15 Jun 2006

Rare seabird sighted off New Caledonia

5:17 pm on 15 June 2006

A conservation group is reporting the first sighting of a rare Pacific seabird since 1929.

The British-based organisation BirdLife International says the Beck's Petrel has been photographed in the Coral Sea, west of New Caledonia.

The bird is named after the Californian naturalist Rollo Beck and was last formally sighted north-east of Rendova Island in Solomon Islands, on the 18th May 1929.

Experts thought the Beck's Petrel may have since become extinct.

BirdLife says the Beck's Petrel should be protected and its habitats surveyed, as the organisation believes the bird may be breeding in far-flung atolls and reefs north of New Ireland and the Solomons, and in high-altitude forest on Bougainville.