Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Yellow A43: an albatross life cut short


Gonydale on Gough Island in the South Atlantic is the site of a long-term demographic study being conducted on the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena by the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK).  One of the chicks in this colony in 1999 was banded as J-14019.  In April 2004 the bird was recorded back in Gonydale as a “loafer”, meaning it was not then attending a nest with an egg or chick, and was most likely not then sexually mature. 

In February 2007 it was recorded incubating in Gonydale (quite possibly as a first-time breeder), when colour band Yellow A43 was added and it was photographed and identified by measurements and plumage as a male.  In September of that year its chick was still present at the marked nest (when the chick was banded), showing it had bred successfully up to then.


However, a report lately to hand shows that the bird was killed by the Pescalamar, a Namibian-registered longliner fishing for swordfish and shark some 1400 km north-west of Gough Island in the south-west Atlantic at 32º 45’S, 21º 31’W on 20 November 2007.


With Tristan Albatross chicks fledging mainly in the month of December there is a good chance its chick managed to survive, being fed by the female parent until it departed to sea.  At least no banded corpse was present at the nest site it was when visited the next breeding season in January 2008.


Great albatrosses of the genus Diomedea can live for half a century or more, so Yellow A43 died young at less than 10 years of age, emphasizing the parlous conservation state of the Tristan Albatross, with its chicks being killed by mice, and its juveniles and adults continuing to be caught on longlines.


Posted by John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, with information from John Patterson, Birdlife International Albatross Task Force Namibia, 24 September 2008, updated 17 October 2008