Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Latest News

ACAP Latest News

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.

Contact the ACAP Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

Click here to subscribe to ACAP News Click here to subscribe to 'ACAP Latest News'

“A Black-footed Albatross was found entangled in discarded balloons and strings on Marina State Beach in June 2013”

Erica Donnelly-Greenan (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, California, USA) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on surveys of entangled seabirds on the coast of California.  Sooty Shearwaters Ardenna grisea made up 8%.  A few Arctic or Northern Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis were also reported, as was a Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes entangled with a balloon.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Marine fauna in the California Current System is susceptible to entanglement in anthropogenic debris.  We examined beach survey data from six California counties to describe trends of entangled marine birds and mammals (1997–2017). Surveyors reported 357 cases of entanglements among 65,604 carcasses. Monterey County had the greatest average entanglement rate (0.007) of surveyed counties, however, was not statistically different from Santa Cruz (p > 0.05). Twenty-six seabird species (97%) and three marine mammal species (3%), and three non-marine birds were affected. Numerically, Common Murre (23%), Brandt's Cormorant (13%), Western Gull (9.6%), Sooty Shearwater (8%) and Brown Pelican (7%) were the most affected due to abundance, but their entanglement rates were not statistically different (p > 0.05). The most vulnerable species were those frequently documented as entanglement despite low deposition numbers (Merganser spp. 25%). Entangling material consisted primarily of monofilament line (some hooks/lures), but other entanglement items were reported.”


Entangled Black-footed Albatross - from the publication

With thanks to Hannah Nevins.


Donnelly-Greenan, E.L., Nevins, H.M. & Harvey, J.T. 2019.  Entangled seabird and marine mammal reports from citizen science surveys from coastal California (1997–2017).  Marine Pollution Bulletin 149:

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 October 2019

At-sea mortality of Atlantic Yellow‐nosed Albatrosses is related to storms off Brazil

Davi Tavares (Department of Theoretical Ecology and Modelling, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Bremen, Germany) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Animal Conservation on at-sea mortality of three seabird species based on stranding data, including of the ACAP-listed and globally Endangered Atlantic Yellow‐nosed albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Large‐scale climatic processes such as the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can have severe effects on the survival of seabirds in their breeding regions. However, there is a fundamental lack of understanding about how environmental factors are related to the mortality of these organisms in non‐breeding areas of the tropics. We investigate here the direct and indirect effects of ENSO and oceanographic variables on the mortality of three migratory seabird species targeted by conservation programmes focused on human impacts: the Atlantic yellow‐nosed albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos, the Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus and the Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus in a non‐breeding area in Brazil, tropical Atlantic. We find that the intensification of ENSO increases the mortality of Manx shearwaters by enhancing the local storm activity. The mortality of Atlantic yellow‐nosed albatrosses and Magellanic penguins is also related to a local increase in storm activity but regardless of the ENSO signature. Increased mortality of Magellanic penguins is observed when biological productivity falls below the annual average (1.7 mg m−3). Adverse climatic conditions are highly deleterious for migratory seabirds and single storm episodes can cause massive deaths, thus exacerbating population declines. We argue that conservation and management strategies for migratory seabirds studied here should not only focus on direct human impacts but should also consider mitigating the effects of climate variability.”


Juvenile Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross washed ashore in Brazil (click here)


Tavares, D.C., Moura, J.F., Merico, A. & Siciliano, S, 2019.  Mortality of seabirds migrating across the tropical Atlantic in relation to oceanographic processes.  Animal Conservation doi:10.1111/acv.12539.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 October 2019

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


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.

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


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,

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

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 October 2019

DMC Firewall is a Joomla Security extension!