Australasian Gannet - Ta-kapu - Family - Sulidae
Gannets are closely related to the boobies and occur in southern Africa, southern Australia and New Zealand. The Northern gannet is the largest sea bird of the Atlantic with a wingspan of up to 2m. The Australasian gannet occurs in Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.
Gannets hunt fish by diving into the sea from a height of up to 30m reaching speeds up to 100km/h so can dive deeper than many other sea birds. To do this they have no external nostrils and have air bags in their face and chest which cushions the impact. Their eyes are positioned forward on their face to give them binocular vision enabling them to judge distances well.
Gannets breed in colonies and normally lay one blue egg. The chicks are black in their first year and take 5 years to reach maturity. Gannet pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals at the nest, stretching their bills and necks skywards and gently tapping bills together.
Photographs below © Chris McLennan