Until a bird was captured in 1984, the Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayii), a Critically Endangered sea bird was previously thought extinct and known only from a single museum specimen collected in 1855.
It is believed that fewer than 50 pairs survive today, breeding in 52 km2 of rugged forest on the island of Gau in Lomaiviti.
The Critically Endangered Fiji Petrel
Nesting grounds for these birds have yet to be located; and as land-based threats through predation from introduced (think BioSecurity!) cats, rats and feral pigs increase, action to locate the nests and respond to such threats has become more urgent.
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is Fiji’s only domestic NGO working solely for the conservation and sustainable management of Fiji’s unique natural heritage. Recognizing the key role to be played by Fiji’s indigenous landowners, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti promotes a greater understanding and awareness of Fiji’s endemic wildlife such as the Fiji Petrel.
As such, working closely with the landowners of Gau Island and using New Zealand trained Petrel Search Dogs and acoustic attraction methods; the team is trying to locate nesting burrows with the hope of initiating a conversion to nest boxes.
33 species of ”tubenoses” (petrels, shearwaters etc) have been recorded in Fiji waters, of which four nest. Two of these: the Collared petrel (Pterodoma brevipes; Handling Birdlife Vulnerable), and the Fiji petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayii; Critically Endangered) are found on the island of Gau.
The ultimate goal of NatureFijiMareqetiViti is to establish a safe nesting colony by translocating Fiji petrel nestlings to fledge in the safety of artificial nest boxes, after which time, the juveniles will leave, but return to the safe nesting colony to establish a protected Fiji petrel colony.
In 2009 the Fiji petrel was photographed at sea for the first time by Hadoram Shirihai, but there have been 20 recorded landings of Fiji petrels – attracted at night to village lights. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti need as much information as we can collectively gather, whether on land or at sea.
This is where YOU come in.
While sailing around the islands of Fiji, particularly around Gau and the Koro Sea please keep your eyes open for any Fiji petrels and record your sighting on the Fiji Petrel Encounters Form (pdf 1.9MB)
When you reach shore, if you can detach and mail the sightings form to the address provided and NatureFijiMareqetiViti can hopefully begin painting a clearer picture of our Fiji petrels and initiate measures to bring them back from the edge of extinction.
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is the Species Guardian for the Fiji Petrel which is a priority species of BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme.
For more information, see NatureFiji-MareqetiViti and Birdlife International , or contact Dick Watling at watl…@naturefiji.org
A Guide to the Birds of Fiji
If you’d like to know more about the Sea and Shore Birds that you are in some instances likely, while in others extremely lucky to see while cruising Fiji, we highly recommend ordering a copy of the Pocket Poster Guide To the Birds of Fiji 2 Sea and Shore Birds’ from the Nature-Fiji website. With a tough laminated cover, the guide is cleverly designed and folded to be read as a pocket-sized book or opened out to an informative poster.
Every breeding bird and regular migrant (including the Fiji Petrel) is illustrated in full colour, and each bird has a paragraph of text with identification and size information.