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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Studying albatross behaviour around fishing vessels with radar

Alexandre Corbeau (Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé, Villiers en Bois, France) and colleagues have published open access in the journal PLoS ONE on using GPS loggers on globally Vulnerable Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans to detect fishing vessels via Radar.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabirds are well known to be attracted by fishing boats to forage on offal and baits. We used recently developed loggers that record accurate GPS position and detect the presence of boats through their radar emissions to examine how albatrosses use Area Restricted Search (ARS) and if so, have specific ARS behaviours, when attending boats. As much as 78.5% of locations with a radar detection (contact with boat) during a trip occurred within ARS: 36.8% of all large-scale ARS (n = 212) and 14.7% of all small-scale ARS (n = 1476) were associated with the presence of a boat. During small-scale ARS, birds spent more time and had greater sinuosity during boat-associated ARS compared with other ARS that we considered natural. For, small-scale ARS associated with boats, those performed over shelves were longer in duration, had greater sinuosity, and birds spent more time sitting on water compared with oceanic ARS associated with boats. We also found that the proportion of small-scale ARS tend to be more frequently nested in larger-scale ARS was higher for birds associated with boats and that ARS behaviour differed between oceanic (tuna fisheries) and shelf-edge (mainly Patagonian toothfish fisheries) habitats. We suggest that, in seabird species attracted by boats, a significant amount of ARS behaviours are associated with boats, and that it is important to be able to separate ARS behaviours associated to boats from natural searching behaviours. Our study suggest that studying ARS characteristics should help attribute specific behaviours associated to the presence of boats and understand associated risks between fisheries.”

Wandering Albatross at sea, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Reference:

Corbeau, A., Collet, J., Fontenille, M. & Weimerskirch, H. 2019.  How do seabirds modify their search behaviour when encountering fishing boats?  PLoS ONE 14(9): e0222615. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222615.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 October 2019

Possession and Marion: two more sub-Antarctic islands support next year’s inaugural World Albatross Day with banners

Two more sub-Antarctic islands have joined ACAP’s “World Albatross Day Banner Challenge”, both in the southern Indian Ocean.  These are France’s Possession Island in the Crozets group, and South Africa’s Marion Island, the larger of the two in the Prince Edward Islands.  Both islands are inhabited by teams from their national Antarctic programmes, TAAF and SANAP, and include marine ornithologists who are studying the islands’ breeding seabirds, including ACAP-listed and globally threatened albatrosses.

Possession and Marion join three other sub-Antarctic islands which had already made and photographed their home-made World Albatross Day banners in the field;   Bird (here) and Gough (here) Islands in the South Atlantic, and France’s Amsterdam Island (here) in the southern Indian.

On Possession the island’s ornithologist kindly organized the ‘WAD Banner’ and display.  He writes to ACAP Latest News: “I’m Florent Lacoste, CEBC-CNRS of Chizé, program 109.  I'm a VSC (Volontariat en Service civique) and I'm here to monitor different species of birds and marine mammals.  We [are] monitoring 14 species in Crozet: albatrosses (x3), petrels (x3), penguins (x4), fur seal (x2), southern elephant seal, killer whale.  We also study alimentary strategies and repartition [distribution] of these marine predators.  My field job is to put GPS, to ring, to take pictures for photo-identification (killer whale), to count penguin colonies, etc. …”.  Florent is clearly busy with this work load so ACAP is especially grateful to him and to his colleagues for contributing to the banner challenge!

 

From left: Naïs Avargues (rat eradication and ornithologist), Claire Dumont (medical doctor), Florent Lacoste (ornithologist) & Florian Audon (informatician), all of mission 56, pose with a Wandering Albatross chick on Possession Island.  East Island, part of the Crozet Group, is on the horizon

 

All the members of missions 56 & 57 outside the research station Alfred Faure on Possession Island

A thousand-odd kilometres to the west doctoral student Stefan Schoombie on Marion Island also gave up his time to make a banner with his colleagues.  Short of a suitable cloth an old black-out blind was used instead to give a different look.  Stefan shares his views on World Albatross Day:

“Albatrosses are seldom seen by most, but are all so important to our oceans, never mind being among the most majestic of birds.  World Albatross Day is a great initiative to highlight the conservation crisis that these birds are facing."  Stefan is in his third year on the island where he conducted his MSc research on population dynamics and distribution of Phoebastria albatrosses in 2013/14 (M70), and 2015/16 (M72).  Now a member of the M76 Team, his Ph.D. research is entitled “Remotely sensing motion: the use of multiple technologies to detect fine-scale behaviour of breeding seabirds in a variable environment” through the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at South Africa’s University of Cape Town.  His field research is concentrating on Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans this time.

Elena Reljic & Melissa Schulze of M72 work on Marion’s World Albatross Day Banner

 

From left: Elena Reljic, Laurie Johnson & Stefan Schoombie pose near breeding Sooty Albatrosses on the cliffs of Ship’s Cove on Marion Island

More southern island banner photographs are expected as the summer breeding seasons get underway.  Following ACAP’s outreach, promises have come from elsewhere in the Southern Ocean: Australia’s Macquarie Island, for several New Zealand sub-Antarctic island groups, from France’s Kerguelen and from researchers based in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*.  In the Northern Hemisphere it is hoped banners will be displayed on up to three of the USA’s Hawaiian Islands and on two islands belonging to Japan.  These banner displays in island breeding colonies around the world will all help raise awareness of what is intended to be an annual event: World Albatross Day on 19 June.

With thanks to Florian Lacoste and Stefan Schoombie for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 October 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.

Trouble with burrowscopes: is the Flesh-footed Shearwater population on Lord Howe Island decreasing or stable?

Nicholas Carlile (Department of Planning and Environment, Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia) and colleagues have published open access a letter in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation commenting on a previous publication in the same journal that considered population changes in globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Shearwaters Ardenna carnepeis on Australia’s Lord Howe Island.

 

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

 References:

Carlile, N., Priddel, D., Reid, T. & Fullagar, P. 2019.  Flesh-footed shearwater decline on Lord Howe: rebuttal to Lavers et al. 2019.  Global Ecology and Conservation  doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00794,

Lavers, J.L., Hutton, I. & Bond, A.C. 2019.  Changes in technology and imperfect detection of nest contents impedes [sic] reliable estimates of population trends in burrowing seabirds.  Global Ecology and Conservation doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00579.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 October 2019

Heading south: more records of Spectacled Petrels in Argentine waters

Maximiliano Manuel Hernandez (Grupo Vertebrados, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina) and colleagues have published in the Brazilian Journal of Ornithology on the at-sea distribution of the Spectacled Petrel Procellaria conspicillata.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The Spectacled Petrel Procellaria conspicillata is endemic of the Tristan da Cunha Archipelago, in the South Atlantic Ocean.  However, it is scarcely detected in waters off Argentina beyond its traditional distribution along the southwest Atlantic during the breeding season.  This study compiles distributional records of Spectacled Petrel for the target area (chiefly between 38°S to 46°S and 23°W to 57°W) obtained in situ, from non-systematic observations at sea, between 2015 and 2018 (totaling 4 trips); and by literature review.  Nineteen new sightings of the species are presented. In 46 sightings a total of 65 individuals were recorded chiefly within waters of the Argentine continental shelf (< 200 m) (46%) and oceanic adjacent waters (54%).  The bulk of the sightings (95%) were obtained during the species breeding season.  In addition, we report the southernmost record of the species in oceanic waters for the southwest Atlantic (46°10'S; 57°06'W).”

For an earlier published sighting off Argentina click here.

Spectacled Petrel at sea, photograph by Ross Wanless

Reference:

Hernandez, M.M., Copello, S., Borowicz, A. & Seco-Pon, J.P. 2019.  Distribution extension of the Spectacled Petrel (Procellaria conspicillata) off the Argentine continental shelf and oceanic adjacent waters.  Brazilian Journal of Ornithology 27(2).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 October 2019

World Albatross Day adopts an official logo

The Albatross and Petrel Agreement will be launching World Albatross Day next year on 19 June, with the theme for 2020 of “Eradicating Island Pests”.

Up until then, ACAP will concentrate on spreading the word via electronic and printed media to establish a level of awareness of the forthcoming inaugural day.  To help with this aim a logo is required.  Seabird researcher Michelle Risi, currently undertaking her second year of field work without a break on Gough Island (and a member of the Agreement’s World Albatross Day Intersessional Group), put ACAP in touch with her old school friend, Geoffry Tyler, a South African commercial artist.  Very kindly, Geoff agreed to design a ‘WAD Logo’ pro bono in his spare time.  An initial draft was circulated to ‘WAD Group’ members for comments, from which after some tweaking, the final version depicted here was produced.

The final design is based on a blue, all-water globe to emphasize that albatrosses are ocean wanderers non pareil.  It also symbolically is not “hemispherecentric” since albatrosses occur and breed in both northern and southern hemispheres which is also why no continents are shown.  The outline of a flying albatross is that used by ACAP on its own logo to provide a recognizable link to the Agreement.

ACAP’s Information Officer met up with Geoff recently in a Cape Town coffee shop to express ACAP’s grateful thanks for the logo design and present him with a coffee-table book on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands for his good work.

ACAP’s Information Officer (left) thanks Geoffry Tyler for his logo design

Geoff joins cartoonist Marc Parchow of Qual Albatroz in designing artwork for World Albatross Day awareness.

With thanks to Ken Morgan, Michelle Risi & Geoffry Tyler.

Reference:

Terauds, A., Cooper, J., Chown, S.L. & Ryan, P.G. 2010.  Marion and Prince Edward: Africa's Southern Islands.  Stellenbosch: SUN PReSS.  176 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 October 2019

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