white dots which were southern royal albatross. Jackie and I spent the
whole day roaming the hills and cliffs watching these magnificent creatures. These albatross mate for life. These
albatross can only take off into a strong wind of ten miles or more. They rarely flap their wings, and their heart beat
sitting is almost the same as when flying. Their wing span is over nine feet. At about age one, an albatross will learn
to fly. On its first flight it goes to sea and does not return for four or five years. On its return it seeks a mate, and
this was the activity going on during our visit.
The albatross put on displays as part
of the courting ritual.
On our visit to Campbell Island, there were a lot of southern royal albatross flying all over the island. These flights
were for show and were part of the courting activity. After a lot of flying, the albatross would land close to the
albatross it was trying to court.
Toward the end of the day, we followed two albatross as they awkwardly walked up the hill to the cliff where the winds
roared in from the west. As the albatross neared the top, it began to run and then jumped into the wind and off it went.
Below is a sequence of one of the albatross taking off into the wind.