A starving southern royal albatross/toroa found near Napier died with a painful stomach full of plastic, including balloon fragments and an entire 500ml water bottle, the Department of Conservation says.
The young bird died soon after being found at Whirinaki Beach, despite urgent treatment at the Wildlife Base in Palmerston North.
Today, it was announced an autopsy found the bird likely starved because its stomach was filled with plastic - and the plastic would have been causing it pain.
Department of Conservation ranger Sharyn Broni says they're also finding plastic junk impacting the baby toroa chicks near Dunedin.
"This plastic has been consumed at sea by the parents and then fed to the chicks in the colony at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head and included items like branded bottle lids and infant formula scoops," she says.
"Finding plastic in seabird’s stomachs is not uncommon, and this toroa in Hawke’s Bay is evidence of the real impact it is having on New Zealand’s species."
DOC says the birds can live for around 40 years.
The toroa's body will be returned to local iwi Ngāti Tangoio.