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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A Northern Giant Petrel with a fractured wing is treated in captivity before release

NGP Dunedi nWidlife Hospital 

Releasing the Northern Giant Petrel

A Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli was rescued and brought to the Wildlife Hospital, Dunedin in New Zealand by the Department of Conservation in Invercargill last month.  The bird described as “weak and underweight on arrival” had an old fracture on its left wing that had started healing “a bit skew”.  From its dark-brown plumage it is possibly a juvenile although its outstretched wing shows primary moult occurring.  Following X-rays by the hospital’s vets the wildlife hospital reported:

“The fracture to the wing is not too badly displaced and has started to heal pretty well. It is not perfectly straight although he seems to use the wing very well.  Our vet team have weighed up the pros and cons of performing surgery to straighten the bone or leave him be. Surgery of course always comes with risks because of anaesthesia.  In this case we would need to pluck feathers, re-fracture the bone and pin it to straighten it.  All of this would extend his hospital stay by months.  The team have decided that the cons of prolonged hospitalization and the risk of surgery far outweigh releasing him with a slightly crooked wing that is unlikely to have much impact on his ability to fly.  Large seabirds are also at risk of contracting aspergillosis when in a hospital situation and pododermatitis (bumblefoot/pressure sores) from being on land so long.”

Following being colour-banded, the bird was released from a sandy beach on 7 July - from where it swam out to sea.

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On the beach after release

Watch video clips of the giant petrel being fed fish and swimming in a rehabilitation pool on the Hospital’s Facebook page.

The hospital is a veterinary facility specialising exclusively in the treatment of New Zealand’s native species.

UPDATE: Following an enquiry, the hospital has confirmed that the bird was seen flying after release.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 July 2020, updated 11 July 2020

Online seminar on 14 July: DNA-based diet analysis of higher-order predators as a conservation management tool by Julie McInnes

Julie McInnes 2 

Julie McInnes (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia) will give an on-line lecture entitled "The use of DNA-based diet analysis of higher-order predators as a conservation management tool: assessing fishery interactions, food-web linkages and ecosystem changes" via Zoom on 14 July.  Julie holds an RJL Hawke Fellowship in Antarctic Science.

A description of her seminar follows:

“A key component of ecosystem monitoring programs that aim to support the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem function is sound knowledge of species composition and food web linkages. This information provides a foundation for assessing ecosystem changes and can allow causal links to be clarified (e.g. interactions between marine predators and fishery resources). Seals and seabirds are responsive and reflective of changes in the availability of lower trophic levels, which makes these predators ideal indicator species for changes in marine ecosystems. Dietary studies provide a mechanism to assess environmental and fisheries-related changes in marine systems, as well as the marine biodiversity of a region.  DNA metabarcoding of predator scats is a non-invasive tool which allows the diet of a range of predator species to be investigated simultaneously, increasing our understanding of ecosystem connectivity and food web structure.  This seminar will highlight the value of DNA diet analysis in conservation and management, including the assessment of seabird-fishery interactions in Tasmania, and provide an overview of the RJL Hawke Antarctic Fellowship.  During this fellowship we will develop a marine ecosystem monitoring framework using top predator scat DNA to assess species biodiversity in the Subantarctic.  By simultaneously studying the diet of a range of predators, we will resolve food web linkages and investigate the use of quantitative models integrating DNA sequence datasets. Through the collation of existing dietary data and new robust dietary information, we will provide a sound foundation for future monitoring programs to assess changes in species diversity and identify species that may be at risk from fishery engagement.”

Join the Zoom seminar on ID: 989 6500 4574; 13h00 Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 July 2020

Turning the Tide for the Albatross: an RSPB story map in support of World Albatross Day

Tristan Albatross pests banner Michelle risi

World Albatross Day on Gough Island with a Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross, photograph and poster design by Michelle Risi

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the United Kingdom’s BirdLife partner, created an online story map, entitled “Turning the Tide for the Albatross’, for World Albatross Day on 19 June.

The story map concentrates on the Albatross Task Force that works to reduce fishery mortality in five South American and southern African countries, and on the Gough Island Restoration Programme which aims to eradicate the introduced House Mice on the island.  The eradication is now set for next year, following an enforced delay caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

At-sea tracking of five species of albatrosses in the South Atlantic from Bird and Gough Islands is also featured.  The story map is illustrated with evocative photos and video clips along with informative maps.

With thanks to Nina da Rocha, Albatross Task Force Project Officer and Michelle Risi, Field Researcher, Gough Island Restoration Programme.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 July 2020+

And the winner of the World Albatross Day 2020 Banner Challenge is … Alex Dodds on Bird Island!

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Aleks Dodds displays her ‘WAD2020’ banner in front of Wandering Albatross chicks on Bird Island

From Argentina to Antarctica field teams have risen to ACAP’s “Banner Challenge” by making cloth banners and paper posters promoting this year’s inaugural World Albatross Day and then displaying them adjacent to albatross breeding colonies on islands, on fishing vessels at sea, and, in the face of COVID-19 restrictions in other places and ways.

Banners have been photographed on 24 albatross breeding islands.  Nearly all Parties to the Agreement that support breeding albatrosses responded with banners as did the three non-Party countries (Japan, Mexico and the USA) with breeding birds.  In addition, all five field teams of the Albatross Task Force entered the challenge, taking two banners to sea.  The Antarctic Continent was not left out, with a contribution coming from a research station.

A total of 58 images of the displayed banners and posters in an album on ACAP’s Facebook page has allowed viewers to vote for their favourite by ‘liking’.  The results are now in and the winner and the two runners up can be announced.

With 142 “like’ votes the clear winner is Alex Dodds, Zoological Field Assistant on Bird Island, South Georgia/Islas Georgias del Sur*, who ventured out to photograph herself and her banner against a snow-covered backdrop with Vulnerable Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans chicks that she is monitoring (click here).

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Emmanuel Mendoza Pérez and Ariana Duarte Canizales display GECI’s World Albatross Day banner on Guadalupe, behind a Laysan Albatross chick close to fledging

The first runner up is the banner displayed on Mexico’s Guadalupe Island where Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis. A late-arriving entry, it has nevertheless proved popular with Facebook followers, receiving 117 likes.  Well done to Emmanuel Mendoza Pérez and Ariana Duarte Canizales of the environmental NGO Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas (GECI).

Midway Atoll USFWS

Midway Atoll residents hold a large World Albatross Day banner, photograph by Lauren Pederson

Third in the competition (with 70 likes) is the work of the US Fish & Wildlife Service on Sand Island, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, photographed on World Albatross Day itself on 19 June.

WAD banner Antipodes Kath Walker Graeme Elliott shrunk 

Kath Walker (left) and Graeme Elliott behind an adult non-breeding male Antipodean Albatross - who walked into the frame

And the ACAP’s Information Officer’s personal favourite?  It's the ‘tri-ribbon’ banner long-time albatross researchers Kath Walker and Graeme Elliott displayed on New Zealand’s Antipodes Island, only to be ‘photo-bombed’ by a passing (and globally Endangered) Antipodean Albatross D. antipodensis.  Sadly, the fallout from COVID-19 forced Graeme and Kath to leave the island early but they still managed to fit birds with satellite trackers – and join the Banner Challenge.  For the record their banner came equal fifth among the 58 images

All entrants to the banner challenge will receive an electronic personalized certificate.  The winner and two runners up will in addition receive one of ACAP’s WAD2020 posters suitable for framing and a coffee-table book on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion and Prince Edward Islands, home to five species of breeding albatrosses.  Expect delays in mailings due to ACAP’s Information Officer self isolating at home due to the COVID-19 Pandemic!

The results of two other competitions held by ACAP to mark World Albatross Day, the Great Albicake Bake Off and the Colouring-in Competition, will be announced later this month.

With grateful thanks to all who helped raise awareness of the threats facing albatrosses by making and displaying their banners and posters in the field.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 July 2020

*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.

Susan Dierker makes her children’s book “Albatross of Kaua’i. The Story of Kaloakulua” free online to mark World Albatross Day

 

Last month, Susan Dierker, author and illustrator of Albatross of Kaua’i. The Story of Kaloakulua contacted ACAP Latest News, writing “In celebration of World Albatross Day, I would like to offer a PDF of my book.”  Earlier she had written “We must take responsibility for the impact we have on the natural world, including on the albatrosses of the Hawaiian islands and elsewhere.  World Albatross Day can help raise awareness of what needs to be done”.

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Not just albatrosses.  Susan Dierker with another of her children's books

Kaloakulua was the offspring of Kaluahine and Kaluakane, a pair of Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis that bred on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 2013/14.  The breeding attempt from hatching to fledging was livestreamed via a camera operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

See a list of eight children’s book about albatrosses that have been reviewed by ACAP Latest News here.  Find the free online version of Susan’s book here and also read ALN's review.

You can follow a ‘royalcam’ currently live streaming a Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi nest.

With thanks to Susan Dierker.

Reference:

Dierker, Susan 2014.  Albatross of Kaua’i. The Story of Kaloakulua.  Coloured illustrations.  Hanalei: Done by Dogs Publishing.  Unpaginated [44 pp] + DVD.  Free on line here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 July 2020

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