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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Wisdom the Laysan Albatross, and the world’s oldest known bird, is back on Midway Atoll

Wisdom, a female Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis and the world's oldest known banded wild bird, has returned to the USA’s Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the northern Pacific.  She is now considered to be at least 69 years old – but could be older as she was originally banded in 1956 as an adult.

Wisdom was first sighted on 22 November this year.  “She has been preparing her nest in her usual location in anticipation her current mate [Akeakamai] will arrive soon”.

Wisdom Nov 2019

Wisdom in November 2019, photograph by William Kennerley/USFWS

“Wisdom is important not only because she is a part of a long-term study of [the] albatross population, but also because she is an individual that we can actually know and follow her personal history” according to Elizabeth (Beth) Flint, [USFWS] Supervisory Wildlife Biologist in a video clip.  “She has seen so much, and yet she is still doing what she evolved to do: surviving and raising young every year.  That makes her incredibly powerful as a symbol of why we do what we do.”

Beth Flint has been a regular member of the USA’s observer delegation to ACAP meetings over the years and is a member of the ACAP Population and Conservation Working Group.  She recently wrote on the subject of next year’s inaugural Word Albatross Day to ACAP Latest News: “While we share similar life spans and the spatial scales of our activities, ranging over vast areas of the globe, albatrosses have lived on earth in their current form tens of millions of years longer than Homo sapiens without disrupting or degrading their own habitats”.  She was probably thinking of Wisdom.

Beth Flint

Beth Flint wears Red Z333, the colour band of Wisdom

Read more here and access the many postings about Wisdom in ACAP Latest News.

Meanwhile, Midway’s other two famous birds, Geraldine and George the atoll’s only pair of breeding Short-tailed Albatrosses P. albatrus, are already back for a new season and are incubating their new egg (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 November 2019

Short-tailed Albatross to get a new five-year status review

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is initiating a five-year status review of the globally Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus in terms of the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).  A five-year status review is based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. The USFWS is requesting submission of any new information that has become available since the last review of the species in 2014 (click here).

Georg Geraldine 2018

A Short-tailed Albatross pair - named George and Geraldine - on Midway Atoll

“In conducting these reviews, we consider the best scientific and commercial data that have become available since the listing determination or most recent status review, such as:

(1) The biology of the species, including but not limited to population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;

(2) Habitat conditions, including but not limited to amount, distribution, and suitability;

(3) Conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit the species;

(4) Threat status and trends in relation to the five listing factors (as defined in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA); and

(5) Other new information, data, or corrections, including but not limited to taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the List, and improved analytical methods.

Any new information will be considered during the 5-year review and will also be useful in evaluating the ongoing recovery programs for the species.”

Comments are due by 21 January 2020.

For additional information about ESA five-year reviews click here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 November 2019

No new MPAs in Antarctic waters this year (again) after CCAMLR meets

This year’s annual meetings of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and of its subsidiary bodies were held in Hobart, Australia from 7 October to 1 November.  CCAMLR was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life, in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources.  The Commission is a consensus-based organisation consisting of 26 Members (25 countries and the European Union).

ACAP’s Executive Secretary, Christine Bogle and Science Officer, Wiesława Misiak attended this year’s meetings, along with observers from other bodies.

Issues reported and discussed of relevance to the conservation of albatrosses and petrels included:

  • The second year in which there were no reports of illegal fishing in the Convention Area (and thus fishing that is assumed not to use bycatch mitigation measures);
  • New prohibitions of the discharge of plastics and dumping and discharging of oil or fuel products from fishing vessels in the entire Convention Area;
  • Agreement on precautionary catch limits for all toothfish Dissostichus sp. fisheries in the Convention Area; and
  • For another year no new Marine Protected Areas were established. Instead, CCAMLR reported “Research and monitoring plans for existing marine protected areas (MPAs), as well as proposals to establish three new MPAs – in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea, and the Western Antarctic Peninsula – were the subject of much discussion.  Members will continue to work intersessionally on proposals for these MPAs before they are again considered at next year’s meeting.”

See CCAMLR’s full news release on this year’s meetings here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 November 2019

An injured Southern Royal Albatross gets collected at sea for rehabilitation

A Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora unable to fly with a dislocated wing joint was rescued at sea on 15 November by Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura off the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island – as reported by the Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast Branch.

The bird was transported the same day on a 180-km journey by car (on the back seat in a seat-belted bag with all the windows open for cooling) from Kaikoura to the South Island Wildlife Hospital in Christchurch where it is undergoing rehabilitation.  The hospital writes on its Facebook page: “We are hoping we can get it back in the air very soon.  Because it had many external parasites on it indicated it had been ashore probably to nest in the Campbell Islands. They fly 1000's km to feed off the Kaikoura shelf.”  It is has been named Charles "in honour of the Royal visit" and is being hand fed with introduced New Zealand King Salmon or Chinook Oncorhynchus tshawytscha smolt.

Seen at sea with an injured wing

Safely aboard following capture in a hand net

In the rehabiliation centre

Watch a video clip on the bird's rescue and treatment.

The Southern Royal Albatross or Toroa is considered Naturally Uncommon in New Zealand; it has a global category of threat of Vulnerable.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 November 2019

The President and Chief Officers of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research share their thoughts on next year’s inaugural World Albatross Day

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is an inter-disciplinary committee of the International Science Council (ISC).  SCAR is charged with initiating, developing and coordinating high-quality international scientific research in the Antarctic region (including the Southern Ocean), and on the role of the Antarctic region in the Earth system.  ACAP Latest News recently reached out to senior members of SCAR to gain their support of next year's inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.

Steven L. Chown, SCAR President, of the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Australia has written in return: “World Albatross Day celebrates the world's most accomplished ocean-travelling birds, drawing attention to the problems they face because of us, and the solutions we must find to secure a future which, by being promising for them, will be good for us too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Sciences activities within SCAR coordinate research that is focused on:

  1. Understanding the impact of past, current and predicted environmental change on biodiversity and the consequences for adaptation and function;
  2. Determining the effects of cold, darkness, isolation and pathogens on the health and welfare of scientists and support staff in the Antarctic; and
  3. Through multidisciplinary collaborations, understanding the complexities of the Antarctic environment and predicting the consequences of change.

Life Sciences' Chief Officer is Yan Ropert-Coudert of the French Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Yan, who is  Director of Research at the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, writes in support of World Albatross Day: “As scientists working in the Southern Ocean, who hasn't been amazed by these fithful companions that follow ships for days?  Let's make sure they'll continue roaming the seas in the future/ Quel scientifique travaillant dans l'Océan Austral ne s'est pas émerveillé du vol majestueux de ces compagnons fidèles des bateaux!  Faisons en sorte qu'ils puissent continuer à sillonner les mers dans le futur.”

 

 

 

Within Life Sciences resides the SCAR Expert Group on Birds and Marine Mammals (EG-BAMM), tasked with providing expert knowledge and research leadership related to birds and mammals in the Antarctic, on sub-Antarctic islands and in the Southern Ocean.  The Expert group’s Chief Officer is Mark Hindell of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.

SCAR's Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System (SCATS) is responsible for coordinating the advice presented to Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.  Its Chief Officer Aleks Terauds, Section Head, Biodiversity Conservation at the Australian Antarctic Division (and author of Albatross: Elusive Mariners of the Southern Ocean) shares his thoughts: “Albatrosses show us what true freedom really looks like.  World Albatross Day should remind us of the work still to be done to reduce human activities that continue to threaten these extraordinary species.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACAP hopes that SCAR will stay supportive of World Abatross Day as 19 June next year approaches.

The next round of SCAR meetings will be held in Hobart, Australia in July/August next year.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 November 2019

 

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