Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Read about recent developments and findings in procellariiform science and conservation relevant to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in ACAP Latest News.

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Third World Seabird Conference: symposia details now available

The Third World Seabird Conference (WSC3) will be held over 19-23 October 2020 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.  Information is now available on confirmed conference symposia.

 Detailed information as given on the WCS3 website for two symposia and their convenors that consider seabird- fisheries interactions follows.

Fine scale seabird foraging behavior in relation to fisheries: Henri Weimerskirch & Scott Shaffer

Fisheries are operating worldwide and are attracting many seabird species that feed on offal and baits. But fisheries can induce high mortality rates to attending seabirds because of by-catch, collision or entanglement with gears. For these reasons there is an increasing interest in the study of seabird-fisheries interactions. However there is still much to understand about the factors affecting the fine scale foraging behavior in relation to the presence of boats, especially fishing vessels, and this becomes possible with the miniaturization and development of new loggers. Through a series of empirical studies we will examine the fine scale foraging behavior of seabirds in relation to the presence of vessels obtained by conventional positioning systems such as AIS, VMS and with new bio-logging systems allowing the detection of vessels. The critical questions addressed concern the detection distances, distinction between co occurrence and attendance, the differences between seabird families in the attraction and attendance patterns, the influence of local oceanic conditions on attendance patterns and how attraction to fishing vessels build up over the lifespan of seabirds.

Seabird bycatch in commercial fisheries: Progress and challenges: Rory Crawford, Stephanie Prince, Pamela Michael, Amanda Gladics & Tom Good

Seabird bycatch in fisheries remains the greatest threat to seabirds alongside Invasive Non-Native Species. Solutions are now well-established for trawl and longline fisheries and have been adopted in a number of fisheries to great effect, but broadscale implementation remains a barrier to improving the conservation status of threatened seabirds, perhaps most notably albatrosses. Given the vast at-sea ranges of many seabirds affected by fisheries, these implementation gaps – both in national waters and on the High Seas – need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. As well as shining a light on the success stories (and what has made them successful), this symposium will focus on the outstanding challenges that need to be addressed: from the fundamental basics (how to estimate bycatch levels from often low sampling effort and zero-inflated data) to the balance of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ in achieving broader uptake, to tackling bycatch in other gear types, particularly gillnets and purse seines.

Two other symposia should be of special interest to the conservation of ACAP-listed species.  These are “Outcomes and progress of active seabird restoration projects” and “The threat of marine debris to seabirds: Detangling the demonstrated from the perceived.”

See details for all the confirmed  WCS3 symposia here.

Abstract submissions close on 30 November; anticipated decision date is 16 March 2020.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 October 2019

Qual Albatroz! World Albatross Day cartoons are now available in all three ACAP languages

Marc Parchow Figueiredo, a cartoonist residing in Portugal, has previously drawn special cartoons featuring his iconic Qual Albatroz birds to mark ACAP events (click here).  At ACAP’s request he has also produced a three-panel series to mark next year’s inauguration of World Albatross Day (click here for the English version).

Versions of Marc’s ‘WAD cartoons’ are now available in French (translated by Maëlle Connan) and Spanish (translated by Verónica López) as shown below.




International Cat Day referred to in the cartoons falls on 8 August (click here).

Currently, ACAP’s work to raise awareness of World Albatross Day is undertaken on a zero budget.  Thanks then to the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa for donating a coffee-table book on the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands to send to Marc as a small token of his valued contributions to the conservation of albatrosses, which include sending signed prints of the original WAD cartoons with English text to ACAP.

March Parchow, wearing a Qual Albatroz T-shirt, holds up the Marion and Prince Edward Islands book

Marc has also produced his WAD cartoons in his home language of Portuguese.  Although not an official ACAP language - as are French and Spanish - it is the one spoken in Brazil, which has been an active Party to ACAP since December 2008.  Additionally, Portugal is a range state for the ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus, as birds on migration enter Portuguese waters - where they have been reported being killed by both purse seines and set nets (click here).

With thanks to Maëlle Connan, Marc Parchow Figueiredo and Verónica López.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 October 2019

Resource partitioning by seabirds on sub-Antarctic Marion Island

Maëlle Connan (Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) and colleagues have written open access in the journal Ecography on what isotope ratios in eggshells can tell us about resource partitioning.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“A central theme in community ecology is understanding how similar species co-exist and how their interactions may evolve in the context of climate change. Most studies of resource partitioning among central place foragers, particularly birds, focus on the offspring-rearing period, when they are accessible, but breeding success may be determined earlier and little is known about how such species partition resources at the onset of breeding. We used a non-invasive approach to evaluate resource partitioning in co-existing females at a sub-Antarctic island during their pre-laying periods. Three hypotheses were tested using carbon, nitrogen and oxygen stable isotope ratios measured in shells and membranes of hatched eggs as ecological tracers: 1) resource partitioning by geographic location and trophic level will exist among the 12 bird species and will be enhanced within taxonomic groups; 2) given the absence of strong oxygen gradients in the Southern Ocean we will not detect spatial structuring based on oxygen isotopes, but differences will exist between resident and oceanic species as the former may use meteoric water; 3) capital and income breeder strategies can be differentiated using stable isotopes of egg remains.

Two and three dimensional isotopic data showed resource partitioning among species. As predicted, segregation was evident within the four main taxonomic groups: penguins, albatrosses, burrowing petrels and giant petrels. Unexpectedly, oxygen isotopes revealed widespread use of meteoric water among a suite of sub-Antarctic birds. Stable isotopes allowed us to identify females of most species as income breeders at the onset of breeding, with the exception of the females of the two crested penguin exhibiting a mix of income and capital resources use. Multidimensional isotopic analyses revealed that resource partitioning exists at multiple stages of the annual cycle in ways likely to be important under global change, exhibiting wide potential for ecosystem analysis.”


Wandering Albatrosses on Marion Island, photograph by Marienne de Villiers


Connan, M., Dilley, B.J., Whitehead, T.O., Davies, D., McQuaid, C.D. & Ryan, P.G. 2019. 2019.  Multidimensional stable isotope analysis illuminates resource partitioning in a sub-Antarctic island bird community.  Ecography 42: 1-12.  doi: 10.1111/ecog.04560.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 October 2019

Causes of mortality of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters stranded in north-eastern Brazil

Daniela Mariani (Programa de Pós Graduação em Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil) and colleagues have published in the journal Pesquisa Veterinária Brasileira on 1347 beached seabirds in north-eastern Brazil, including three albatross species, two Procellaria petrel species and most abundantly shearwaters Ardenna and Puffinus.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The aim of this work was to determine the main species of stranded seabirds at the Northeastern coast of Brazil in addition to the most frequent causes of stranding and mortality.  The study was conducted in a monitored area for three years (2012-2014), from the coastline of south Alagoas through north coast of Bahia encompassing 254 km of coast.  The seabirds found alive during the monitoring were sent to rehabilitation, clinically examined and the carcasses were removed, necropsied and histopathologically analyzed. A total of 1347 seabirds were found stranded.  Of these, 378 were found alive and sent to rehabilitation.  From the 969 dead seabirds 806 were unsuitable for necropsy, being only 163 submitted to necropsy and histopathological analysis.  Calonectris borealis, Puffinus gravis and Puffinus puffinus were the main seabirds stranded in the studied area.  Most stranding occurred from March to June with an increase during April and May for the most species of seabirds.  The main clinical signs of stranded seabirds consisted of inappetence, apathy, low body score, hypothermia, flying or movement difficulty and prolonged recumbency.  Natural causes followed by infectious diseases and anthropogenic environmental factors were the main causes of death of seabirds stranded on the Northeastern coast of Brazil.”

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - one of the beached species


Mariani, D.B.,  Almeida, B.J.M.,  Febrônio, A.D.M.,  Vergara-Parente, J.E. & Souza, F.A.L. 2019.  Causes of mortality of seabirds stranded at the Northeastern coast of Brazil.  Pesquisa Veterinária Brasileira

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, xx October 2019

Spectacled Petrels continue to do well on Inaccessible Island

Peter Ryan (FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Marine Ornithology on the increasing breeding population of ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Spectacled Petrels Procellaria conspicillata, as well as information on population sizes of three albatross species breeding on Inaccessible Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Inaccessible Island, in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, is the sole breeding site of the Spectacled Petrel Procellaria conspicillata.  The island also supports globally important populations of four threatened seabirds, as well as populations of other seabird species.  A seabird monitoring protocol was established in 2004, following baseline surveys of most surface-breeding species in 1999.  For the species monitored, we report population trends that are based on visits in 2009 and 2018.  Populations of most monitored species appear to be stable or increasing, including three albatross species currently listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered.  However, numbers of Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi may have decreased slightly since 1999, and numbers of Antarctic Tern Sterna vittata have decreased since 1982.  The population of Spectacled Petrels is estimated to be at least 30 000 pairs and continues to increase since feral pigs Sus scrofa died out on the island in the early 20th century.  We describe a new monitoring protocol for Spectacled Petrels that will be easier to repeat and implement and that should provide a more sensitive measure of future population changes.”

A Spectacled Petrel calls on Inaccessible Island, photograph by Peter Ryan

Read an earlier ALN post on the 2018 Inaccessible survey.


Ryan, P.G., Dilley, B.J. & Ronconi, R.A. 2019. Population trends of Spectacled Petrels Procellaria conspicillata and other seabirds at Inaccessible Island.  Marine Ornithology 47: 257-265.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 October 2019

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