White-faced storm petrel translocation project 2019-2021

In 2019 FOMI began translocating white-faced storm petrels / rōrō, takahikare-moana from Rekohu / Chathams to Mana Island over a three-year period. The aim is to transfer up to 50 chicks in 2019, and 100 each in 2020 and 2021. This work is made possible through funding from our major sponsor OMV New Zealand Ltd. 

Overall aim

To establish a self-sustaining population of white-faced storm petrels / rōrō, takahikare-moana on Mana Island – to help restore the cycle of nutrients from sea to land, and improve the habitat for other animals and plants.

This translocation is part of the ongoing restoration of Mana’s original ecosystem based on a plan developed by DOC in 1999.

Conservation outcomes – short to long term

  • To have translocated up to 250 WFSP chicks (one cohort of up to 50 and two cohorts of 100 each) by Feb 2021, with at least 238 fledging in healthy condition.
  • To have at least 15 pairs of WFSP breeding on Mana Island within 10 years.
  • To have a growing population of WFSP on Mana Island that exceeds 50 pairs and has demonstrable ecological benefits to other species on the island, within 30 years.

People involved

This project is managed by FOMI. The chicks are selected by wildlife biologist Cathy Mitchell and DOC staff, from the source island – Rangatira / Hokorereoro / South East Island in Rekohu / Chathams.

Representatives from Hokotehi Moriori and Ngāti Mutunga travel with the birds from Rekohu and formally hand them over to Mana Island local iwi Ngāti Toa.

Trained volunteers, led by Cathy Mitchell, feed the chicks for up to three weeks on Mana Island, until the birds fledge. 

Progress to date

Translocations of 48 and 98 chicks were successfully completed in 2019 and 2020. The final translocation of 100 chicks is planned for February 2021. 

Find out more

2019 Summary report for white-faced storm petrel translocation

2020 Summary report for white-faced storm petrel translocation 

Videos showing chicks being collected, feeding, fledging

News media

FOMI news release about first translocation in 2019

Mana Island greets the return of the white-faced storm petrel – Stuff and DomPost 16 February 2019

Seabirds make 800km journey – by boat, plane and helicopter – to predator-free oasis in New Zealand – TVNZ 12 February 2019

Sardine smoothies for Mana Island’s newest petrel chicks – RNZ National 11 February 2019

Seabirds released on Mana Island to establish breeding population – Stuff and DomPost 12 February 2019

In 2020 we posted regular updates on the progress of the chicks on the FOMI Facebook page  in February and March. 

White-faced storm petrel chick, 6-7 weeks old. Photo: Cathy Mitchell.

White-faced storm petrel ‘walking on water’ Photo: John Kyngdon.