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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Flutter over the Tasman: a New Zealand endemic shearwater reaches Australian waters in winter

Martin Berg (Centre for Animal Movement Research, Lund University, Sweden) and colleagues have published open access in the online journal PLoS ONE on at-sea movements of tracked Fluttering Shearwaters Puffnius gavia (Least Concern although declining), a species endemic to New Zealand.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We present the first study to examine the year-round distribution, activity patterns, and habitat use of one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds, the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia).  Seven adults from Burgess Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, and one individual from Long Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, were successfully tracked with combined light-saltwater immersion loggers for one to three years.  Our tracking data confirms that fluttering shearwaters employ different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight individuals, for at least one of the three years when they were being tracked, crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over coastal waters along eastern Tasmania and southeastern Australia.  Resident birds stayed confined to waters of northern and central New Zealand year-round.  Although birds frequently foraged over pelagic shelf waters, the majority of tracking locations were found over shallow waters close to the coast.  All birds foraged predominantly in daylight and frequently visited the colony at night throughout the year.  We found no significant inter-seasonal differences in the activity patterns, or between migratory and resident individuals.  Although further studies of inter-colony variation in different age groups will be necessary, this study presents novel insights into year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of the fluttering shearwater, which provide valuable baseline information for conservation as well as for further ecological studies.”

 

Fluttering Shearwater at sea, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Reference:

Berg, M., Linnebjerg, J.F., Taylor, G., Ismar-Rebitz, S.M.H., Bell, M., Gaskin, C.P., Åkesson, S. & Rayner, M.J. 2019.  Year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of a poorly studied pelagic seabird, the fluttering shearwater Puffinus gavia.  PLoS ONE 14(8): e0219986. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219986.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 August 2019

Honouring past marine ornithologists on World Albatross Day on 19 June: a call for names

Each year World Albatross Day intends to honour those involved with research and conservation of procellariform seabirds who have sadly passed away in the previous 12 months.

For the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June next year the memorial roll will list all those who have worked with albatrosses and petrels and who have died in the last three decades since the first discussions were held in 1991 at a meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species that eventually led to the Agreement being signed in 2001 on 19 June in Canberra, Australia.

A certainly incomplete list includes seabird researchers Peter Prince (d. 1998), Gerry Clark (d. 1999), Luis Monteiro (d. 1999), Ronald Lockley (d. 2000), Alec Zino (d. 2004), Irynej Skira (d. 2005), Larry Spear (d. 2006), Karl Kenyon (d. 2007), Jim Enticott (d. 2008), John Warham (d. 2010), Mike Imber (d. 2011), Lance Tickell (d. 2014), Norbert Klages (d. 2017), Chandler Robbins (d. 2017) and Joe Sultana (d. 2018).

A commercial fisher renowned for supporting seabird bycatch research in Brazil, Celso Rocha de Oliveira, who passed away this year should also be added to the memorial roll, as should Hamish Saunders who was swept off Australia’s Pedra Branca in a storm and drowned in 2003 while helping monitor Near Threatened Shy Albatrosses Thalassarche cauta.  A Trust has been established in his name.

Research Assistant Hamish Saunders at the camping site on Pedra Branca before the storm hit from which he drowned

ACAP’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will be pleased to hear of others to add to the above list, along with a few details of their work and passing; with links to obituaries if such exist.  It has been a privilege to have known many of those listed here, co-authoring scientific papers with several of them.  Vale all.

With thanks to Rosemary Gales and Pete McClelland.

Reference:

Cooper, J., Baker, G.B., Double, M.C., Gales, R., Papworth, W,, Tasker, M.L. & Waugh, S.M. 2006.  The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels: rationale, history, progress and the way forward.  Marine Ornithology 34: 1-5. http://www.marineornithology.org/content/get.cgi?rn=676.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 August 2019

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

Reference:

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,

Reference:

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

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