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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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First rodenticide drop completed on Amsterdam Island to eradicate alien rats and mice

Erdaication 8 loading bait Lucie Pichot
Loading the bait bucket on Amsterdam Island

At the end of May this year ACAP Latest News reported on preparations for the eradication of the introduced Norway Rats Rattus norvegicus and House Mice Mus musculus on France’s Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean by the aerial dispersal of rodenticide.  The project RECI (Restauration des écosystèmes insulaires de l’océan Indien; Restoration of Insular Ecosystems of the Indian Ocean) now reports that the first aerial bait drop of rodenticide-laced cereal bait pellets by helicopter has been completed: “air dispersing of bait began on June 7 and ended on June 25. Air spreading is the only effective method, adapted to the Amsterdam context, and tested for more than 30 years as part of the operation to eradicate rodents in the world.  In particular, this allows to treat areas that are difficult to access on the island (such as the cliffs of Entrecasteaux).  A second application is planned to guarantee access to bait for all rodents and potential young rodents not weaned on the first application. Weather permitting, it will start in the next few days!”

Eradication Amsterdam 9 Lucie Pichot
A close-up of the suspended bait bucket at a field loading station

In addition, rodenticide bait was spread by hand around the Martin-de-Viviès station, with baiting of interiors, ceiling and areas below buildings and field huts.  Monitoring the availability of bait took place in previously established quadrats distributed over the island.

Eradication Lucie Pichot 12
A helicopter flies the bait bucket over the interior of Amsterdam Island

Information from the Facebook page of Terres australes et antarctiques françaises (TAAF).  Photographs by Lucie Pichot, TAAF.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 16 July 2024

Study reveals impact of competition on foraging habitat preferences between Sooty and Light-mantled Albatrosses

Stefan Schoombie Sooty flight shinyAn Endangered Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca in flight. Photograph by Stefan Schoombie

Lily K. Bentley (Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK) and colleagues have published open access in the Journal of Biogeography on how competition influences habitat preferences and niche segregation among Endangered Sooty Albatrosses and Near Threatened Light-mantled albatrosses, examining their foraging behaviour when living together and separately.

The paper’s abstract follows, 


Competition is often proposed to drive niche segregation along multiple axes in speciose communities. Understanding spatial partitioning of foraging areas is particularly important in species that are constrained to a central place. We present a natural experiment examining variation in habitat preferences of congeneric Southern Ocean predators in sympatry and allopatry. Our aim was to ascertain consistency of habitat preferences within species, and to test whether preferences changed in the presence of the congener.


Southern Hemisphere.


Multiple colonies of both species within the genus Phoebetria (sooty albatrosses).


The two Phoebetria albatrosses breed on islands located from ~37–55°S – sooty albatrosses (P. fusca) in the north and light-mantled albatrosses (P. palpebrata) in the south – with sympatric overlap at locations ~46–49°S. We analysed GPS and PTT tracks from 87 individuals and multiple remotely sensed environmental variables using GAMs, to determine and compare the key factors influencing habitat preference for each species at each breeding colony.


While foraging habitat preferences are consistent in light-mantled albatrosses, there is divergence of preferences in sooty albatrosses depending on whether they are in sympatry with their congener or in allopatry.

Main Conclusions

This study represents the most comprehensive work on this genus to date and highlights how habitat preferences and behavioural plasticity may influence species distributions under different competitive conditions.”


Bentley, L. K., Phillips, R. A., Carpenter-Kling, T., Crawford, R. J. M., Cuthbert, R. J., Delord, K., Dilley, B. J., Makhado, A. B., Miller, P. I., Oppel, S., Pistorius, P. A., Ryan, P. G., Schoombie, S., Weimerskirch, H., & Manica, A. (2024). Habitat preferences of Phoebetria albatrosses in sympatry and allopatry. Journal of Biogeography, 00, 1–13.

15 July 2024

Improved foraging opportunities? A North Atlantic petrel associates with cyclones

From the publication

Francesco Ventura (Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA) and colleagues have published in the journal Current Biology on the Vulnerable Desertas Petrel Pterodroma deserta moving towards tropical cyclones during foraging trips.

The paper’s summary follows:

“In late summer and autumn, the passage of intense tropical cyclones can profoundly perturb oceanic and coastal ecosystems. Direct negative effects on individuals and marine communities can be dramatic, especially in the coastal zone, but cyclones can also enhance pelagic primary and secondary production. However, cyclone impacts on open ocean marine life remain poorly understood. Here, we investigate their effects on the foraging movements of a wide-ranging higher predator, the Desertas petrel (Pterodroma deserta), in the mid-latitude North Atlantic during hurricane season. Contrary to previously studied pelagic seabirds in tropical and mid-latitude regions, Desertas petrels did not avoid cyclones by altering course, nor did they seek calmer conditions within the cyclone eye. Approximately one-third of petrels tracked from their breeding colony interacted with approaching cyclones. Upon encountering strong winds, the birds reduced ground speed, likely by spending less time in flight. A quarter of birds followed cyclone wakes for days and over thousands of kilometers, a behavior documented here for the first time. Within these wakes, tailwind support was higher than along alternative routes. Furthermore, at the mesoscale (hours–weeks and hundreds of kilometers), sea surface temperature dropped and surface chlorophyll sharply increased, suggesting direct effects on ocean stratification, primary production, and therefore presumably prey abundance and accessibility for surface-feeding petrels. We therefore hypothesize that cyclone wakes provide both predictably favorable wind conditions and foraging opportunities. As such, cyclones may have positive net effects on the demography of many mid-latitude pelagic seabirds and, likely, other marine top-predators.”


Ventura, F., Sander, N., Catry, P., Wakefield, E., De Pascalis, F., Richardson, P.L, Granadeiro, J.P., Silva, M.C. & Ummenhofer, C.C. 2024.  Oceanic seabirds chase tropical cyclones.  Current Biology

12 July 2024

World Albatross Day celebrations around the world: Japan holds a three-week-long event

Japan WADSW 2024 07 07 Hiroshi Hasegawa
Organizers and contributing artists gather i
n the Nature Centre of the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park on 07 July, the last day of a three-week exhibition held as part of the World Albatross Day and Seabird Week held over 15-21 June.  The Short-tailed Albatross decoy in front of Dr Hiroshi Hasegawa (centre) was previously used on Torishima.  Dr Hasegawa photographed the life-sized bird displayed on the banner hehind him.  The downy Short-tailed Albatross chick, a life-sized  needle felt creation by Tsugumi immediately to its left, formed part of the exhibit, as did the decoy

With the fifth World Albatross Day on 19 June having passed, it is pleasing to note the celebration has become a growing global phenomenon, with the day being marked around the world, as evidenced by a compilation of illustrations that had been posted to social media and by organized events, such as those held each year since 2020 by the Australian Antarctic Division.

Japan 2024 WADSW exhibit 2
The venue for the World Albatross exhibit
held in the Nature Centre of the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park

Japan is no exception.  The fourth World Albatross Day and Seabird Week was held in Japan over 15-21 June this year.  It is the second to take place in person, having been held online in 2021 and 2022.  The event began with a call to action by Short-tailed Albatross doyen Dr Hiroshi Hasegawa, who is well known to ACAP Latest News readers, both from his publications and for his stunning photography.  The event was organized by six NGOs in Japan – BirdLife International Tokyo, Institute of Boninology, Little Tern Project, the Oceanic Wildlife Society, the Wild Bird Society of Japan and the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology.

The audience listens to one of the event’s talks held in the Nature Centre

On 16 June at the Nature Centre of the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park and online, seven talks were given to nearly 120 participants (in-person and on online).  Subjects of the talks included seabirds as the most threatened bird group, fisheries bycatch, an update on Short-tailed Albatross conservation, on the extremely rare Chinese Crested Tern, the role of aquaria in seabird conservation, at-sea observations from ferries, artworks (mainly drawings and photographs, but also needle-felted seabirds), as well as Short-tailed Albatross and Little Tern decoys.  In addition, seabird conservation animation series were shown on repeat.  About 1200 visitors enjoyed the exhibition.

Japan 2024 WADSW little tern guided tour
Searching for Little Terns on the field outing

During the week a guided tour to the site of a rooftop colony of Little Terns attracted more than 40 participants, and flying terns and other birds were seen.

Read more about Japan’s celebration of WAD2024 in Japanese here.

preview shorttailed eng No Yamashina logo
ACAP Species Infographic for the Short-tailed Albatross, a Japanese version is in production in support of World Albatross Day

With thanks to Yasuko Suzuki, BirdLife International for information.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 11 July 2024

Releasing the “Container ship stowaway” Laysan Albatross at sea

Stowaway Laysan Albatross 3
In the “pelagic pool” while in captivity, photograph by
Ariana Gastelum, International Bird Rescue

A “stowaway” Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis was found aboard a container ship sailing towards Long Beach, California on 7 June 2024 and taken to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center.  While in captivity it was anaesthetized and a “dime-sized granuloma mass (typically produced in response to an infection)" removed from its foot.

On 2 July with the help of the Los Angeles City Lifeguard Association the bird was released at sea where it was videoed taking to flight.

Stowaway Laysan Albatross 2
The stowaway Laysan Albatross recovers in the “pelagic pool” while in captivity, photograph by
Katrina Plummer

Stowaway Laysan Albatross 1
Los Angeles Wildlife Center Manager Kylie Clatterbuck and Veterinarian Rebecca Duerr examine the Laysan Albatross’s wing while the bird is under anaesthesia, photograph by Ariana Gastelum, International Bird Rescue

Read more here and here.

This is not the first Laysan Albatross to land on a ship and be rehabilitated.  Read about earlier examples covered by ACAP Latest News.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 10 July 2024

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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