SHAG HABI­TAT

Marlborough Midweek - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE -

The Marlborough Sounds is home to one of the world’s rarest seabirds, but if a pro­posal to re­lo­cate salmon farms in the re­gion goes ahead their fu­ture could be grim, an or­nithol­o­gist says. The king shag is con­fined to the Sounds, and de­spite sur­vey meth­ods chang­ing over time its pop­u­la­tion ap­pears to have re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble since it was first counted in the 1770s. How­ever, lo­cal or­nithol­o­gist Rob Schuckard is wor­ried the king shag, with a pop­u­la­tion of about 900, could end up be­ing ‘‘scooped out of the wa­ter’’ if the Govern­ment’s salmon plans go ahead. A dan­ger­ous species of al­gae which could de­stroy the wa­ter-proof coat­ing of their feath­ers had al­ready been spot­ted in the Sounds, and could spread, Schuckard said. Mis­er­able win­ter The fi­nal ship in the cruise calendar could mark the start of a win­ter more mis­er­able than usual, con­cerned busi­ness own­ers in Pic­ton say. The Marlborough port town is brac­ing it­self for the re­moval of in­ter­na­tional cruise tourists while it con­tin­ues to feel the fall­out of the State High­way 1 re­di­rect­ion. The Ra­di­ance of the Seas and its 2500 pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark in Pic­ton for the fi­nal stop in the 2016/17 sea­son on Fri­day. The cloth­ing bou­tique used to re­ceive many shop­pers from Kaik­oura and Christchurch but did not any­more, Briggs said. ‘‘It is ab­so­lutely less busy. You have to ex­pect that it could be a quiet win­ter with the road be­ing closed,’’ she said.

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