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.

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The Hawaiian albatross island of Lehua is (nearly) rat free

The Hawaiian State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) recently announced that that the population of invasive Pacific Rats Rattus exulans on Lehua Island “remains extremely low” two years after three aerial applications of the rodenticide Diphacinone in 2017 (click here).

 

Lehua Island from the air

The 126-ha island, designated as a State Seabird Sanctuary, has supported small populations of Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses since at least 2002.  A few rat sightings from fixed cameras were made last year (click here) but no signs of rats eating eggs or chicks have been found since the last bait drop in September 2017.  However, although “no rats have been detected by camera since December 2018, or seen in traps or tracking tunnels ... the monitoring team in early-to-mid 2019 detected what appeared to be rat fecal pellets”.

DLNR field teams will continue to make regular monthly monitoring trips to Lehua and will do spot treatments if rats are detected.

Read more here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 September 2019

Four children’s book authors support next year's World Albatross Day

The first World Albatross Day is set to be celebrated on 19 June next year following support expressed by ACAP, as it aligns well with the aim of giving the Agreement greater visibility to address the conservation crisis facing albatrosses and petrels (click here).

Over the years, ACAP Latest News has reviewed half a dozen or so illustrated children’s books that have albatrosses as their central theme; all with an important conservation message.  After reaching out to them, four authors have written quotes in support of the inaugural World Albatross Day.  Their quotes follow.

Heidi Auman - Garbage Guts

“The inauguration of World Albatross Day offers me quiet hope that humanity will turn its eyes skyward to these inspiring seabirds and grant them the protections they need."

Maria Gill - Toroa’s Journey

“Whenever I unfold a three-metre wide life-size picture of an albatross schoolchildren gasp and their mouths drop open; they are utterly amazed and have a newfound respect for the albatross.  World Albatross Day is a fantastic way to bring more awareness for the conservation of these magnificent birds.”

Caren Loebel-Fried - A Perfect Day for an Albatross

“The albatross has long been my muse.  Traveller of vast distances on long, thin, glider wings, passionate dancer, exuberant vocalizer, so committed to a mate and a youngster.  I’ve been lucky to know albatrosses, but their lives are mostly hidden from us humans.  Our lack of awareness makes them even more vulnerable than they already are.  World Albatross Day, a yearly celebration of these incredible creatures, brings the albatross into our lives, and knowledge can spark the desire to protect our natural world.”

 

Darcy Pattison - Wisdom the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for over 60 Years

"I first learned about albatrosses after the Japanese tsunami when I wrote Wisdom the Midway Albatross, the story of the oldest known wild bird in the world and how she survived the tsunami.  Her survival for over sixty-five years - in spite of storms, pollution, and questionable fishing practices - continues to surprise and inspire scientists.  Wild creatures such as the Laysan Albatross mean our planet is healthy.  We will happily join with others to celebrate World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020."

With thanks to Heidi Auman, Maria Gill, Caren Loebel-Fried and Darcy Pattison.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 September 2019

Eradication of “killer” mice on World Heritage Gough Island passes the planning stage with a first sailing

Last week the Gough Island Restoration Programme got underway to rid the island of its introduced House Mice Mus musculus that attack and kill chicks of the Critically Endangered and near-endemic Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena (and of other of the island's breeding birds).  South Africa's Antarctic ship, the S.A. Agulhas II, sailed from Cape Town on its annual relief voyage to Gough Island on 2 September with a five-person advance party from the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and BirdLife South Africa's Seabird Conservation Programme aboard to start setting up for next year's planned eradication of the mice.

Tristan Albatross chick severely wounded by mice, photograph by Karen Bourgeois & Sylvain Dromzee

The team is taking out materials for erecting aviaries for protecting the island’s two species of threatened land birds during the poison bait drop and an emergency hut manufactured by South Africa, as well as needed equipment such as tents.  Listen to a dockside video clip featuring Team Leader Andrew Callender filmed by the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa project.

John Cooper, ACAP information Officer, 11 September 2019

At risk to gill nets, longlines and purse seines: tracking Pink-footed Shearwaters on migration

Jonathan Felis (U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Santa Cruz, California, USA) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Endangered Species Research on tracking ACAP-listed Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus at sea from Chile to Canada.

Pink-footed Shearwater, photograph by Peter Hodum

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The pink-footed shearwater Ardenna creatopus has a breeding range restricted to 3 central-Chilean islands and travels north in the eastern Pacific Ocean during the non-breeding period.  Despite its Vulnerable IUCN status, the locations and relative importance of core non-breeding areas and migratory pathways of the species are not well understood.  During 5 years between 2006 and 2015, we tracked the movements of 42 after-hatch-year pink-footed shearwaters in the non-breeding season using satellite tags.  Tracked shearwaters exhibited 2 post-breeding-season migration strategies: 28% of individuals traveled 1600-2500 km north from their colonies to spend the entire non-breeding season off Peru, and 72% traveled 8000-11000 km north to waters off western North America (Baja California, Mexico, to southernmost Canada).  Individuals that traveled to North America stopped in Peruvian waters on each leg of the migration, making this a migratory bottleneck.  Core non-breeding-season areas included continental shelf and slope waters off Trujillo to Lima (Peru), central Baja California (Mexico), southern to central California (USA), and central Oregon (USA) to southern Vancouver Island (Canada).  Of 12 national exclusive economic zones (EEZs) encountered north of their breeding range, birds primarily utilized the USA, Peru and Mexico, and to a lesser degree Chile, Canada, and Ecuador.  Bycatch in fisheries was recently identified as a significant at-sea threat to pink-footed shearwaters, and we found evidence of pink-footed shearwater bycatch in 6 EEZs encountered by tracked birds, although quantification of bycatch magnitude is variable and not all fisheries have been studied.”

 

Breeding- and non-breeding-season residency areas, and migratory corridors of Pink-footed Shearwaters tracked from Chile and California; from the publication

Reference:

Felis, J.J., Adams, J., Hodum, P.J., Carle, R.D. & Colodro, V. 2019.  Eastern Pacific migration strategies of pink-footed shearwaters Ardenna creatopus: implications for fisheries interactions and international conservation.  Endangered Species Research 39: 269-282.

John Cooper, ACAP information Officer, 10 September 2019

Bird Island responds to the World Albatross Day banner challenge

At its most recent Advisory Committee meeting (AC11) ACAP decided to inaugurate a World Albatross Day, to be held on 19 June each year - the date the Agreement was signed in Canberra, Australia in 2001.  ACAP will be spending the period until 19 June next year advertising the day via social media and in other ways, so that come the day interested communities around the world can start to become involved with activities, events, media releases and the like.

As part of publicizing World Albatross Day prior to its inauguration, field teams working with albatrosses at breeding localities have been requested to make a suitably-worded banner advertising the 19 June event to draw attention to the birds’ conservation crisis.  The banner would then be photographed with the field workers in a suitable setting in the general vicinity of breeding albatrosses.  Gough Island was the first locality to rise to the challenge, now followed by Bird Island farther south in the Atlantic.

 British Antarctic Survey’s Albatross Zoological Field Assistant Rosie Hall based on Bird Island has made a banner out of an old mattress cover using stencils, fabric pens and stock marker spray paint.  She writes to ACAP Latest News: “Having had a calm day yesterday [23 August] (by Bird Island’s standards! – the banner was still catching the wind even when guyed down) I’ve photographed the World Albatross Day banner I’ve made out in the vicinity of a Wanderer chick, mindful of the South Georgia [Islas Georgias del Sur]*standard five metres away from wildlife rule (unless working under a science permit).”

Bird Island’s World Albatross Day banner displayed in the snow.  A Vulnerable Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans chick is just visible in the background above 'Bird Island' on the banner; photograph by Rosie Hall

Rosie Hall, Albatross Zoological Field Assistant (right) displays her World Albatross Day Banner with Claire Fraser, Seal Zoological Field Assistant (left) outside Pete Prince House on Bird Island.  Peter Alexander Prince, PM (1948-1998) studied albatrosses on the island in several innovative ways, including pioneering the use of artificial nests that incorporated weighing balances to record meal sizes and growth

Photograph by Mark Whiffin

Later in the year the Bird Island banner will get more outings as the summer-breeding albatrosses return.  It’s expected to stand out more once the winter snow has gone!

With thanks to Rosie Hall.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 September 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.

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