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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Longliners kill Great Shearwaters in the western North Atlantic

Can Zhou (Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Polytechnic and State Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA) and colleagues have published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems on mortality estimates for Great Shearwaters Ardenna gravis and other seabirds caused by North Atlantic longliners.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“1. Fisheries bycatch of seabirds presents a serious management problem, and relatively little is known about this problem. In the Western North Atlantic, the issue is complicated by the relatively low effort and coverage of the observer programme and the high uncertainty in species identification.

  1. The Western North Atlantic is home to many endemic and endangered seabird populations, and the impact of fishery‐caused seabird bycatch has been of high interest, especially for those species with a low population size; however, species‐specific bycatch estimates have been difficult. From 1992 to 2016, 158 seabirds were observed caught by the US Atlantic pelagic longline fleet; among them, only 80 were identified to species, 25 were identified to family, and the rest – mainly in the older records – were unidentified.
  2. In this study, ecological traits of seabirds were used to improve bycatch estimation and provide species‐specific risk analysis to all the potentially affected seabird species in this region. Bayesian state–space modelling was used to accommodate the high level of uncertainty in the species identification process.
  3. Seabird bycatch risk was found to be highly dependent on population size. The group of large seabird species was estimated to be two times as vulnerable as the group of mid‐to‐small seabird species, scavenging and plunge‐diving feeding modes were identified as imposing high bycatch risks, and spatial and temporal distribution patterns were also good indicators of bycatch risk. Based on these ecological traits, shearwaters, gulls, gannets, and petrels were identified to potentially suffer from high bycatch in this region. These species, especially those that have not been identified historically, deserve extra attention in the observer programme, and for the implementation of conservation measures of seabirds in this region.”

Great Shearwater at sea


Zhou, C., Jiao, Y. & Browder, J. 2019.  Seabird bycatch vulnerability to pelagic longline fisheries: ecological traits matter.  Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.  DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3066.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 August 2019

Looking after a captive Black-browed Albatross

Adriana Mastrangelli (Serviços em Meio Ambiente, Vitória, Brazil) and colleagues have an in-press paper in the open-access journal Marine Ornithology on blood analysis of a beached Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We conducted an erythrocyte and leukocyte analysis for a juvenile Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris that was found beached at Maricá, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. The absence of data on this species was problematic in our unsuccessful rehabilitation. We present our findings here to assist future rehabilitations of other individuals of this species.”


Black-browed Albatrosses, photograph by Ian Strange


Mastrangelli, A., Baldassin, P., Jerdy, H. & Werneck, M.R. 2019.  Veterinary care and whole blood count of a juvenile Black- browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris beached on the coast of Brazil.  Marine Ornithology 47: 167-168.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 August 201

Global review confirms albatrosses and petrels are among the most threatened seabirds - but plastics not their biggest problem

Maria Dias (BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK) and colleagues have published in the journal Biological Conservation on threats facing the world’s 359 species of seabirds.  Albatrosses and petrels are among the most at risk, both on land (introduced rodents and domestic cats at breeding sites) and at sea (fisheries bycatch).  The study “also contradicts popular opinion, by concluding that plastic pollution is not yet a major cause of population declines of seabirds globally”, according to BirdLife’s popular account of the publication.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We present the first objective quantitative assessment of the threats to all 359 species of seabirds, identify the main challenges facing them, and outline priority actions for their conservation.  We applied the standardised Threats Classification Scheme developed for the IUCN Red List to objectively assess threats to each species and analysed the data according to global IUCN threat status, taxonomic group, and primary foraging habitat (coastal or pelagic).  The top three threats to seabirds in terms of number of species affected and average impact are: invasive alien species, affecting 165 species across all the most threatened groups; bycatch in fisheries, affecting fewer species (100) but with the greatest average impact; and climate change/severe weather, affecting 96 species.  Overfishing, hunting/trapping and disturbance were also identified as major threats to seabirds.  Reversing the top three threats alone would benefit two-thirds of all species and c. 380 million individual seabirds (c. 45% of the total global seabird population).  Most seabirds (c. 70%), especially globally threatened species, face multiple threats.  For albatrosses, petrels and penguins in particular (the three most threatened groups of seabirds), it is essential to tackle both terrestrial and marine threats to reverse declines.  As the negative effects of climate change are harder to mitigate, it is vital to compensate by addressing other major threats that often affect the same species, such as invasive alien species, bycatch and overfishing, for which proven solutions exist.”


Read a popular account of the publication here.

With thanks to Maria Dias, Marine Science Coordinator, BirdLife International


Dias, M.P., Martin, R., Pearmain, E.J., Burfield, A.J., Small, C., Phillips, R.A., Yates, O., Lascelles, B., Garcia Borboroglu, P. & Croxall, J.P. 2019.  Threats to seabirds: a global assessment.  Biological Conservation

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 August 2019

Today is International Cat Day, so what about albatrosses?

Quite a few animals, or groups of animals, mainly for conservation purposes, have a "world day", some better known than others (think elephants, rhinos, tigers and penguins to name just a few).  Today marks International Cat Day, "created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).  International Cat Day is also referred to as World Cat Day in some countries and since its inception, it has been growing worldwide".

 Albatrosses will soon be joining this fraternity, when World Albatross Day is inaugurated on 19 June next year, the date in 2001 when the Albatross and Petrel Agreement was signed in Canberra, Australia (click here).

To increase awareness of World Albatross Day, ACAP will be making regular postings to its website and to its Facebook page in the run up to its inauguration.  Some of these posts have already commenced, such as the quotes in support from distinguished albatross researchers and others that are appearing weekly on this site's home page.  A 'banner challenge' has also been issued with seabird researchers on Gough Island kicking off with their home-made banner displayed at the edge of a study colony of Critically Endangered Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena.  Meanwhile, several artists are designing logos and posters to help advertise the day.

One artist who has helped ACAP in the past is Portugal-based Marc Parchow Figueiredo with his Qual Albatroz comic strip.  At ACAP's request he has halted a recent break in drawing albatrosses to produce a new three-part cartoon series on the theme of World Albatross Day.  So, here is the first one in the series:


You will have to wait a few days to see how Marc's iconic albatrosses end their discussion on World Cat Day here in ACAP Latest News: it will be worth it!

ACAP is hugely grateful to Marc who has always allowed his Qual Albatroz cartoons to be used pro bono by ACAP in the cause of albatross conservation.  His continued interest and support are even more remarkable as he has informed ACAP's Information Albatross that he has yet to see a live albatross!

Click here for more Qual Albatroz cartoons posted by ACAP.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 August 2019

Plastic ingestion affects blood chemistry and size of Flesh-footed Shearwaters

Jennifer Lavers (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, Australia) and colleagues have published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on the sublethal effects of ingested plastic in the ACAP-candidate species and globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Pollution of the environment with plastic debris is a significant and rapidly expanding threat to biodiversity due to its abundance, durability, and persistence. Current knowledge of the negative effects of debris on wildlife is largely based on consequences that are readily observed, such as entanglement or starvation. Many interactions with debris, however, result in less visible and poorly documented sublethal effects, and as a consequence, the true impact of plastic is underestimated. We investigated the sublethal effects of ingested plastic in Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using blood chemistry parameters as a measure of bird health. The presence of plastic had a significant negative effect on bird morphometrics and blood calcium levels and a positive relationship with the concentration of uric acid, cholesterol, and amylase. That we found blood chemistry parameters being related to plastic pollution is one of the few examples to date of the sublethal effects of marine debris and highlights that superficially healthy individuals may still experience the negative consequences of ingesting plastic debris. Moving beyond crude measures, such as reduced body mass, to physiological parameters will provide much needed insight into the nuanced and less visible effects of plastic.”


Flesh-footed Shearwaters on Lord Howe Island, photograph by Ian Hutton

Read a press release and a popular article on the pubication.



Lavers, J.L., Hutton, I. & Bond, A.L. 2019.  Clinical pathology of plastic ingestion in marine birds and relationships with blood chemistry.  Environmental Science & Technology

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 August 2019

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