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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Trace metals in Scopoli's Shearwaters from Greece

Marios-Dimitrios Voulgaris (Centre for Marine and Environmental Research, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the journal Science of the Total Environment on trace metal levels in the blood of Scopoli's Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“In this study, the concentrations of cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), chromium(Cr), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) were investigated in the blood of Scopoli's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea).  Blood samples (N=238) were collected from both juvenile and adult individuals during seven breeding seasons between 2007 and 2014, excluding 2013.  Sampling was performed in the pristine environment of the Strofades island complex, Greece, where the largest colony of Scopoli's shearwaters is located in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.  The median concentrations of the toxic metals, Cd and Pb, were 0.010 and 0.24 μg/g (dry weight; dw), respectively, which were in good agreement with previous studies.  The median concentrations of Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Zn were 0.18, 1.11, 3.41, 0.29, 0.61, and 22.9 μg/g dw, respectively.  Inter-annual differences were observed among the concentrations of all assessed metals, except for Ni and Cd, which demonstrated similarities among female individuals.  Age-group related differences were observed in both genders for Cd, Cu and Cr, but only among males for Zn.  To the best of our knowledge, this is the longest multi-year biomonitoring study of select trace metals that has been conducted thus far on blood samples from Scopoli's shearwater species.”

Scopoli's Shearwater and chick, Strofades Islands, Greece; photograph from Georgios Karris

With thanks to Georgios Karris.


Voulgaris, M.-D., Karris, K., Xirouchakis, S, Zaragoza Pedro, P., Asimakopoulos, A.G., Grivas, K. & Bebinno, M.J. 2019.  Trace metal blood concentrations in Scopoli's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) during 2007–2014: A systematic analysis of the largest species colony in Greece.  Science of the Total Environment 691: 187-194.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 August 2019

Flesh-footed Shearwaters also ingest plastic particles below one millimetre in size

Jennifer Lavers (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on detecting ultrafine plastics ingested by globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Shearwaters Ardenna carneipes.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Plastic debris is a major global threat to marine ecosystems and species.  However, our knowledge of this issue may be incomplete due to a lack of a standardized method for quantifying ingested ultrafine particles (1 μm – 1 mm) in wildlife. This study provides the first quantification of ultrafine plastic in seabirds using chemical and biological digestion treatments to extract plastic items from seabird gizzards. The alkaline agent, potassium hydroxide, outperformed the enzyme corolase, based on cost and efficiency (e.g., digestion time). Ultrafine plastics were observed in 7.0% of Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) gizzards collected from Lord Howe Island, Australia and accounted for 3.6% of all plastic items recovered (13 out of 359 items). Existing methods for extracting ingested plastic from seabirds do not account for ultrafine particles, therefore our results indicate current seabird plastic loads, and the associated physical and biological impacts, are underestimated.”

Flesh-footed Shearwater, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Read a popular account of the publication here.


Lavers, J.L., Stivaktakis, G., Hutton, I. & Bond, A.L. 2019.  Detection of ultrafine plastics ingested by seabirds using tissue digestion.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 142: 470-474.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 August 2019

¿Habla español? ACAP’s Executive Secretary makes a liaison visit to Peru, Ecuador and Chile

ACAP Executive Secretary Christine Bogle is fluent in the Agreement’s three official languages of English, French and Spanish.  Given that six of the 13 ACAP Parties are Spanish-speaking this facility greatly aids communication between the ACAP’s Secretariat in Australia and ACAP National Contact Points and Advisory Committee Members (as well as others) in South America, where five of the six Parties have Spanish as a home language (the sixth, Brazil, speaks Portuguese).

Following the Eleventh Meeting of the ACAP Advisory Committee (AC11), hosted by Brazil this May, Christine Bogle travelled on to make liaison visits to Peru, Ecuador and Chile, before returning to the Secretariat’s offices in Hobart.  Extracts adapted from her report follow.

I visited Lima (Peru), Guayaquil (Ecuador) and Valparaíso (Chile); in each country my programme was organised by the representative to ACAP’s Advisory Committee and involved meetings with a range of government agencies involved in work related to ACAP objectives.  In Ecuador and Chile NGO representatives were also present at meetings.  The visits enabled me to outline ACAP’s work, priorities and systems as well as to discuss each country’s priorities for their ACAP-related commitments.  I also learned about the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies, and their priorities for their ongoing relationship with ACAP, as well as cooperation amongst the different agencies and with their neighbouring countries.  A positive outcome was that the inter-agency discussions foreshadowed ongoing enhanced cooperation between the different institutions in each country.

In each country a presentation was made in Spanish about ACAP’s history, structure and priorities, as well as a brief outline of the key outcomes from the recent AC11 and working group meetings.  Presentations were then made by the other participants describing their work and priorities, followed by discussions as briefly summarized below.


Key outcomes from discussions organised by Peru’s Advisory Committee Member Elisa Goya were an agreement to set up an inter-departmental task force to implement the binational (Peru/Ecuador) Plan of Action for the Critically Endangered Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata (subsequently its first meeting has taken place) and a decision to produce a National Plan of Action – Seabirds for the country.

Lunch at the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Left from front: José Romero (General Director, Control and Supervision, Ministry of Production, PRODUCE); Ambassador Roberto Seminario (Head, General Bureau of Sovereignty, Borders and Antarctic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Elisa Goya (Peruvian Marine Research Institute, IMARPE); Vanessa Bachmann (IMARPE); Sara Dueñas (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Right from front:  Andrés Garrido (Director, Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Christine Bogle (ACAP Executive Secretary); Percy Gallegos (Ministry of Production); Doris Rodríguez (National Forest and Wildlife Service, SERFOR); Frida Rodríguez (Environmental Ministry)

Visit to the Ministry:  Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary shakes hands with Ambassador Jose Antonio Pomareda, Peruvian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Vice Minister reaffirmed the commitment of Peru to continue working on the protection of coastal marine areas within the framework of ACAP


Meetings in Ecuador, arranged by ACAP Advisory Committee Member Caroline Icaza, revealed a group of enthusiastic and hard- working officials who had a number of projects in mind, including some falling within the Waved Albatross Plan of Action.  It was suggested that key priorities could be set with ACAP’s aid.  Ecuador’s offer to host AC12 next year was also discussed.

ACAP's Executive Secretary meets with officials in Ecuador

Standing from left:  Julia Cordero, Dirección Provincial de Ambiente de Manabí; Christian Sevilla, Especialista en Conservacion y Restauracion de Ecosistemas Insulares, Parque Nacional Galapagos; Vicente Zaval, Subsecretario de Gestión Marina y Costera; Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary; Verónica Córdova, Directora de Normativas y Proyectos Marinos y Costeros; Patricia Rosero, Especialista en Gestión Marina y Costera; Rubén Alemán, Veterinario del Parque Nacional Machalilla

Kneeling from left:  Yolanda Bazurto, Especialista en áreas protegidas del Área Nacional de Recreación Playas de Villamil; Xavier Santillán, Especialista en Normativas y Proyectos de la Subsecretaría de Gestión Marina y Costera


Chile’s host was ACAP Advisory Committee Member, Marcelo Garcia.  Chile reported on its cooperation with New Zealand over the globally Endangered Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis and its recent decision to place cameras on both its industrial and artisanal fishing vessels.

In front of a Wandering Albatross banner outside the Subsecretaría de Pesca (SUBPESCA) Offices in Valparaíso, Chile

Back row from left:  Alan Gomez, Profesional pesquerías Demersales, Subsecretaria de Pesca; Luis Adasme, Profesional del Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, IFOP); Luis Cocas M., Profesional Descarte y Programa de Cámaras a bordo de la Subsecretaria de Pesca; Jorge Guerra M., Profesional asuntos mamíferos marinos de la Subsecretaria de Pesca; Verónica López, Oikonos

Front row from left:  Javier Rivera, Jefe, Departamento de Pesquerías Subsecretaria de Pesca y Acuicultura; Marcelo Garcia Alvarado, Chile's ACAP Advisory Committee Member, Subsecretaría de Pesca; Nancy Cespedes, Jefa Departamento de Recursos Naturales Ministerio de relaciones Exteriores; Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary; Sandra Diaz, Planes de Recuperación conservación y gestión de especies amenazadas, Ministerio del Medio Ambiente; Mauricio Ulloa, Encargado de Rescate de Fauna marina del Servicio Nacional de Pesca y Acuicultura; Katherine Bernal, Asuntos internacionales, Subsecretaria de Pesca y Acuicultura; Karin Mundnich, ACAP National Contact for Chile, Unidad de Asuntos Internacionales, Subsecretaria de Pesca

With thanks to Marcelo Garcia Alvarado and Caroline Icaza Galarza.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 August 2019, updated 03 & 05 August 2019

The Galapagos and Juan Fernández Islands get greatly increased Marine Protected Areas

The Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment announced in June that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved an extension of the Galapagos Biosphere Reserve (formerly the Archipiélago de Colón (Galápagos)) from the 772 000 ha designated in 1984 to 14 659 887 ha.  This decision makes the biosphere reserve one of the largest marine protected areas in the world.  The Galapagos Islands support nearly the whole breeding population of the Critically Endangered Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata, an Ecuadorian breeding endemic.

Waved Albatross, photograph by Megan Tierney

“According to Galapagos National Park ranger Danny Rueda, this will allow the Ministry of Environment to foster mechanisms to preserve the ecosystem and biological diversity, strengthen sustainable economic and human development of the local population, and provide logistical support for related educational and environmental research projects.  The next steps following this designation will be the creation of a management plan and committee for the Biosphere Reserve, which will provide guidance to the authorities of the local communities” (click here).

UNESCO has also approved the renaming and expansion of Chile’s Parque Nacional Archipiélago de Juan Fernández, first declared in 1977 and now known as the Archipiélago Juan Fernández Biosphere Reserve.  It includes the whole archipelago with the islands of Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk and Santa Clara and all the islets in the area.

“Located 670 km from the coast of mainland Chile, the archipelago is home to one third of Chile’s endemic birds with an almost equal level of marine resource endemism of close to 25%.  With a population of 926 inhabitants, the Biosphere Reserve’s development is focused on sustainable tourism.  Its total surface area is greatly increased from 9967 ha to 1 219 558 hectares, including 1 209 182 ha of marine areas” (click here).  The Juan Fernández Archipelago is breeding home to the ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus, endemic to Chile.

Pink-footed Shearwater, photograph by Peter Hodum

“Composed of 686 biosphere reserves in 122 countries, including 20 transboundary sites, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) of the MAB [Man and the Biosphere] Programme consists of a dynamic and interactive network of sites of excellence.  It works to foster the harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development through participatory dialogue, knowledge sharing, poverty reduction, human well-being improvements, respect for cultural values and by improving society’s ability to cope with climate change.”

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 August 2019

Where to this year? Young Cory's Shearwaters change migration patterns as they mature

Letizia Campioni (Marine and Environmental Sciences Center, Instituto Universitário, Lisbon, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the Journal of Animal Ecology on tracking immature Cory's Shearwaters Calonectris borealis at sea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

  1. “The processes that drive the ontogeny of migratory strategies in long‐lived animals with slow maturation remain enigmatic. While some short‐lived migrants are known or believed to repeat the same migratory patterns throughout their lives, little is known on the time required for immature long‐lived migrants to progressively acquire adult‐like migratory behaviours, or which aspects take longer to refine during the maturation process.
  2. Here, we studied the ontogeny of long‐distance migratory strategies and related patterns of spatial distribution in a long‐lived seabird species during the annual cycle. To do so, we deployed light‐level geolocators on 4‐ to 9‐year‐old immature Cory's shearwaters (Calonectris borealis) and on breeding adults.
  3. We revealed that migratory timings and destinations of young shearwaters progressively changed with age. The effect of ageing was remarkably evident on spring migratory performance and phenology. Birds gradually shortened the duration of the non‐breeding period by advancing departure date and reducing travelling time, which resulted in a sequential arrival at the colony of the various age contingents. Ageing immatures gradually changed from a more exploratory strategy to a more conservative way of exploiting resources, reducing both their year‐round spatial spread across oceanic domains and the total distance travelled. Immatures always performed a trans‐equatorial migration to the Southern Hemisphere, contrasting with 17% of the adults which remained in the North Atlantic year‐ Finally, during the breeding season immatures were widely dispersed through the North Atlantic reducing their overlap with breeding adults.
  4. Our long‐term study provides empirical support to the hypothesis that in long‐lived species, the refinement of migratory behaviour and year‐round spatial distribution is a progressive process mediated by age and experience, where life stage constraints and competition for resources may also play a role. The emerging pattern suggests that for some avian taxa, the ontogeny of migratory strategy is a prolonged, complex and dynamic process.”


With thanks to Letizia Campioni.


Campioni, L., Dias, M.P., Granadeiro, J.P. & Catry, P. 2019.  An ontogenetic perspective on migratory strategy of a long‐lived pelagic seabird: timings and destinations change progressively during maturation.  Journal of Animal Ecology

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 July 2019

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