Thursday, 28 January 2010, 11:12 am Press Release: Department of Conservation
A photograph taken of a baby tuatara on Wellington Harbour’s Matiu/Somes Island this month has confirmed for the first time that the rare reptiles are hatching on the island.
The juvenile, just a few months old and about 8cm long, was spotted by Harriot (8) and Nicholas Lane (10) and their cousin Harrison Vernon (11) while they were walking around the island with their grandparents Bob and Suzanne Vernon.
Tuatara were transferred to Matiu/Somes in 1998 and since then adult tuatara are regularly seen on the island. It has long been suspected that they are breeding, and this was finally proven when eggs were found on the island in 2007 and hatched at Victoria University.
But this is the first confirmation that young tuatara have hatched on the island itself.
New Zealand’s top predator makes spectacular return to the capital
Conservation staff at the groundbreaking ZEALANDIA eco-sanctuary in Wellington believe they have found the first New Zealand falcons to have hatched in the city since the species disappeared as a breeding population in the Seventies.
“It’s an extremely significant discovery,” said ZEALANDIA conservation manager Raewyn Empson
“Although there are quite a few breeding pairs in the Hutt Vally and Eastbourne, they haven’t bred in Wellington city for decades! And they are hanging around right next to the main track, so it really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these powerful predators up close and in their element”
This time last year, ZEALANDIA staff found the capital’s first ever recorded nest, very close to where this year’s fledgings are hanging out. Unfortunately, the nest had been abandoned before any eggs were laid. A second nest, this time with eggs in it, was found in July – incredibly early for falcons – but that also failed.