Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

In between meetings of the ACAP Working Groups and the Advisory Committee being held in Guayaquil, Ecuador this month, 10 delegates took the opportunity to visit Isla de la Plata, 41 kilometres offshore from the fishing village of Puerto López on 27 August.  This arid 1200-ha island forms part of the 46 000-ha Machalilla National Park, which includes a 14 430-ha Ramsar Wetland of International Importance (Zona Marina Parque Nacional Machalilla, Site No. 503, designated in 1990).

Isla de la Plata (it has been described as the "poor person's Galapagos") is the only locality where the Critically Endangered Waved Albatrosses Phoebastria irrorata has been recorded breeding outside the Galapagos Islands.  The limited information available suggests that no more than 10 pairs breed, but long-term data are stated to be too sketchy to assess population trends.  In 2001, three adults were seen with no evidence of breeding.

ACAP delegates on Isla de la Plata
Visible are Jorge Azocar, Luke Finley, Victoria Gobbi, Ed Abraham, Rebecca Bird and Igor Debski
Photograph by Colin Miskelly

A Waved Albatross broods its downy chick on Isla de la Plata
Photograph by Colin Miskelly

During the ACAP visit a single adult Waved Albatross was seen brooding a downy chick, confirming that breeding still takes place on Isla de la Plata.  The island is also an important breeding site for Blue-footed Sula nebouxii and Nazca S. granti Boobies, Magnificent Frigatebirds Fregata magnificens and Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus.

With thanks to Colin Miskelly for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 August 2011


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