Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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ACAP Latest News

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.

Contact the ACAP Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

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Bill deformity in Scopoli’s Shearwater

Vittoria Roatti (Ornis Italica, Rome, Italy) and colleagues have published on bill malformation in chicks of Scopoli’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea in the open-access journal Marine Ornithology.

The paper’s abstract follows;

“We report three cases of bill malformation in Scopoli’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea on Linosa Island (Sicily, Italy) that were found during monitoring of the colony over a 13-year period.  The cases were observed in pre-fledging chicks; two of the birds were also in poorer body condition compared with chicks of the same age. No adults in the colony have been found with similar bill malformations despite a much larger sample of recorded adults.  We suggest that the observed malformations impair survival and that the chicks we encountered would likely starve after fledging.  The frequency of bill malformation found on Linosa is less than one percent, which is consistent with cases reported in the literature for other species.”


Scopoli’s Shearwater chick with bill malformation: side view (left) and top view (right), from the publication


Roatti, V., Massa, B. & Dell’Omo, G. 2019.  Bill malformation in Scopoli’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea chicks. Marine Ornithology 47: 181-184.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 August 2019

Marc Parchow's Qual Albatroz cartoons are helping raise awareness of next year's World Albatross Day

The Albatross and Petrel Agreement (ACAP) has been working towards the inauguration of a Word Albatross Day next year, to be celebrated annually on 19 June.  This is the date ACAP was signed in Canberra, Australia in 2001 (click here).  An intersessional 'WAD Group' is coming up with ideas to increase awareness of World Albatross Day between now and June 2020.  So far the group has issued a 'banner challenge' that requests field teams working with albatrosses at breeding localities  to make a suitably-worded banner advertising the 19 June 2020 event and drawing attention to the birds’ conservation crisis.  The first such banner has been displayad on Gough Island at the edge of a study colony of Critically Endangered Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena on Gough Island; more are expected to follow from other islands once the austral summer breeding season commences (click here).  A companion 'banner at sea' challenge is now being planned for observers on fishing vessels, tourist ships and seabird-watching 'pelagic' trips.

 Another on-going World Albatross Day initiative are the supporting quotes being requested from a wide swathe of people who have been involved in some way with albatross research and conservation.  These quotes, from artists, authors, managers and researchers alike, are currently appearing on this website's home page, being changed weekly.  To date, several artists approached for quotes have been supportive, also allowing their artwork to be freely used by the Agreement; plans to collaborate with more are underway.  Notably, Marc Parchow Figueiredo, a cartoonist residing in Portugal, who has previously drawn special cartoons featuring his iconic Qual Albatroz birds to mark ACAP events (click here), has now produced a three-panel series to mark World Albatross Day that expresses his special brand of humour (click here).  The three panels follow, marking the first time they can be viewed as one.



At ACAP's request Marc has willingly produced versions of his 'WAD cartoons' in his home language as below.  Although Portuguese is not an official ACAP language 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 are known to enter Portuguese waters - where they have been reported killed by purse seines and set nets (click here).  It is hoped to be able to also post the cartoon series with French and Spanish texts here, so they can be enjoyed in all three official languages of the Agreement.


The 'WAD Group' has a number of other ideas under discussion.  ACAP Latest News will continue to report on them as the first World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020 approaches.

With grateful thanks to Marc Parchow Figuiredo.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 August 2019

Flame retardants anyone? Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses ingest plastics containing hazardous chemicals

Kosuke Tanaka (Laboratory of Toxicology, Hokkaido University, Kita-ku, Sapporo  Japan) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on chemical compounds in plastic fragments ingested by Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses on Japan’s Mukojima Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The risk of marine organisms ingesting plastics has become a growing concern due to hazard chemicals in plastics. To identify compounds to which seabirds potentially have substantial exposure, 194 plastics fragments and pellets ingested by seabirds, i.e., northern fulmars from the Faroe Islands, and laysan albatross and black-footed albatross from Mukojima Island, were analyzed piece by piece. Four kinds of UV stabilizers, 2 brominated flame retardants, and styrene oligomers were detected at detection frequencies of 4.6%, 2.1%, and 2.1%, respectively. Concentrations ranging from not detected (n.d.) – 1700 μg/g were measured for UV stabilizers, n.d. – 1100 μg/g for flame retardants, and n.d. – 3200 μg/g for styrene oligomers. We found that these chemicals could be retained in plastics during drifting and fragmentation in the ocean and transported to seabirds. This type of transport via plastics can be direct pathway that introduces hazardous compounds to marine organisms.”


Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses,  photograph from the Kure Atoll Conservancy

Click here for a related paper by Kosuke Tanaka.

With thanks to Tomohiro Deguchi,


Tanaka, K., van Franeker, J.A., Deguchi, T. & Takada, H. 2019.  Piece-by-piece analysis of additives and manufacturing byproducts in plastics ingested by seabirds: implication for risk of exposure to seabirds.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 145: 36-41.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 August 2019

All tied up: information on entangled seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels, requested

Plastic pollution is a global environmental issue with 4.8-12.7 million tonnes estimated to enter the world oceans every year.  Globally, 56% of all seabird species have been documented to have been affected by anthropogenic marine debris, predominantly plastic, either through entanglement or ingestion.  Seabirds are particularly at risk of entanglement from debris.  However, monitoring entanglement of seabirds is challenging as it generally occurs out at sea.  Seabirds can also become entangled in debris at the nest, with a number of species reported incorporating debris into their nests as nesting material.

Most of the evidence of seabirds becoming entangled in debris, and incorporating it into their nests is anecdotal, with little quantitative data, meaning that we do not have a good understanding of which species, and where, are affected and what impact it might have on individuals and populations.  To obtain useful data from anecdotal instances, and improve our understanding of this issue, we have launched a website to collate images and descriptions of entanglement and nest incorporation of anthropogenic debris, by any bird species, anywhere in the world.

Procellariiform seabirds have been shown to particularly be at risk of ingesting plastic, and are known to become entangled in active fishing gear.  Although procellariiforms may be less at risk from becoming entangled in anthropogenic debris, or collecting it as nesting material (e.g. click here and here) than for example are sulids (gannets and boobies) and cormorants, all birds that are associated with marine and freshwater habitats are thought to be at risk of entanglement to some extent.

Submissions to the website on entangled albatrosses or petrels, or on any other bird species, would be much appreciated.


Plastic sheeting, possibly wind-blown fishery waste, incorporated into nests of Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris on Steeple Jason, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*, November 2018; photographs by Megan Tierney

With thanks to Megan Tierney.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Environmental Research Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands, Thurso, UK & John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 August 2019

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

Book review: “Far from Land. The Mysterious Lives of Seabirds” by Michael Brooke





Brooke, M. 2018.  Far from Land.  The Mysterious Lives of Seabirds.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.  249 pp.  Eight colour plates; 13 colour maps; numerous black & white photographs, maps and charts; black & white illustrations by Bruce Pearson.  Hard cover.  ISBN 978-0-691-17418-1.  US$ 29.95, UK£ 24.00.





Michael Brooke is the Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, UK.  His previous books on seabirds include The Manx Shearwater published in 1990 (the subject of his doctoral research on the Welsh island of Skomer where we first met way back in 1982) and Albatrosses and Petrels across the World in 2004.  So, an established seabird author, what of his latest?

Far from Land. The Mysterious Lives of Seabirds is a more reflective book than that on the Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus, published over a quarter of a century earlier.  In 10 chapters the author takes the reader on a journey through both time and space.  The book’s main theme is “the elusive seafaring lives of albatrosses, frigatebirds, cormorants and other ocean wanderers”, showing how the development of miniaturized electronic devices have opened a window to what seabirds really are up to while they are out of sight of land at sea.  The author’s up-to-date accounts of this recent burgeoning of knowledge into pelagic seabird lives are interspersed with his own journeys to study seabird around the world.  Here we soon realize that Mike Brooke is nothing but well-travelled.  Starting off in the United Kingdom with undergraduate and postgraduate research sojourns on Fair Isle and the Shiants (both on the reviewer’s bucket list) and on Skomer, he spent a summer on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion Island, engineered through the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town – where I spent most of my own seabird career.  Summer visits to the Tristan da Cunha Islands (Gough and Nightingale) and Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica followed, also in collaboration with my old institute.  Since those early days Mike has worked in South America on Chile’s Juan Fernández Islands and in Peru’s deserts searching for enigmatic storm petrels.  More recently he has worked on the outer islands of the lonely Pitcairn group, studying gadfly petrels on Henderson Island (click here).

Near Threatened Murphy's Petrel Pterodroma ultima on Henderson Island

 The attractive black and white illustrations are by artist Bruce Pearson.  The chosen colour photo and maps help illustrate the book – which comes seemingly free of typos, well bound and nicely presented with a dust jacket.

I enjoyed reading Mike Brooke’s latest book; and think anyone who studies seabirds, or just wants to know more about them, and their mysterious lives, will too.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 August 2019

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